I learned something interesting the other day that made me breathe a sigh of real relief.
Realtor.com’s Monthly Housing Trends Report for April found that new listings had declined by about 45% over the past year thanks to – I know you’re ahead of me on this one – COVID-19.
Why did I sigh with relief? That sounds like terrible news, and it is. Most areas were already suffering from low inventory for lots of different reasons, and even *lower* inventory means competition gets that much worse for the ‘good’ homes which means prices go – say it with me – up. And up. And up.
Higher prices paired with high unemployment means fewer qualified buyers, which means sellers pull their homes off the market, which means finding your dream home could become the impossible dream until this thing ends and the country starts to recover.
I sighed with relief because the day we put the offer in on our house was the same day that COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, which means that if we hadn’t found our dream home that day, a day we weren’t even planning to look, we would have tabled our search until the pandemic was over. We would have missed out on our dream home!
Of course, we wouldn’t have known we missed out on it, which is kind of -but not really – comforting. It just feels like so much serendipity that we found it when we did. It feels like this home was meant to be ours.
Home Buying As It Should Be
We live in beautiful Kentucky, a state that declared real estate as essential business.
I was still a Nervous Nelly because things were changing so much day by day and I didn’t want anything to prevent us from getting to closing.
We were warned that getting there would be an exercise in frustration, that the lender would ask us for the same paperwork over and over, that closings hardly ever happen on schedule, that inspections require going back to the negotiating table, and to expect for this to be a time-consuming nightmare for the next 60 days.
It was nothing like that. Were we just lucky, or was the industry forced to streamline itself to survive? Can our experience become everyone’s experience?
Our Home Buying Team
Please keep in mind that I’m only speaking to our personal experience. I know it wasn’t like this for everyone in all markets. For way more detail on the housing market during COVID, this is a pretty darn thorough resource from Curbed.com.
If you’re looking at mortgage lenders, Guaranteed Rate was amazing. We highly recommend them. A+ straight down the report card.
The entire mortgage application process was digital and incredibly intuitive. The algorithms did all the heavy lifting for us and we basically just confirmed the info was correct. Their communication was quick and clear. If we had questions, they had answers. We always knew where we stood in the process.
I used to work for a residential home builder which is how I knew about them and they were my first and only choice from the beginning. They exceeded all expectations.
It’s weird to love a mortgage lender, but here we are.
Our loan officer even renegotiated our already-darn-good rate at the last second and ended up negotiating the single biggest rate decrease of his career! It dropped our payment significantly and was lower than we even dared hope for.
Seriously, if you’re looking for a mortgage lender, you can’t do better than Guaranteed Rate.
The home inspection was done by HomeTeam.
Again, another A+ experience. I thought they were local when I made the appointment but it turns out they have locations all over the country.
The online appointment setting, paperwork signing, and payment portals were seamless. A team of two came to the house and they were very careful about disinfecting surfaces they came in contact with. Our inspection report was done via digital presentation so no one had to touch anything or get too close.
We Couldn’t Have Asked For A Better Home Buying Experience, Even During a Pandemic
Our closing was completed by Kentuckiana Title. Our closing had somehow been mis-communicated so they didn’t have us on the schedule but cheerfully and quickly accommodated us. There was a glass partition separating us from the closing agent, we were told to take the pens we signed with, and they had hand sanitizer freely available.
And, of course, our Realtor was Penny Cartwright.
It sounds unbelievable, but our home buying experience was phenomenal from the moment we reached Penny via the Realtor.com listing to the moment our closing agent slipped the keys under the glass partition.
Penny called us back and got us in to see the house so fast, we had our offer in before the house had been on the market 24 hours. She is also FUN! We were laughing and chatting so much, we ended up being stalked by the homeowner’s friends waiting patiently for us to leave so they could get in the house!
Oh, don’t let me forget the listing agent! While we never directly spoke with or saw Synthia Moore from Semonin Realtors, her role in the process cannot be glossed over. She got us quick and fair responses from the seller throughout the negotiation process.
Penny and Synthia also went above and beyond to accommodate us when Greg was out of town and we’d forgotten to have him sign a check for the earnest funds! Whoops!!! That could have sunk the whole ship, but they made sure it wasn’t a problem and we couldn’t be more grateful.
We can enthusiastically recommend our entire home buying team. We know it doesn’t go that smoothly for everyone, so when you find a good team that deserves all the kudos, you give them all the kudos.
So one more time for the folks in the back, all the kudos go to Penny Cartwright, Synthia Moore, HomeTeam Inspections, Guaranteed Rate, and Kentuckiana Title!
Is It Always Like This?
Buying a house – or at least, closing on a house – during COVID turned out to be super convenient and – dare I say it? Simple!
Even if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, being able to get everything sorted from the comfort of our own home and the lender having direct digital access to income and employment verification made it a completely stress-free experience.
We were honestly shocked. Like, is that it?
What was your experience like? Did you have to do a lot of face-to-face or were you able to transact mostly digitally like we did? Was it stress-free or did you find it to be a bit bumpier?
We’ve never bought a home before, so we’d love to hear how others fared in their experience!