In the Competitive Coronavirus Housing Market, This Loophole Is Making It Easier to Buy a House

The pandemic’s latest effect on the housing market could be a good one for borrowers: Fewer mortgages are requiring a home appraisal, which is making it a whole lot easier for some people to purchase a home or qualify for a loan refinance.

According to a September report from the public policy think tank American Enterprise Institute, appraisals were waived on 42% of all government-sponsored purchase and refinance mortgages in July, up from roughly 20% in December.

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How the Pandemic Is Persuading Millennials to Leave the City and Make Living in the Suburbs … Cool?

City living treated Dylan Gray well. For two years, Gray, 26, rented an apartment in downtown Indianapolis with bars, restaurants, and his office all in walking distance. But when the coronavirus pandemic required him to start working remotely, Gray set his sights on buying a home in Broad Ripple, a neighborhood with a suburban feel located six miles north of downtown.

“Once my ability to walk to work was no longer a factor, it made sense for me to buy a house, especially given how low rates are right now,” says Gray, a business analyst at Salesforce. He purchased a 3-bedroom detached house for $230,000 last month, using a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 3.3% interest rate.

Before the pandemic, many Americans relished the perks of living in a big city. According to a 2016 Census Bureau report, about eight in 10 Americans lived in urban areas. But COVID-19 has some urbanites reevaluating where they want to live—and the type of homes the want to live in. During the second quarter of this year, 51% of property views by urban residents of America’s 100 largest metros went to suburban properties, an all-time high since Realtor.com began tracking metro level search data in 2017.

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Fall Homebuying Outlook: Everything You Need to Know About Prices, Supply and Mortgage Rates

With spring homebuying season disrupted by the coronavirus, would-be house hunters may be wondering if this fall will be a good time to buy.

The housing market is typically slow after August, as kids settle in for the school year and the weather starts to cool in much of the country. But, this year, the answer to that question—like so many posed since the start of the pandemic—is maybe, it depends.

To help you make the best decision for you, we’ve outlined a few expert predictions, as well as four pros and three cons of purchasing a home this fall.

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How to Get Preapproved for a Mortgage: A Step-by-Step Guide for Homebuyers

Ready to get serious about buying a home? Get preapproved for a mortgage.

In a nutshell, a mortgage preapproval letter is a written statement from a lender affirming that you’ve qualified for a home loan and specifying how much money the lender will allow you to borrow. Historically, sellers have preferred offers that include such a letter, but many have begun requiring that buyers get preapproved before even taking a tour.

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House Hunters Now Need Pre-Approval Letters to Walk in the Door. What the Trend Means for Buyers, Sellers and Agents

Home buyers eager to take advantage of low interest rates are rushing to schedule home tours, just recently allowed in some places as stay-at-home restrictions are eased. To curtail potential exposure to the coronavirus, however, many sellers are trying to limit the number of people traipsing through their properties. To achieve this, real estate agents are suggesting that sellers only admit buyers who have been pre-approved for a mortgage.

A pre-approval letter is a written offer from a lender stating that a potential buyer has been tentatively approved for a mortgage and how much they would be permitted to borrow.

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How to Buy a Home When You Can’t See It in Person

When you buy a house, you need to tour it. So that’s what Cat and Bobby Boucher did before making an offer on a three-bedroom townhome in Alexandria, Va., earlier this month. The only difference: The Bouchers never set a foot inside — instead, Cat toured the home through a private video showing with the seller over Facebook.

“The seller was only offering video tours, and seeing the home that way felt a little strange but it made sense considering that a lot of people are staying in their homes because of COVID,” says Cat, 30, who loved the property and its private backyard — a big upgrade from the 875-square foot one-bedroom with no yard where the couple currently lives. “I just want to be outside, especially during quarantine,” she says

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You Can Still Buy and Sell a Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Spring is usually the busiest time of year for real estate. It’s when house hunters and home sellers come out of hibernation mode and descend on the market in droves. But this year—in the era of COVID-19—is different.

The coronavirus outbreak has rocked the economy and upended many industries, including real estate. As Americans across the country are sheltering at home, many home buyers are left wondering: Should I buy a home now, or wait until quarantine measures loosen and the economy picks up again? The same goes for sellers wondering when they should list their home.

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Home Prices on the Rise

Kaushik Mukerjee and Preeti Vasishtha faced stiff competition when they set out to buy a home last spring. The couple, who live in Northern Virginia and have an 8-year-old son, were looking for a home in a good school district, but they lost out to other bidders on two houses before their offer on a townhouse stuck. “In one case we competed against 10 other offers, and the home sold for $20,000 above list price,” Mukerjee says. Ultimately, the couple paid $502,000—slightly above list price—for a 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom townhouse in Burke, Va.

Kody Henderson, a 26-year-old first-time home buyer, also grappled with a hyper­active market when he looked for a home in the Seattle area. He struck out on three before he snagged a three-bedroom single-family house for $465,000 in Burien, Wash., last November. “I kept getting beat by cash offers that were usually above list price,” says Henderson. “It was frustrating.”

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Here’s How to Buy a Home If You Can’t Save for a Down Payment

With millions of Americans facing financial burdens like student loans and high rents, saving up to make the traditional 20% down payment on a first home can be daunting. There’s good news for prospective home owners: You don’t need to do it.

Forty-six percent of millennials and 40% of Americans overall cited affording a down payment as their greatest financial barrier to home ownership, a recent COUNTRY Financial group survey found.

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You’d Better Ask These 5 Crucial Questions Before You Buy a House

No matter how many episodes of “House Hunters” or “Love It or List It” you’ve watched, buying a home inevitably comes with surprises. Though a sharp real estate agent will help you navigate these hidden challenges, before you start shopping for a house, you should take account of some important things that you probably haven’t considered.

Curious what you might be missing? Here are five questions you’d never think to ask yourself but totally should before buying a home.

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