What Should I Know If I’m Buying a House During the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Will the home inspector be given access to the house? If there is a septic system, will a septic inspector be permitted to do the inspection?

Even if inspections are permitted, you might not be permitted to be present, which means that you will not have the benefit on asking questions and actually seeing the inspector point out items, which is much more informative than simply reading a formal, written report. In such a case, find out if the inspector can take a lot of photos, or better yet, live-stream the inspection.

Will the appraiser be permitted to make a site visit? If not, will the lender be able to accept a drive-by appraisal?

Will your lawyer have access to public documents for the title search?

To accommodate Stay-Home orders, your lawyer can probably arrange for a remote closing.

I should mention one more thing: These days I have been including the following language in purchase contracts:

“In case of delays or cancellation due to the covid-19 pandemic (such as appraiser or inspectors becoming ill or subject to stay home orders; or closed lab; or other unusual problems caused by the pandemic) Buyer shall not be in default or denied right to inspect because of missed deadlines. In such circumstance, both parties and their agents will work cooperatively to find workable solutions.”

Feel free to contact me via the contact box on my website for additional conversation:

Or send an email to:
vtbroker@buyer-brokerage.com with the subject line, “inquiry.”
(If you are currently party to a buyer agency agreement, then you should ask your agent for advice.)

Steven K-Brooks, Principal Broker
Brattleboro Buyer Brokerage Real Estate
(question first answered on Quora)

Comments | 2

  • forgot to mention...

    I forgot the most obvious thing of all: Real estate agents may not show property. If you have already seen a home, or if you are willing to make a purchase site-unseen, you could still purchase a home.

    Pertaining to real estate, the Governor’s order says the following;

    “Real estate sales and brokerage firms must suspend in-person operations under the Governor’s Executive Order. Real estate functions that can be conducted online, by phone or email can continue. And as previously directed by the Governor, employees should be working remotely. Property appraisals, inspections, title services and other activities that require in-person business are not permitted during the term of the Executive Order.”

    The Vermont Association of Realtors®(VAR) has sent the following notification to members:

    “VAR appreciates that Realtors® are trying to be creative to continue their business dealings, but any attempt to show homes, visit vacant properties, take photos or videos, or any other activity involving a Realtor® being out in the community, directly violates the Emergency Executive Orders. Those orders allow people to be out for a limited number of reasons. Knowingly violating a law may be potential grounds for unprofessional conduct.”

  • And people still need to move....

    I’ve run into (figuratively) a few people who were planning to move.

    One can’t get movers or trucks, and will likely have personal items put in storage for a few months if that can be arranged.

    Another can’t move to the destination because of travel restrictions and the shut down of the destination. This is require a complete change of plans and a move to an entirely different state for a while.

    One isn’t quite sure what to do.

    It’s good to see that there is a tiny bit of wiggle room for those that need to buy around here. I know from buying a house a couple of years ago that MUCH of it can be done online – assuming banks and lawyers are still working. The home buying workshop could be completed online, much of the paperwork was sent electronically, and so on. The rough part would really come from not being able to visit or inspect the property.

    I’m sure some video conferencing could get someone through a house tour, if the owners were willing to walk around with the camera and answer questions (though agents don’t really want that, I suppose). Perhaps there would be a way for a motivated seller to assist in a virtual inspection – I’m imagining the inspector watching live as the owners walk around, and the inspector asks them questions, tells them to poke at things. Not perfect, but maybe it could put some minds at ease over some issues.

    Renters, too, may be in trouble finding new places and moving. Houses for sale have realtors uploading phots, videos and descriptions. Apartments usually don’t have this level of service. Often one must visit to check out the space. Maybe apartment landlords could put some apartment info and photos online to help out.

    I hope landlords are being generous with rent forgiveness/pauses and also hope mortgage companies start putting a pause on payments until further notice. It would be a shame if, at the end of this, everyone is simply in debt up to their eyeballs, and everyone needs to work off the “debt” of these strange months for the foreseeable future. That would be a very slow digging out of the economy.

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