House Hunting in a Time of Covid: What to Expect

My wife and I have had the misfortune of trying to find a house right now. We have actually had the misfortune of trying to find a house for roughly two years.

Two years ago we were back in America from living abroad. We had scraped together a small sum and planned to make a 3% down-payment (the lowest allowed by the bank). But we had the misfortune, as many Americans do, of having a health emergency. In order to pay the bills which came from the hospital stay, we lost all our savings.

No such sights for me. Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

Earlier this year we thought we had scraped together more than before; our lease was coming up again and our roommate was moving out– we thought it was the perfect time! We even found a lovely house– two story, four bed, two bath, and renovated. We had even got several deals: they would get us insurance, pay closing costs, and take $5,000 less than asking.

But then Covid came. We were not immune to the job losses which have swept the country (and the world). Our mortgage loan fell through without enough money to pay it. We had a house we loved and we lost it.

And they wonder why millennials aren’t buying houses… Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Though we were lucky and are back to full employment, we’ve found how different the market is right now.

We are in a Bear Market (Instead of a Bull Market)

I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what this meant before the Covid crisis swept the world. Seeing the world economy take a serious downturn has made me take a lot more attention to the stock market.

Here is the breakdown of the terms (as I understand them):

A Bull Market is good. Things are going well.

A Bear Market is bad. Things are not going well.

This Pushed Us From a Buyer’s Market to a Seller’s Market (Somehow)

No clue how this works. A lot of people have lost jobs and yet the people with the most power are not those few who still have the capability of buying houses, but it has somehow solidified with those who are selling houses.

Remember all the things that we got with our first successful house offer? Remember that we got accepted at 5k lower than the asking price?

Say good-bye to those days.

These are the Current Things You Can Expect:

  • Expect there to be almost nothing on the market. We check our realtor’s site and the app from Realtor.com daily. Almost nothing new is showing up.
  • And yet you have to be ready to rush houses. If you don’t see a house within the first day or so of it being on the market, expect it to be gone. If you don’t rush to see a house, someone else will.
  • Because of the low supply of houses, expect to buy houses more or less AS IS. Sellers aren’t willing to fix something for you when the next person will buy it without the fix.
  • Expect to see houses at their worst. There does seem to be less effort overall by sellers right now. We went from a market where sellers seemed to be promoting their houses as much as possible, there are houses right now which obviously need fixes– fixes that would keep a house off the market in any other time.
  • Expect to pay more. A lot more. We went from offering 5k lower to 20k over for a house. We still didn’t get it. It’s madness out there.
  • If you have the chance to skip out on this market, do it. If we weren’t now on a short lease, we would be skipping it too. If it’s financially better (still) to buy now: best of luck to you.

If you want to share your experience about house hunting, leave a comment below!

Thank you for reading! Follow StoryScribe for more articles about making sense of the world. You can also find my recent articles on moral alignment or on Orcs on Medium and support me on Patreon!

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