Homebuyer FAQs During Covid-19
- Homebuyer FAQs
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Q: Can I still buy a home in Hawaii right now?
Yes. As long as your employment and income have not been negatively impacted in recent months, you can still buy a home in Hawaii. Showings are a little more challenging, but the buying process is more or less the same. For example, our agents are relying more heavily on virtual showings. Signing documents online (a digital versus a “wet” or “ink” signature) is something we’ve encouraged for years and this method has now become the norm everywhere.
Q: How have the steps to secure financing for a home purchase changed due to the social distancing?
Interested buyers can follow the normal pre-approval process and qualify for a home loan. Please see the Lending FAQ section for more information from the lending experts at Element Mortgage. Plan for a 60-day closing period since many lenders continue to work from home. In some locations, communications may lag. Patience is key since the process may have slowed down a bit.
***Important*** Borrowers currently in forbearance are not eligible for financing and they can’t simply cancel the forbearance in order to qualify for a loan.
Q: When will it be safe to view properties in Hawaii as a prospective homebuyer?
It will take months for our industry to get back to normal. As long as the virus is around, we will continue to take every health and safety precaution to protect our clients and our community. Currently, under Governor Ige’s Safer at Home orders, we are able to show homes, though this is predominantly happening with Hawaii state residents. Travel restrictions and a mandated 14-day self-quarantine remain in place for all new arrivals to Hawaii.
Q: How has viewing properties changed in recent months? Will I be safe?
The Hawaii home buying process has become more virtual. Technology has always been our strong suit at Hawaii Life, and we continue to embrace virtual showings and offer the option for electronic signatures on contracts. Inspections are being done virtually via Zoom.
For local buyers, we suggest all clients conduct a thorough online search. Resident homebuyers are narrowing down their choices drastically before going to see “the Perfect One”. We also suggest you drive by any prospective properties of interest before scheduling an in-person showing.
Under Governor Ige’s Safer at Home orders, buyer showings are being conducted using personal protective equipment (PPE) and lockboxes, with physical distancing of at least six feet. All parties are currently required (by law) to wear masks at home showings.
Usually, an agent from only one side of a transaction will be on site. Buyers are prohibited from traveling in the same vehicle as an agent. We are asking buyers to drive to showings only with members of their household.
Q: What are the current investment opportunities in Hawaii real estate for the average buyer?
Right now, with low-interest rates and an uncertain economic climate, buyers have more negotiating and bargaining power.
Land purchases make a great investment for buyers looking to put their cash somewhere other than the stock market. Some people sell their homes because they have to, not because they want to. Some sellers are more eager to sell their properties now, and some may be willing to negotiate on price.
Q: What can I do now to prepare to purchase a Hawaii home?
Technology is key right now. Now is a great time to research the Hawaii market online by viewing listings and reading our agents’ blogs at hawaiilife.com.
- Determine the island/area where you’d like to live.
- Read reviews of places and towns, if you’re not currently a Hawaii resident.
- Consult a talented, tech-savvy agent to help you in your search.
- Make sure your finances are in order and understand the lending requirements currently in place.
- Make sure you have access to all of your financial accounts online.
- Obtain digital copies of your tax documents.
From a financing standpoint, the faster you can send your lender the documentation they need to complete your loan application, the better your chances of a smooth transaction.
Finally, speak to a lender. Our lending partners at Element Mortgage or your preferred lender can help you determine how much money you’re qualified to borrow, and they can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Q: I am moving to Hawaii for work, school, etc. What should I do?
Establish a plan well in advance of your move. We anticipate moving to Hawaii will be a more lengthy process once travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders are lifted across the country. Expect limited flights to the islands, and limited vendors transporting household shipments unless they are essential. Everyone in our industry is taking extra precautions for safety.
Q: Where can I find additional resources for buyers in Hawaii?
Find an agent by island. Connect with one of 350+ tech-savvy agents statewide to answer your questions.
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