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First-time Homebuying and COVID-19:
A Realtor’s Perspective

We spoke with Tysharda Thomas, Associate Broker at New 2 U Homes, who has more than 10 years of experience buying and selling homes in the Rochester region. Tysharda gives us her perspective on how COVID-19 has impacted first-time homebuyers from a Realtor’s point of view.

How has COVID-19 affected the real estate market from a Realtor’s perspective?

The real estate market was quiet for the first few weeks in March and early April. Many buyers said “I’m going to wait until all this is over,” and then many started to realize the pandemic may be a while and jumped back into the market. On the first nice (warm-weather) day, phones rang off the hook at our office expressing interest to buy and sell.

If someone was interested in buying in the current market, what changes could they expect when working through the buying process?

The scenario is fluid as our region begins to reopen. At this time, face-to-face interactions between clients and Realtors are limited. Many contracts ask for contingencies so a buyer can see the property before closing. It’s important to see the property in person at some point before closing. I’m a firm believer that there’s a feeling you get when you walk into the right house.

In the current environment, buyers and sellers are going by their comfort levels for things like home showings. Be sure to have the conversation with your Realtor about your expectations. Not all sellers are currently comfortable with walkthroughs or open houses, so understand some properties may start to be shown via open house while others may not. Remember to be patient, because everyone has different circumstances.

What are common things to know as a first-time buyer in any market?

There are several key tips to consider when starting the homebuying process. The first is to develop a relationship with your Realtor however you can (phone call, video chat, etc.). You want a strong relationship with your Realtor going into the homebuying process. The next tip is to strongly consider having a home inspection if this is your first home purchase. For your first home, you want to know exactly what you’re getting into.

Also, know that there are more costs associated with homeownership than just the mortgage and taxes. You need to pay for electric and home repairs, and have money for other areas of your life. I don’t want anyone to be a in a bad situation financially after buying a house (also known as “house poor”). If travel is important for you, remember to save money in your budget for trips. If you have a family or would like to start one, be sure there’s room in your budget for family outings. Remember, this is a first home for you and doesn’t necessarily have to have everything on your list.

When entering the current market, plan for a bidding war. Right now is not the market for a deal. Be prepared—be preapproved for lending and get commitments for any grants lined up. If you’re receiving monetary gifts to help pay for a home, have those funds already in place. This will help ensure you’re in the best position to compete against other homebuyers. Also, know that escalation clauses (offers that increase up to a pre-determined maximum bid) are common right now—it’s important to put your best offer forward from the start because you might not get a chance to submit a second offer.

Is now a good time to buy?

Right now is still a great time to buy. Mortgage rates continue to be low, which helps reduce your long-term costs of homeownership. The market is extremely competitive, with tons of buyers out there that have been looking since last season. Everyone is different: different employer, different finances, different expectations. As long as you’re motivated and follow through with your homebuying team, you can get through this process. We will push toward this goal together.

First-time Homebuying Tips
Tysharda Thomas, Associate Broker at New 2 U Homes

About Tysharda

Tysharda Thomas, Associate Broker, New 2 U Homes

Tysharda Thomas is Associate Broker at New 2 U Homes, a full-service real estate brokerage in Rochester, NY. New 2 U Homes is a first-time homebuyer specialist, dedicated to ensuring you are informed, protected, and advised through every step of the real estate process. Ty’s style is simple: She puts the buyer first. For more information, visit