Kensington: Experts Talk Buying A Home During A Pandemic
Alexandra J. Butz Jarred Cruz, December 21, 2020
The New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) held a workshop on Nov. 21 to provide residents with tips on buying a home during a pandemic.
The NKCDC provides free housing services to anyone in Philadelphia, connects community members with housing counselors, and provides resources for people who need help with an eviction or payment of rent and utility bills. In addition to these services, NKCDC has offered a number of free webinars on housing issues.
Joe Filipski, NKCDC’s assistant director of housing services and compliance officer, highlighted the value of free resources and briefing sessions in managing big life choices during the pandemic.
“It is a time to come together to offer and develop resources so that the people of New Kensington and the surrounding area can make informed decisions,” he said.
NKCDC is hosting two more webinars for home buyers on Saturday, December 12th and 19th this year. Those interested in participating can register online.
This webinar consisted of a real estate agent and a lender and gave attendees time to answer their questions.
Gregory Boler, a local real estate agent for ReMax Affiliates, shed light on how to start the buying process taking COVID-19 restrictions into account.
“Buying a home is one of the biggest expenses anyone will have in their life, and it’s very involved,” he said. “It’s really important for a person to understand the process so they can make an informed decision.”
Potential buyers should know their finances well enough to have a good idea of what they can afford.
“Most residents use funding plans,” he said. “It starts with determining your credit-income ratio.”
Boler suggested that potential buyers should determine their purchasing power first as they will either have to finance or pay cash. Buying a house that is too expensive can put a person in a difficult financial position for a long time.
“A mortgage can last 15 to 30 years, and if you’re in a bad situation that’s a lot of money to spend over time,” he said.
Stacey Harrison, loan officer at Meridian Mortgage, discussed how loans work, especially during the pandemic.
“The banks are really tightening because of the pandemic,” said Harrison. “They’re lending you hundreds of thousands of dollars and wanting to make sure you can afford to pay that money back.”
Getting a head start on financing by finding pre-approval is one of the most important things a buyer can do, Boler said.
“It’s important because you can look at a property and really like it and think it’s good, but then you have to qualify for a mortgage, which can take two weeks to a month,” he said. “When you come back, this property may be gone.”
Harrison agreed to Toleranzer’s suggestion for pre-approval.
“A real estate agent will turn you down unless you’re pre-approved,” Harrison said. “They don’t want you to waste their time. They won’t show you a house they’ve listed, and you can’t afford it in this area.”
Boler said the property market is currently a sellers’ market with more buyers than properties available.
“Even with pre-approval, it can be difficult to get the property you want,” said Boler.
In addition to being a real estate agent, Boler is also an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) who works directly with buyer-clients at every stage of the buying process. Boler suggested that buyers seek out a real estate agent to represent their interests during all parts of the buying process.
“Your ABR has your best interests,” said Boler. “They can help you negotiate prices so that if possible, you can get a property at a cheaper rate.”
Boler encourages everyone to have someone represent them during this process as experts can help buyers cope with unexpected situations.
“It’s really great to have someone to represent you,” said Boler. “It’s like going to court and not having your own lawyer. If you don’t have a representation, it’s hard to win the case.”
Buyer’s agents are typically paid out of the seller’s fees at the end of a home sale.
“A buyer’s agent won’t cost you anything,” Boyer said. “Someone will be there for you from start to finish, and COVID-19 doesn’t stop there.”
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Harrison said banks and loan officers will also work hard to know all about a client’s finances when they apply for a mortgage.
“I want to have full discussions with you about this process when we talk,” she said.
“I will be everything in your business and I ask you to be open to me even if your finances are not good due to the pandemic.”
The mortgage approval process can be long and stressful for buyers, Harrison said.
“For the next 40-45 days, I’ll be your best friend,” Harrison said. “We have to be open and honest with each other because you can end your own deal if you don’t let me know about everything. I tell people all the time, tell me everything, so I know how to address or structure your deal . ”
Since the pandemic can cause a person to lose their job or move, their mortgage eligibility can change too. Many lenders are uncomfortable lending to someone unless they have been in their current job for two years or more, Harrison said.
“If you’ve been a truck driver for three or four years and you say you’re sick of it and become a chef, that’s a complete change in your job,” she said. “Because you’re not in the same industry, I’m going to say now that you have to be a chef for two years before you can qualify.”
Also, with many people struggling to pay their rent in recent months, one attendee asked Harrison if it would be a detriment if their rent payments were late due to COVID-19.
“It depends,” she said. “If your landlord says you will pay your rent on time, you are fine. If your landlord says you will be late, you have a problem Months was on top of your rent. “
For students having to repay student loans, Harrison reminded attendees that all student loans are currently on hold due to COVID-19.
“We’ll have to make payments again from January,” she said. “That needs to be factored into your debt ratio. You want to make sure you are paying back both your mortgage and student loans.”
Lenders, real estate agents, sellers, and buyers can potentially control home sales without ever meeting in person. Typically, buying a home involves lots of face-to-face meetings that are easy to conduct virtually, Boler said.
“COVID-19 is not changing much,” he said. “Because the meetings that would otherwise have taken place in person can still take place online.”
Harrison encouraged the webinar attendees to be open and honest with their loan officer and real estate agent because they have the expertise and want to help.
“Although this is a seller’s market, we are here to help you with your endeavors,” she said. “The pandemic is not going to stop homes from getting to market.”
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This story was originally published by PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com.