There is a lot of uncertainty right now in our healthcare system and society as we try to stay on top of a global pandemic that has changed everything. At the same time that our government leaders are urging (or requiring) people to stay home to prevent the spread of disease, near-record-low mortgage rates have made many people look more closely at refinancing or purchasing a new home. Here are some common questions and answers about loans in the early days of COVID-19.
Home Availability Will Change
Normally the months of March and April are times when real estate brokers see a flood of new properties going on the market. Getting properties listed in the spring gives buyers time to look at inventory, put an offer in, close on their loan, and move during the summer months. The volume of homes going on the market is much lower than normal, and that can impact your ability to find a home you want to buy. Plus open houses and other activities that normally are part of a home-buying process are not allowed for the foreseeable future, which can impact the market.
Even the inventory that might normally come from things like foreclosures is gone, with government agencies like the Department of Housing and Urban Development announcing that lenders cannot foreclose or evict anyone with a Federal Housing Authority (FHA) mortgage for 60 days beginning March 18, 2020.
Settlements May Not Move Forward
Many state and local authorities are limiting the number of people that are allowed to congregate in any given place, so gathering all the people who need to be involved in a settlement or closing process may not be possible. In some states you may be able to sign documents electronically, but that still poses challenges in collecting all the necessary documentation to get a closing done and verifying that it is accurate. Your lender may have some specific requirements or things you need to send in advance to make the process go smoothly. If you do meet in person, you may want to take extra precautions like bringing your own pens for signing, not shaking hands, and bringing hand sanitizer and surface wipes for the conference table.
Timeframes May Be Extended
Some of the personnel shortages could also impact your ability to get all the steps completed in the same timeframe that you initially planned, so be patient with the process and talk to your lender throughout each step. County records offices that normally handle things like title searches or deed filings may be shut down or have only bare-bones staffing. Notaries are allowed to perform their duties virtually in about half of the states in the U.S., and Utah is one of them, which can help move the process along.
Your lender may not have a lot of concrete information about how long certain things will take, since this is new territory for many people, lenders included.
If you are in the process of a mortgage loan or you have questions, contact Integrity First Lending to talk to our experienced team about how the coronavirus might impact that. We’re always here to help.