Experts explain the challenges of buying a home during pandemic

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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The coronavirus pandemic and economic uncertainty can make it difficult to buy a new home.

Despite COVID-related restrictions, realtors say it's is a good time for both buyers and sellers.

Even if you've been financially impacted, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency can help low- to moderate-income households purchase a home through education and programs.

Bismarck Resident Jeff Allen just bought his first home. He says documenting that you qualify to purchase real estate is important.

"They had me do a lot of W-2 stuff, pay stubs. There is that paper trail you have to send to them to make sure you're real. They want to make sure you're real. And then, basically, you get approved," Allen said.

For buyers like Allen in the current market, interest rates are historically low.

This lowers the long-term cost of a home.

And, realtors say the market is balanced.

"By looking at the inventory that's on the market, the pricing is very fair. We're not seeing things overly escalated or overpriced on average. It's been a very fair market. There's benefit for buyers and sellers in this market because of it," said Broker and Owner of Goldstone Realty Christine Rivinius.

However, the pandemic does pose new challenges.

Mortgage loan officers say there's more paperwork.

Bankers need to make sure someone laid off will be able to return to work in the same capacity.

If laid off, some programs require potential buyers have more financial reserves after buying a home to make payments.

Documentation is now done closer to closing on a home so that banks know your situation is stable.

Banks also usually require a buyer to have a -day pay stub before closing.

"We want to make sure they're employed, it's stable, the income isn't going to change. It's really important knowing that that's their source of repayment for the loan," said Mortgage Loan Officer Debby Wisdom.

If your credit's taken a hit or you *are* having financial troubles, there are still options.

"Our programs are focused on low- to moderate- income households. So as far as North Dakota goes, it's our programs. It's what other options the lenders may have. They have other programs available to them, other loan products. That's why you want to go into a lender and find out what's the best options for me?" said Dave Flohr with North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

Debby Wisdom says she expects the housing market to get better as we head into the future.

She says that as more businesses reopen, more people will return to work, which opens the doors for them to purchase a home.

For more information on home buying, affordable financing and down payment and closing cost assistance, you can contact a NDHFA representative.

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