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Is Virtual Homebuying Here to Stay?
When the stay-at-home orders were issued, life changed. Homes instantly became offices for many workers and classrooms for families. It was rough going in the beginning, with everyone trying to figure out a system to work within the restrictions. Within a few weeks, we found a rhythm. Now, with businesses gradually reopening, we have to wonder how much of the temporary “New Normal” will continue in our lives. Is virtual homebuying here to stay?
What have you been accomplishing through online channels that you used to do in person? Grocery shopping is a big one. Whether ordering online and opting for curbside pick-up or relying on delivery, wandering aimlessly through the aisles of a grocery store was deemed too risky.
Telemedicine—a video conference with your healthcare provider—is another task you might have experienced. And how many Zoom meetings have you attended since the pandemic sparked the shutdown?
As a local homebuilder in Maryland, Kettler Forlines Homes has accomplished what many other builders around the country have done. We’ve moved from a physical sales center and model home to a virtual one, to protect our buyers as well as our Kettler Forlines team.
For the past two months, we’ve maintained communication with our customers. People who had a home under construction were able to keep receiving updates. Our construction crews have been able to keep working safely with social distancing and diligent sanitizing on the job sites.
Buying a home online
What we found interesting—and exciting!—is selling homes to buyers by using our virtual homebuying process. Yes, it’s not only doable but been done!
Here’s how it worked:
- The prospective buyer browsed the website of our Brightwell Crossing neighborhood in Poolesville, MD. They looked at the interactive site map to see which lots were available and then explored the floor plans. The virtual tours provided a 360° view. They also visited our online gallery to see photos and videos of the homes, community, and area.
- The interested buyers were able to get out and drive around The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing, to see first-hand the quality and distinction of the homes and neighborhood.
- The buyers contacted George Neill, Kettler Forlines Homes’ Sales Manager, who “met” with them on a video conference call.
- George then went through all the options for customizing their new home.
- Convinced that The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing was the right place and Kettler Forlines Homes had the right skills, design, and reputation to build their home, they signed the contract, also done online using DocuSign.
We eventually met face to face. They praised that the process was so easy!
And now we’re able to schedule private, in-person appointments so you can tour any of our homes. We’re adhering to CDC guidelines for proper safety, keeping everyone protected.
Why it’s a great time to buy a home
If you thought you had to put your plans on hold, think again. Right now, the mortgage interest rates are at a historical low. We looked back almost 50 years to compare interest rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages, and the closest we saw to the 3.31% rate last month (April 2020) was the end of 2012 when the market was coming back from the Great Recession.
As restrictions lift and more people are moving about (safely, we hope), the demand for new homes will rise. After coming out of confinement, homeowners have learned that their homes just didn't meet their needs. Prices will likely go up as well, along with interest rates. Inventory is already low and with the limited amount of homes built over the past few months, your options will become more limited.
We expect that many people will remain cautious about the spread of the virus, and will limit contact as much as possible. With virtual homebuying, you can shop, plan, purchase, customize, and close on your home with as much or as little distance as you choose. Talk to George Neill to get started on a unique homebuying journey!