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    If you had buying or selling a house on your radar, there’s a chance the COVID-19 outbreak may have very well stalled them. Maybe you lost your job or saw your wages or hours cut, or maybe you’re just being cautious — waiting out the storm until things look a little bit more optimistic.

    Whatever the reason for putting your plans on pause, it doesn’t have to mean spinning your wheels. In fact, there are actually quite a few things you can do to further your goals in the meantime.

    Are you hoping to buy or sell once the coronavirus cloud clears? Here’s what you can be doing while you wait. 

    For Sellers

    If selling your house is in the not-so-distance future, you should use this time to spruce up your home and tend to any underlying issues. Ultimately, this will make your home more marketable, easier to sell, and it could even mean more profits come closing day.

    1. Repair your house. If you know of any problems that need fixing — stuck doors, broken fence posts, or a dripping faucet, take time to repair these now. Order whatever tools and materials you need from Amazon or a home improvement store (most offer both curbside and delivery options), and use YouTube if you’re unsure of how to do something. Just make sure it’s from a reputable, professional source.
    2. Research real estate agents. Planning to use a real estate agent to list your home? Start researching your local options. Check out reviews, text your neighbors for recommendations, and even contact a few for an initial phone consult or listing presentation. If you’re considering flying solo, use this time to study up on selling your house without an agent or what iBuying options you might have once the pandemic clears. 
    3. Move some stuff to storage. De-cluttering is one of the best things you can do before listing a house. For one, it makes the place look bigger. It also translates to better photos, which help your listing stand out with buyers. For you, it means an easier move on the whole (you already have a good chunk packed up and moved out!)
    4. Tend to your curb appeal. Great curb appeal also translates to better listing photos — not to mention a more marketable home overall. Take a weekend out to weed the garden, plant some flowers, and lay down some fresh, new mulch. You can also opt for smaller projects, like updating your door color, address numbers, or mailbox. These little details can make all the difference.
    5. Repaint — inside and out. Take a look at your home’s wall colors. Are they super bold or specific to your tastes? Are they dirty and nicked-up? If so, you might want to give them a nice coat of white or eggshell. When a buyer walks into your home, it should offer a clean slate — a place they can envision themselves and their loved ones for generations to come. 

    For Buyers

    Are you looking forward to buying a house once all this comes to an end? There’s a lot you can be doing to work ahead.

    Here are just a few of your options:

    1. Research neighborhoods and communities. Real estate is all about location, location, location, so take some time to really home in on the perfect spot for your next purchase. Read up on crime rates, school districts, amenities, and traffic, and do a drive-through tour of a few you really favor. The more research you do now, the easier your home search will be later on.
    2. Gather your mortgage documents. If you’ll be financing your home purchase, you’ll need some financial documentation when applying for your loan. These will include things like bank statements, pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns, and more. Go ahead and start gathering these now to make your mortgage process a little more efficient.
    3. Start packing. Unless you’re actively using everything that’s out in your house, you could probably do a little pre-packing. Start with items in more hidden areas, like your garage, closets, attic, and basement. Once you tend to those, pack up anything on shelves or in cabinets you’re no longer using. You’d be surprised at how much time this can save you once the big move rolls around.
    4. Look at your credit. A higher credit score usually equals a better mortgage rate, and that means more money in your pocket over time. To give yourself the best shot at a low mortgage rate, work at increasing your score before you apply for a loan. Pay down some of your higher-balance debts, and ask for a credit line increase on your credit cards (but don’t use it). You can also pull your credit report and report any errors you might see. These can all help you boost your score.
    5. Get serious about saving up. You’re going to need cash for a down payment and closing costs, so start saving now. Use apps like Acorns and Qapital to set up auto-savings, or just funnel away a small portion of each paycheck if you can. (Since most of us aren’t leaving the house much these days, you may find yourself with a little more disposable income.

    The Bottom Line

    Your buying and selling plans may be on hold for now, but don’t let the COVID-19 outbreak throw off your goals entirely. Use this time to prep yourself, your finances, and your home for what’s to come, and reach out if you have any questions or concerns. The Embrace Home Loans team is here to help.

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