With interest rates at an all time low, now is a great time to start searching for Atlanta new homes and finding a home today is easier than ever. If you are worried about being exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus), and not yet ready to leave home, then don’t worry, it is easy to search for your dream home from the comfort of your current residence.
The bulk of the new home search for your perfect Atlanta real estate can be completed online before even getting in the car and looking in person. Here are steps for getting started searching for Atlanta new homes:
Hire an agent. Depending on your level of comfort with the homebuying process, you probably want to work with a buyer’s agent. Your agent will act as a sounding board while walking you through the process and answering questions.
Get prequalified for a home loan. Knowing how much home you can comfortably afford is a crucial. Understanding this can steer the search in the right direction and price point. Most mortgage companies and banks can complete this step 100% virtually.
Determine where you want to live. Pick the city, county and maybe even the neighborhood that fits your lifestyle and budget. This includes thinking about what community amenities are must-haves. Does your family want access to a neighborhood pool and walking trails? Or will your outdoor fireplace be enough of an amenity combined with the nature preserve down the street?
Narrow your search to a specific builder, community and home. Look at the home builder’s website and start selecting communities and floor plans. Review videos of communities and homes. Take time to dig into renderings and floor plans. Once you have narrowed down the field to a few choices, review all interior selections and options to determine which ones you like and what is in your budget. Some builders offer extensive selections and others offer packages.
“Verify that they have options or don’t have options,” Kevin Weitzel, business development director for Outhouse (a virtual reality company), said. “Most builders with inventory homes can give a very realistic view of what they offer via virtual reality tours. If you are working with a custom builder, you need to know what those options are and the costs.”
Take a virtual tour. ‘Walk’ through the Atlanta new homes that interest you the most via Matterport or other virtual reality technology. As you walk through them online, think of how that feels to you and how the home flows, as well as how you’d live in it. Some builders offer interactive floor plans with space planning and the ability to add furniture. This is a good way to see if that king-sized bed fits or determine which room works best as a home office.
Use live chat. As you narrow your choices to the perfect home, reach out to each builder through the live chat on their website with your questions. Many builders employ an online sales counselor who knows the ins and outs of each community and is familiar with all the home plans. They can answer your questions about homes, schools and nearby amenities, as well all tell you about any promotions or incentives that may apply.
Schedule a tour with the agent onsite. Now that the search is narrowed to just a few homes, reach out to the respective community agent, and schedule a real-time, video walk-through. Before the meeting, make a list of questions to ask. As you work with the onsite agent, take communication into account. Is the onsite person easy to text, call and communicate with? You will be working with them a lot, so make sure that relationship is comfortable and that they will communicate via your preferred method.
Make an offer. Once you are comfortable with your dream home selection, work with your agent (or the builder’s onsite agent) to make an offer. Again, this is something that can be done 100% virtually.
Attend your virtual closing and move in. Work with your agent and lender to make sure all forms are submitted, then close on your home and pick up they keys! Of course, picking up the keys and moving in are going to happen in-person, but the rest can all happen online. Technology has enabled transactions that were once completely face-to-face, to happen virtually.
This article first appeared in Columbia Homes Magazine’s summer 2020 issue www.biaofcentralsc.com. It has been edited for Atlanta Real Estate Forum.