Navigating your way through real estate websites, enjoying virtual visits, talking to real estate agents, simulating housing credits and mortgages: all of these things are possible without leaving the house..
The health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus in Portugal and beyond has been paralysing house buying and selling globally. However, this period of confinement may be a good time to look for a new home and start preparing the buying process, all of which can done remotely. We have prepared a guide to help those thinking of buying a home, which includes tips on how to find a home loan or mortgage without having to leave the sofa.
Online real estate portals are still 100% available in all their formats (web, mobile, apps), and now is the perfect time to take full advantage of what they have to offer (photos, descriptions, videos). Make a list of the properties you like or are interested in, as well as using the features on offer where you can save searches and add favourites.
You can also still contact sellers and it is highly recommended to do so. Even if you can't physically visit a property, you can clear up any doubts that will allow you to find out more about the house or apartment, and in these circumstances you can even request a virtual tour. The agent or the owner can send you more photos and multimedia content, including renders, inform you about the state of the property or its availability, and give you more information that is not detailed in the online listing. The price may even be negotiable, something highly likely these days.
In addition, if you contact a real estate agent, the agent may also be able to show you other properties that fit your criteria. If you find a house that really interests you, it is recommended that you take further steps and find out as much about the property as possible. This could include information about the registration of the property or additional fees or charges, such as rates and maintenance fees.
If you don't know the area well, you should also do an online investigation about it: look at what public services there are, schools, gyms, transport connections, supermarkets etc. Don't forget that a fundamental part of the decision to buy a house is the location and the surrounding area.
Applying for a mortgage remotely
You need to take into account everything that is involved in the purchase of a house. In addition to the amount spent on the initial purchase of the house itself, you have to keep in mind other expenses, such as the monthly mortgage rate, taxes, deeds, moving costs, purchase of furniture and maintenance work, if necessary.
To see which mortgage rate best suits your needs, use an online simulator to compare the options. You can compare mortgage rates from different banks, and even make an online application to see if the bank could potentially help you with financing the property. This is a good start in searching for your dream home; however, remember, banks don't give 100% valid approvals until they verify all your data with documentation and the property valuation is done. Many banks will also give mortgage quotes tailored to each client.
So, if you already have a house, or if you are still looking, you can certainly start making enquiries about housing loans and get the process underway. Most mortgage comparison services, like the idealista mortgage simulator, also allow you to send applications to banks without leaving the comfort of your own home, at no cost and with no strings attached. This step can help you save time and you can talk to banks remotely to help you better understand their offers and make your own comparisons.
The experts who make real estate valuations also continue to function, following procedures adapted to the pandemic's containment contingency plan.
Finally, let's look at formalisation: this is the part of the process that is currently most complex. Most banks until now, have required the opening of accounts and the signing of other documents that do not yet have a digitalised process. Notaries are also only performing acts of proven urgency, and always with a prior appointment.
However, there is a way around this obstacle if you urgently need to make the purchase. In order to overcome the closure of several notaries, several real estate transactions have been carried out through an authenticated private document (DPA), instead of the public deed. As the public deed is always drawn up by a notary, and signed by him/her and by those purchasing the property, the DPA can be signed only by the intervening parties and may be drawn up by the parties themselves or by the authenticating entity, without granting it or signing it with the addtional parties. This document may be authenticated and deposited by lawyers, notaries, solicitors or registrars.
"Despite the confinement situation we live in, at home we can do many things and take the opportunity to move forward with the process of searching for a new house; we simply have to take advantage of the tools and professionals available", states Juan Villén, who is responsible for idealista's mortgage broker service, idealista/hipotecas.