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You may have to jump through some extra hoops to get from “for sale” to sold. (Photo Credit: istock/SondraP)

If you’re on the hunt for a North Fork home, preferably one you can move into before Memorial Day, it’s time to buckle down and focus. That’s because spring – typically the year’s busiest buying season – is around the corner.

But with some degree of COVID-19 restrictions still in place across New York State, home buying has taken on a different look and feel.

“When considering the viewing experience, changes are similar to what we’re dealing with in our everyday lives,” says Bridget Elkin, a real estate salesperson with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. “Masks, sanitizers, COVID disclosures and social distancing are all part of the process. If the home is hosting an open house, plan to wait in line for a bit as we can only allow one household in at a time.”

That’s not the only thing that’s changed about the buying process.

“Well-priced homes are moving very quickly, often with multiple offers so there is a real urgency to see properties when they come to market,” Elkin says. “Buyers are submitting offers with very attractive terms along with their offer price to remain as competitive as possible.”

There’s no need to panic, however, if you are prepared both financially and logistically. That includes coming armed with “pre-approval or proof of funds,” says Kristy Naddell, a licensed associate real estate broker with Douglas Elliman. “If a house buyers like comes on the market, they need to get out and look at it immediately and be prepared to make a strong offer.  This is not the time to try and negotiate or low ball.  A house that is desirable and priced well will most certainly have multiple bids and buyers need to be ready to act.”

Acting fast might work for folks that are living on the North Fork, but what about those who reside miles away?

“FaceTime showings have become very common,” says Naddell. “ Before COVID I rarely did virtual showings, but now I do them often.  As a listing agent, I am investing more on 3D virtual tours known as Matterport tours to help showcase my clients’ properties.  A lot of agents are doing virtual showings and some buyers are making offers just based on the FaceTime tour.”

This is where having an experienced local agent is helpful.

“If a buyer is going to make an offer without physically stepping inside a property, they will need to rely on their agent for honest and solid guidance,” says Naddell. “As a buyer, it’s very important to work with an experienced local agent who knows how to win in a bidding war, and has experience dealing with the tough negotiations that come with a hot market.”