Ep. 35 – How First Time Home Buyers Were Affected By COVID In 2020 – Part 2 

 January 12, 2021

HBH 35 | First Time Home Buyers

2020 SUCKED – the sequel! This is part 2 of the real-life stories from listeners of the How to Buy a Home Podcast, working their plan, and actually finding a way to buy a home in the midst of a global pandemic. David Sidoni, the How to Buy a Home guy, shares the actual adventures, trials and tribulations, and finally, some winning moments of listeners who found a way to make some lemonade out of the giant lemon that was 2020. Listen, be inspired, and perhaps hear some information that won’t make you want to crawl up into a ball under your covers.

How First Time Home Buyers Were Affected By COVID In 2020 – Part 2

Stories From Real Listeners And Their Tales Of Buying Their First Home In A Global Pandemic

It’s part two of my tales of home buying in a global pandemic. Here comes real-life actual accounts of people who bought homes in 2020.

2020 sucked. How about some good news? Not to put a smile on your face but to inspire you with some real-world information that you can use. No phony sales pitches or pie in the sky, get rich quick schemes, actual for real hacks and tips on how people bought their first home in 2020. People ask me all the time, “When should I buy a home? I want to buy my first home. When do I do it? What do you think? What’s the best time? I’m super concerned about the economy, the stock market, the election, unemployment, and now I’m freaked out about this pandemic. Should I wait for all this mess to clear up?”

This is the show where I help people out. I’ve been doing this for a long time. Those of you who’ve been here forever, you know that I take most of my ideas from people way smarter than me. When it comes to, “Should I wait for it? What should I do? When do I buy a house?” I always think about what Warren Buffett said. He said something similar to this, “When the public is fearful, that’s when you should take action. When the entire public is out there taking action, that’s when you should be fearful.” If you don’t know who Warren Buffett is, Google him. He’s got a little bit more money than I do. That’s the way it works, the rich gets richer in downtimes. If you want to take advantage of it, if you want to be smarter, if you want to work like the one-percenters, I don’t want you to act like the one-percenters. I just want you to have that bank accounts.

Research And Plan, But Don’t Do It On Your Own

We’re going to find ways for you to do that to take advantage of these rough times, as long as things are going okay for you. Continuing along with our reader’s celebration of stories from 2020, how did they do it? One word, planning. Our first story continuing from part one, this is part two. This guy is going to remain nameless because he works in national security and some secret, crazy government job. I don’t even know. I’m freaked out to find out. He called me with questions throughout the pandemic. He wasn’t sure where his crazy secret black ops base was going to be. He had no idea where they were going to send him. Even if he knew, I’m pretty sure he couldn’t tell me, which is a tough way to try to buy real estate when you don’t tell your realtor where you live.

He had a lot of questions about relocation, about buying potentially for some place that might be temporary for him and his family. Doing that and calling someone way before you do that, that’s excellent planning. Finding somebody who gives a darn and we’ll talk to you because you’re not buying a house in the next 30 or 60 days, that takes a little more work. As I mentioned in part one, there is a saying in financial planning, “It’s never a bad time to buy your first home,” despite what’s going on in the market. You still need to look at the big picture for your specific situation. It might not be right for you. Mr. Anonymous black ops dude and I take a look at their situation. Now, he’s in a more settled place and he’s working with one of my unicorn realtors.

[bctt tweet=”It’s never a bad time to buy your first home despite what’s going on in the market.” username=””]

I’m not going to tell you where because I don’t want to die. For those of you who don’t know what a unicorn realtor is, that has nothing to do with the government and black ops. They’re not running around free at Area 51. A unicorn realtor is what we call the magical mystical and often elusive realtor. That is the fantasy-full combination of a caring and nurturing real estate agent who wants to help you and has experience, yet they also will take the time to work with you, the first-time buyer. The lesson that we got from our first reader, research and plan but don’t do it on your own. Get a guide, find a pro, and tailor your specific planning for your needs. Another reader whose home that I sold a few years back when they move to Texas. He got relocated and that meant he couldn’t travel much in the pandemic.

We had to do the whole thing through FaceTime and videos. I did the inspection for him by video. We sent the papers through FedEx to them and they signed and purchased their house all from a different state. Locally, I had a client who was looking to buy a condo by the beach. This was the summer of 2020 and this is one of those hacks. One of those things that we did is to help him trying to buy, even though it was a crazy time. We found a high rise in massive construction. They were tearing the whole place apart because as soon as the COVID shutdown happened, the building figured out that that was a perfect time to do renovations. It’s cool, let the place get super ugly. Fewer people are going in and out. They didn’t mind a tow up lobby since they figured no one’s going to be buying now anyway.

It’s the middle of this pandemic. We trudged through that mess in the lobby. We got to the elevators and eventually, we got up to a high floor and we found a gorgeous condo with an open view. Because we were willing to trudge through the war zone, and we were willing to see this amazing upstairs unit that was overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he ended up buying his dream place. I was cruising through Facebook and he got this great picture of his Christmas tree overlooking the ocean.

Here’s another true story from a reader. I hope that you’re going to find some valuable information here, “Me and my wife are first time home buyers and I’ve been looking for a realtor to help us, but they don’t seem to be interested in the buyers, just the sellers.” This is why I started the show. This is so true, especially in those high-priced areas. You need a unicorn and remember, your realtor is free. The seller pays for it. I got a little giddy there. Back to the story, he says, “As an aside for possible podcast father.” He screwed up. He just gave me permission to use this piece in the show. You better bet your butt I’m using it. Back to the email, “I had a PhD. I was making nearly $100,000 a year. I had poultry $87 as in less than $100 in my savings account at the start of 2019. Your show helped me wake up to the fact that I needed to start putting money away for a rainy day and my future goals.

I think that lots of military folks get lulled into a sense of security that they don’t need an emergency fund because they’ve got that job security, great healthcare, etc. If you never start saving, then that money won’t be there when you need it. Twenty-four months later, that figure had exploded to $50,000. My lifestyle hadn’t changed a bit.” That’s pretty cool. I’m stoke on that. Lots of stuff on another show. Back to him, “My realtor suggested a mortgage broker that found me a $22,000 grant. I was originally denied the grant because they said I made too much money, which I wish was true. I was very confused and asked for more details. It turns out that the underwriters are not good at math. Thankfully, I like Excel spreadsheets and it was all fixed.”

HBH 35 | First Time Home Buyers
First Time Home Buyers: A real tough way to try to buy real estate is when you don’t tell your realtor where you live.

This crazy market was terrifying at first for our first-time home buyer. Homes were on the market for an average of three days sometimes even less. People offered way above the asking price. On top of that, the showings were down to fifteen minutes. That’s due to reduced capacity and indoor spaces. “Offers had to be in by 8:00 that night, what?” I didn’t say that. It was in the email. Back to the email, “Oftentimes at the showings, the people before you would stay late after their fifteen minutes, and the people after you would come early so there was added pressure. My dad is an electrician. I brought him with me and he was going to help me strategize. He looked at the foundation, the actual construction of the home, where I had evaluated the cosmetic layout of the home.

When he saw the home that he bought, they both knew right away. I walked outside at the end and I straight up asked my dad, ‘Am I crazy to think this is my home?’ He said, ‘I was thinking the same thing.’ Even when I met with the inspector, he said it was a good home. It’s a four-bedroom, two-bath kitchen, everything you wanted with a mother-in-law, apartment in the basement. He’s able to rent that out.” Another hack that we talk about and lots of episodes, plus it has a heated four-car garage, which is a big deal because this guy lives in Minnesota. We don’t have those here in California. We’d have flip-flops and beaches but I enjoy Minnesota.

He says, “The previous owner of the home had told me that she wanted to sell her home to a one-person income because that’s how she bought it.” Does that make any sense? Nope. I told you selling a home is a one-off, people are crazy. He says, “I unfortunately never got to meet her in person because of the pandemic.” How did the buyer get that communication from the owner? How did they find out that weird thing that they wanted to get it from the single person? I’ll tell you how, because they had a bitching realtor that found a way to facilitate this emotional information and valuable information, getting it through great communication with the other listing agent, their realtor, to get it passed on to the seller. Using pro matters in many ways. I’m going to say that again with clapping emphasis. Picture those people on reality TV shows when they have something to say, and they wanted to make a point. I am making a point, “Using pros matter.”

It’s not just about finding you the right home and driving you around to show you homes. It’s about giving you the home that you like. They’re not there to open doors for you. These are professional negotiators and you better make sure you hire a great one. Back to the reader, “After about a month when I moved in, the first owner of the home stopped by.” He was the third owner. This was the first owner, not who he bought it from. “That guy was a plumber and he built a home with his contractor buddy. They added a whole bunch of cool features. He walked around the home and showed me all the cool things and the way it was set up. He told me he was upset when he found out the house was sold. He had no idea because he wanted to buy it back from the second owner.” That guy should have had a unicorn watching the market for him.

Pulling Emotional Heartstrings

Here’s another first-time buyer who sent me this information. “We bought a house. We move in next week, 2020 though, crazy story, 41 offers shown for a full week. Even though they got up to 41 offers, they had 200 people. We had nineteen counters. It was our first and only house offer we ever did. We had to wear booties and gloves during each house visit. We did some inspections and found it to be in mostly decent shape, but we needed some plumbing and termite work. We made that work out. We move in next week.” I told this first-time buyer, “Congratulations,” and they should be incredibly proud of themselves, not just for figuring out how to win a bidding war like that. You bought a house during the pandemic. That in itself deserves a huge round of applause, pat on the back, filling your congratulatory thing here. Knowing the market is key to being able to make this happen to you. You have to be aware of what you’re jumping into.

[bctt tweet=”If you never start saving, then that money won’t be there when you need it.” username=””]

During 2020, I’ve got two personal stories of my clients selling their homes, the people who bought them were first-time buyers. I thought this could be some good stuff for you to pick up some nuggets of wisdom. Our first seller, someone that I worked with, one of my live entertainment people here from Southern California. They ended up deciding to sell their home during COVID because the main reason they had to sell was live entertainment dried up. They weren’t sure what they were going to do for work. They thought, “I’m going to sell the house and chill for a little bit.”

The second seller that I had put their house up on the market in a matter of days because they saw that their dream house was for sale, and they had to sell their house to be able to buy it. It was their dream house because it was across the street from the house that she grew up in. That house that she grew up in, her sister lived in so she could move right across the street from her sister. We had to hustle though in order for us to get our bid accepted because her home wasn’t even sold yet. We had to write an offer saying, “We promised we were going to sell the home quickly.” We pulled on the emotional heartstrings to win the battle. It turns out that the realtor selling that home knew her family from childhood because she used to stay in daycare, in the house that she was selling when she was a kid, and they used to come in the street and play.

The story from everyone pulled on the heartstrings. Even though it was a multiple offer situation, we got her offer accepted. That meant we had to sell her house quickly. In one weekend we had the house up on the market and we sold it to a first-time buyer who had almost given up until he saw her house for sale. He wanted to buy the house. She wanted to buy the house right across from her sister. Everyone was motivated. The deals got done. As for the other home that I sold, the one where the person who was laid off from their live entertainment business, it was an extreme situation. They were looking to sell the home quickly not for nothing at a fair price, but they were looking to sell it fast.

When we put the home up, we had several investors who thought that I’m going to take advantage of this. It’s COVID and they tried to give us low ball deals, real slime people. A first-time buyer pops by. Someone she knew would close on the deal. Someone she knew was going to work hard to make this happen. Someone not trying to steal a deal but someone who wanted this home and would fight to close on this purchase. Yet another reader has a story from 2020 with some good lessons for you. This reader says, “I’m in escrow and about to close on a condo that was in litigation,” terrible word. “It somehow magically settled last weekend the same time we agreed on a price. My agent did everything to make sure I got what I wanted and pushed to get me even more money off. We ended up in a contract for under asking price.” In 2020, that’s amazing. “Your tips on the show along the way have helped. I wasn’t going to close because I didn’t want to jinx it until we close.”

There’s a little PS. She also mentioned that I might want to tell the readers that some cities offer government assistant programs that you could take advantage of, even help with saving, budgeting, and getting your credit score fixed. That’s cool. Now you’ve got a couple of resources, my show and everything are all on the website or get it directly from the folks in your town. She says, “I’m not sure if all cities do that, but they’re a tremendous resource. These are a few of the examples of stories that are happening everywhere in North America for first-time home buyers during this pandemic. We have had many first-time home buyers get their first homes from the unicorn realtors in 2020.

HBH 35 | First Time Home Buyers
First Time Home Buyers: The commercial side of real estate has already taken a huge dump, and it’s going to get worse.

What’s Going To Happen In Real Estate

I’m talking from March to December 2020, right in the thick of everything. We had people buy homes everywhere in Dallas, Phoenix, Baltimore, San Diego, Atlanta, Portland, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. We had two of them in Central California and four in Southern California. I heard their realtor was pretty cool. There were many more. The last time I looked at it, there were over 50 readers that closed during the pandemic. We’ve got over 100 people that have been hooked up with realtors in their area that are working on the plan for 2021. You’re going to see horrible headlines as this continues to get better and worse because remember negative headlines, that’s what drives the clicks. That’s what sells the papers. Newspapers are things old people read and that’s for good reason because some terrible stuff is going to happen.

The commercial side of real estate has already taken a huge dump and it’s going to get worse. I went to a drive-up fundraiser for my kid’s little theatre school. It’s in a strip mall and it has a whole bunch of businesses. Usually, that place at 6:00 PM, which when we were pulling up, it’s packed. It’s got a judo place, a workout place, ballroom dancing, and a bar that’s usually stuffed to the gills on Monday nights. This was a Monday at 6:00 PM and everywhere was crickets, not just the bar but all the businesses, nothing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as people start to figure out that they can work from home. That means office buildings are going to be in a big slump as well. That’s what going to be happening when it comes to real estate.

On the personal side, buying residential real estate, that’s different. It’s a one-off. That means it’s one person selling a house. If they want to move, they’re going to move. COVID sucks. I have many friends hurting in the live entertainment business. There was one that had to sell their house because he wants more stability. If that’s you, this could be a time to hunker down and work on your planning. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and take care of your family. If you’re struggling to survive, that’s the most important thing. You might not be able to save a ton. There’s plenty of stuff that you can work on. You can go back through the show. There are a lot of things that we can do while you wait this out. The worst-case scenario is at least you’ll get some tips on how to save money. Hang in there, we’re going to get through this.

Next time, we’re going to go over what to expect in 2021. Don’t freak out. I’ve got a plan. Do you sense a theme here? Planning. If this episode or any others have been helpful to you, please subscribe and you’ll automatically keep getting all this information directly sent to you wherever you get your show. If it’s been helpful, write a review so that we jump up on the charts and other people can find us, and we can get more and more people making this dream happen. You can check me out on Twitter and YouTube. If you’ve got specific questions, the best way to get me is to hit me up on Instagram, @DavidSidoni, or you can join the How to Buy a Home Facebook group, or you can contact me through the website, DavidSidoni.com. Jump on there, fill out the contact form, and I’ll get back to you. Everyone, hang tough during all this. Remember, you can do this.

Important Links:


This podcast was started for YOU, to demystify things for first time home buyers, and help crush the confusion. After helping first timers for over 13 years, I knew there wasn’t t a lot of clear, tangible, useable information out there on the internet, so I started this podcast. Help me spread the word to other people just like you, dying for answers. Tell your friends, family, and perhaps that random neighbor you REALLY want to move out about How to Buy a Home! A really easy way is to hit the share button and text it to your friends. Go for it, help someone out. And if you’re not already a regular listener, subscribe and get constant updates on the market. If you are a regular and learned something, help me help others – give the show a quick review in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, or write a review on Spotify. Let’s change the way the real estate industry treats you first time buyers, one buyer at a time, starting with you – and make sure your favorite people don’t get screwed by going into this HUGE step blind and confused. Viva la Unicorn Revolution!


Instagram @DavidSidoni
Tik Tok @howtobuyahome

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Ep. 234 – Interview With Yadi and Victor – Dreamed Of Homeownership And Found A Way
Ep. 230 – NAR Lawsuit – The New Rules For Real Estate And How To Buy A Home – PART 1
Ep 229 – What Is A Unicorn Real Estate Team?
Ep 228 – Interview With Andrew And Melissa Who Did NOT Need 20% Down To Buy And Bought Their First Home In A Matter Of Weeks!