Social distancing. Self-quarantine. Hand sanitizer, soap and water and elbow-bumping instead of shaking hands.
In our efforts to deal with a world-wide pandemic, not only are our priorities changing, but our vocabulary as well.
There was no warning, really, so it naturally caught many of us by surprise. We’re getting a lot of questions from our clients, worried about whether or not they should continue to close on their transactions, continue searching for a home or for a buyer for their current home.
We aren’t medical experts, so we can’t field medical questions. But we are real estate experts and are happy to offer our opinion of what is happening in the housing market and what experts expect in the coming weeks and months.
While there are plenty of rumors and much guessing from the experts as to how the U.S. economy will be impacted by the safety measures federal, state and municipal governments are enacting, nobody is certain.
We agree with those who claim that it all centers on how long the virus takes to get under control. The longer Americans are out of work, the longer retailers and other businesses remain closed, the bigger the impact on the economy.
Thankfully Congress has approved a stimulus package for both individual taxpayers and businesses. Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the lost revenue and wages that businesses and workers are experiencing right now.
Will our deal close?
If you have already signed a purchase agreement, as a buyer or a seller, lenders are taking extra steps to help speed up the process.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, for instance, is allowing VA buyers and sellers to participate in meetings with title companies, appraisers, lenders and VA personnel via phone or “other electronic methods,” according to the experts at Military.com.
Newly constructed home sales are still quite strong and closings are running smoothly. “During the first two weeks of March, new orders were up 16%, closings continued on schedule and traffic in home sales centers was strong,” Stuart Miller, Lennar Corporation executive chairman told the South Florida Business Journal.
The real sticking point to be aware of is that with municipal buildings closing down, the sale may not be recorded when you expected it to. Some municipalities are offering alternatives, such as closing remotely, through e-recording (thank goodness for technology!) and even by mail. In the greater Charlotte region, it appears that all cogs in the wheel of real estate will continue operating, from appraisals and inspections to deed recordations at the registrar’s offices.
Is this an ok time to buy a home?
Within the real estate industry there’s a well-known saying that the best time to buy a home is when you can afford to buy a home.
While mortgage interest rates have edged up a bit over the past few weeks, we’re still at historic lows. Borrowing money has rarely been so inexpensive. Once the volatility of the market settles down a bit, rates should inch back down to where they were pre-Covid.
We aren’t mortgage experts, but we have a vast network of trusted lending partners that can provide detailed insight on buying in this climate. One thing is universally true, however: when rates are significantly higher you won’t get nearly the size or type of home you can right now.
If you’re worried about exposure to germs while house hunting, understand that touring homes is a bit different now but still VERY doable. Much of the process can be done online via virtual open houses, 3-D home tours, floor plan drawings and more. My team and I have conducted or facilitated more than a dozen showings in the last 10 days utilizing technological resources at our disposal. All in the middle of county-wide stay-at-home orders!
Even in-person tours can be accomplished in a safe, healthy way.
What about selling? Is this an ok time?
While spring is typically the best time of the year to put a house on the market, this spring is going to be quite different.
There are buyers in the market, however, so if you need to sell, by all means, let’s get that home on the market. People who needed to relocate for a better school, a shorter work commute, more square footage due to an expanding family, downsizing after becoming empty-nesters, and all the other reasons why buyers move up or down to their next home are still valid motivations.
As mentioned in the buying section, above, we can employ a number of methods to keep your home and your family safe during and after showings.
Remember, the inventory of available homes is still quite low, so you will have little competition for buyers’ attention. We’re even seeing bidding wars still happening, across the country.
The bottom line is that if your home is in good condition and priced well, it will sell.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re happy to help.