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Spring is here, which typically means home buyers are looking at out properties, negotiating, and closing on new places. But the coronavirus outbreak along with stay at home measures and economic uncertainties have many real estate shoppers wondering: Should I buy a home now, or is it better to wait?

Coronavirus and the Housing Market

woman with mask and virus in the ari

So what state is the real estate market in right now, anyway? Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are definitely feeling a hit.

“The coronavirus is leading to fewer home buyers searching in the marketplace, as well as some listings being delayed.”
-Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®.

According to a recent NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse, conducted on March 16 and 17, 48% of real estate agents have noticed a decrease in buyer interest because of the coronavirus outbreak.

However, 45% of real estate agents said that they believe lower-than-average mortgage rates are tempting buyers to shop around anyway, without any noticeable change in home buyer behavior.

There is opportunity out there!

“This is the best buyer’s market I have ever seen in my career. Sellers are nervous, there’s excess supply, and interest rates have been hovering at historic lows. You can own a home for less per month than you can rent an equivalent property in most areas.”
-Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers and Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York.”

With fewer home buyers out there, there is a lot less competition.

“Unmotivated and uncommitted buyers have dropped off. Less competition is a huge leg up in this market.”
-Maggie Wells, a real estate professional in Lexington, KY.

The window of opportunity for buyers won’t stay open wide for long. NAR data shows that there was a housing shortage prior to the outbreak.

“The temporary softening of the real estate market will likely be followed by a strong rebound, once the quarantine is lifted”
-Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®.

This pent-up demand will likely push home prices higher. That could mean that the time to strike for bargains is now. If you don’t love the place where you’re currently spending most of your time, you should consider buying buying a new place.

The Housing Industry has Adapted to Keep Buyers Safe

woman taking virtual tour on a computer
It is a unique time to be out and about checking out real estate. It is possible to buy a new home while staying safe. The real estate industry has rapidly adapted. There are several new approaches that minimize exposure to the virus.

Many agents are now working remotely and conducting most of their business virtually.

“Buyer and seller consultations have transitioned to virtual meetings with success. Hand sanitizer at the door has become the norm, as well as shoe covers, even on sunny days.”
-Kate Ziegler, real estate agent.

Open houses or showings may not be easy to arrange because of quarantine or other safety issues, but real estate listings have stepped up to the plate by offering virtual tours.

“We can send clients videos of whatever properties they want to see, or we are happy to have our agents FaceTime from a property.”
-Leslie Turner of Maison Real Estate

Those who are immunocompromised may want to stay home, however, if you’re otherwise healthy, it is also still possible to see some homes in person. You’ll want to take some precautions before you go. It’s a good idea to pack some hand sanitizer and tissues before you go out. Make sure you’re prepared to take lots of notes as well. The listing agent may not be present to answer all of your questions on the spot.

During the tour, it’s also now customary for the listing agent to open all doors, so that home buyers can explore closets and other enclosed spaces without touching anything as they look.

If you do make an offer that’s accepted, real estate agents and attorneys are also adapting to remote closings. This helps everyone avoid crowded conference rooms.

Weighing Your Economic Concerns

couple with a bill and credit cards

Even setting concerns about the virus aside, anyone thinking about buying a home is also likely to be considering whether it’s a smart idea when the economy is in a downward spiral. You can’t easily time a stock purchase to make a profit, and you can’t easily time a home purchase, either.

“Recession or not, it’s impossible to time the market, whether for buying stock or buying real estate.”
-Roger Ma, financial planner and owner of lifelaidout.

Keep in mind that while current market conditions offer an incredible opportunity for home buyers. You can lock in historically low interest rates for a mortgage. Currently rates are actually going up quickly because so many people are refinancing.

If you wait too long to buy, you may miss a great opportunity. Putting a property under contract now and locking in a low interest rate gives buyers some control at a time of relative uncertainty.

If you’re worried about layoffs, it might be a good idea to buy a home well under budget so you have enough money left over. Now is the time to crunch your numbers more carefully than ever before. Below is what you need to consider.

  • You may be able to reduce your closing costs. Many loans allow sellers to contribute a closing-cost credit.
  • Figure out how much you should to set aside for maintenance and repairs.
  • Put aside an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

Contact me to discuss your options.