The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected life across the globe. Strict social distancing measures, school closures, and, in many locales, a ban on all non-essential businesses have turned people’s lives upside down and thrust us into a surreal existence where we’re spending nearly all of our time at home.
From a real estate perspective, it would be disingenuous to say that nothing has changed. Great agents are honest at all times, even (especially) when it’s difficult.
That said, there’s no indication that we’re in (or headed toward) a housing crisis like the once-in-a-century 2008 collapse. And, by all accounts, the fundamentals of the housing market remain in place, despite the safety precautions enforced by health and government officials.
The following list may help you better understand what’s changed and what hasn’t in the world of real estate:
1. Access to showings
In many places, the process of showing a home has changed. Some states have put limits on the number of people allowed to gather in one place, which has impacted open houses. Additionally, sellers, buyers, and agents are taking more precautions to keep themselves safe, with more cleaning, access to protective gear, and enforced distancing measures becoming the norm. Digital-only showings are also growing in popularity, although they’re still relatively new. Despite all this, if there’s a home you’re interested in seeing, it’s still possible to make it happen.
2. The closing process
Much of the work that needs to be done between going under contract to sell or buy a house and the closing can be done remotely and electronically. But there are many things that need to be done by many people throughout the process. From the mortgage, to the title work, to inspections and appraisals, getting to the closing table depends upon a lot of people doing their job. Social distancing and working entirely remotely has a certain learning curve while everyone involved figures out how to get their end of things done. So, the process may take at least a little longer, and change as everyone figures out the best way to handle things. The upshot to this is that it could create better, more efficient ways of doing things moving forward.
3. Some mortgage products
Perhaps the most impactful changes in the real estate industry are happening in the mortgage market. The conditions on certain products are being tightened, and some lenders are temporarily exiting the market altogether. Jumbo loans (a type of financing where the loan amount is higher than the conforming loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency) seem to be feeling the most impact, while conventional loans, which are considered less risky, have been less affected. If you have questions about getting pre-approved, you should contact a mortgage professional who can help you better understand your options.
What hasn’t changed:
1. People’s dreams
Even when the whole world comes to a stop, our hearts and minds do not. We all have dreams, whether it’s owning a fabulous condo in the city, a sprawling victorian with a rolling lawn, or a starter home that we can finally call our own. A pandemic doesn’t change that, even though it can help put things in perspective and remind us of what matters most. But don’t let the strange times we’re in stop you from daydreaming and working toward those dreams. A pandemic is temporary; our hopes are not.
2. Housing demand
There’s been a well-documented housing shortage for years, and there’s no indication that the fundamentals have yet changed. That said, every real estate market is unique, and what holds true on a macro-level may not hold true in your local area. Regardless of the specific market and overall demand in your area, people always need homes, despite a pandemic. So, if you want to sell, there’s likely a buyer for your home. And if you want to buy, there’s likely a seller who’d love to sell.
3. Our desire to help
Most agents eat, breathe, and sleep real estate, and aside from looking out for our loved ones and wishing for a healthy and safe resolution to this mess, that hasn’t changed. We want to help you with your real estate needs because we’re passionate about what we do, and it’s likely that our newfound home-time has coincided with a lot more real estate research than it has with cleaning or learning how to play the guitar.