Buying & Selling A Home During COVID-19
COVID-19 has forced the whole world to hit a giant pause button, and as a consequence, the real estate industry has had to make some changes to the way it operates. While real estate professionals are still considered essential workers, our jobs depend largely on the comfort level of our clients, and we must still follow shelter-in-place orders and social distancing guidelines. With such a dramatic change to our social norms, an industry that is traditionally very face-to-face has had to make a quick jump to the virtual world.
If you’re wondering if you can still buy and sell a home in today’s environment, the short answer is YES. Things are being done differently, and there are some challenges for sure. But there are also some significant advantages of buying and selling right now.
Mortgage Rates Are At All-Time Lows
According to FreddieMac, mortgage rates hit an all-time low in March 2020, and as of April 16th, a 30-year fixed rate is just 3.31%. This is a fantastic time for buyers to get a mortgage or refinance! And because the lending industry was largely virtual already, you shouldn’t see much of a difference in the process for obtaining a loan.
Of course, on the other side of this coin is the high unemployment rate, which is going to prevent some people from qualifying for a conventional loan in the coming years. Fortunately, FHA loans are more flexible, and we expect to see new products emerge in response to the layoffs that have occurred out of necessity.
Competition Is Low
This is true for both buyers and sellers right now. For buyers who are serious about finding a house, they are unlikely to find themselves in a bidding war, and may even be able to get a better deal. For sellers, a lot of people who had planned to sell their home may have put their plans on pause to see how everything shakes out. If you’re serious about selling, you’ll likely be competing with a lot fewer other homes right now.
The Paper-Heavy Process Is Getting An Overdue Overhaul
Real estate transactions have always had a reputation for being paper-heavy — a problem that’s needed an overhaul for quite some time. Many agents and lenders have already made the switch to electronic signatures on offers, purchase agreements and mortgage documents. But the final closing table has historically been a different beast due to the in-person notary requirements.
On January 1, 2020, that changed when Florida passed the Remote Online Notarization law. Now, certified remote online notaries can use audio-video conferencing technology to meet the in-person requirements, and allow closing documents to be signed and notarized virtually.
Home Tours Are Virtual
Really this is the only downside to buying and selling a home during COVID-19. Agents, buyers and sellers alike are all concerned about their safety and must uphold shelter-in-place orders. This means that in cases where a home is still occupied, buyers must tour it virtually.
Many real estate agents have already been doing virtual tours to help market their listings, so this isn’t wildly new. But for buyers, those virtual tours are usually just the first step of the process. Most buyers still expect to be able to walk through a home, peek in closets, and listen to traffic. This means listing agents have to be more thorough with their virtual tours, and buyers have to be more flexible with in-person viewings. For buyers uncomfortable with buying a home sight unseen, some purchase agreements are being written subject to a physical showing once shelter-in-place orders are lifted.
The Link Team Is Here For YouWith employment changes come moves, and lots of people are still in a position to buy and sell homes right now. While COVID-19 has changed the way the real estate industry works, it hasn’t shut it down. The Link Team is still here for our Southwest Florida buyers and sellers, and we’re standing by ready to meet with you virtually, until we can meet again in-real-life. Contact us today at 239-357-5058 or through our website to get started!