Wow, what a crazy time. Governor Tom Wolf just placed a shutdown on all nonessential businesses in Pennsylvania, and the entire United States is in emergency status. How will this impact the economy? As a real estate agent, I am asking myself how this will affect the real estate market too. It has been over a month since the news of the Corona Virus started gracing the news screens. Originating from China, it worked its way through 150 countries, causing travel bans, school closings, business shutdowns, and general panic. Although a strong industry, real estate is not immune. So how is it impacting us?
We are doing things differently.
Luckily, most of the paperwork and communication can be done online and electronically. What we are seeing differently is the in-person factor being affected. I have folks looking at purchasing a new construction home, and the builder will only be allowing virtual tours of the model homes.
Will the buyers feel comfortable making an offer on a home they saw through the phone? We are seeing other real estate agents make suggestions on using booties, being firm about not touching anything in the home, sanitizing before and after, canceling open houses and rescheduling if you feel the least bit unwell. This will surely be a different experience than anyone has seen before. Some sellers are looking at it as an opportunity. The buyers that are on the market now, are serious and need to purchase. They may even be able to take advantage of even lower interest rates designed to stimulate home sales. In addition, they have a lot more time due to job restrictions, allowing them to shop more and plan ahead.
No one truly knows how this will affect the real estate market. Watching the stocks the past month was troubling showing the votality. Unlike stocks, in real estate, you have a tangible asset. People need somewhere to live. ShowingTime, which collects data on the number of showings, reported a steady incline in showings until just recently when the number of showings dropped slightly last week.
Overall, people are being more cautious, self quarantining and making decisions based on their motivation to move. Being in the finance sector with lots of online access, Realtors continue to work and serve their clients, using their best judgment and suggestions from the NAR, and Brokers. Every person and industry will undoubtedly be affected, we will see in the coming weeks what that means for those thinking about buying and selling.
Lastly, if you are unable to make your monthly mortgage payments, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reminded mortgage services that a hardship forbearance is an option for borrowers. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to your lender and see what you can do. Even the Federal Housing Administration announced a mortgage payment assistance available for those impacted by the virus. We will continue to monitor the affect this will have on the market, and encourage you to reach out to us if you have questions on what this will do to your home sale, or home search.