The Blog ofSarah Marrinan

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

For those that have been planning a move, spring is here and anxious buyers and sellers are ready to go! But with the Coronavirus all over the news, it now a good time to buy a house in Minnesota?

Today, March 16, 2020, Melissa Dittmann Tracey wrote in REALTOR Magazine “As new restrictions on American life, including extensive closures of schools, restaurants, and bars in cities across the country, exacerbate the efforts surrounding the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus, real estate brokerages are adapting their businesses and preparing their clients for what could be a chaotic few weeks or months ahead in the housing market.”

While we don’t know what the future holds, here is what we do know.

  • There is a lot of demand for homes. Housing inventory has been hovering around record lows and so have mortgage interest rates. This means many entry level homes are receiving multiple offers.
  • During three out of the last five recessions, housing values have remained stable or increased.

 

The article goes on to say, “Potential buyers thus far have appeared resilient in the face of panic. ShowingTime, which collects data on the nearly 1 million showings scheduled through its system nationwide each week, has begun tracking the potential impact of coronavirus on home tours. “Looking at the data so far this year, we have not yet seen a significant drop in national buyer activity,” ShowingTime reports. “There may be future effects of COVID-19, so the situation will be monitored closely. At this time, it seems most buyers and sellers do not regard seeing a few individual homes with their agent as a significant risk.” Indeed, only 16% of REALTORS® nationwide report reduced buyer interest in their markets since the coronavirus scare began in the U.S. in January, according to a National Association of REALTORS® survey released last week

Which is how things seem to be going here in Minnesota. Agents that have seen a loved one affected by the Coronavirus are taking this very seriously – some are even self-quarantining and suspending their business. Other agents seem unphased and appear to be going about business as usual.

However you feel, it’s important that we respect how others feel.

We need to respect buyers that would like to remain in quarantine yet still want to search for a home virtually. This means that the agents of sellers need to make sure their listing is well photographed (including basements and mechanicals) and 3D or video tours should be considered to help sellers reach these buyers. Agents representing these buyers should be prepared to video conference with their buyers from the showing, utilize a showing agent or refer the buyer to another agent if they are in quarantine themselves.

Nationally, REALTORS® surveyed by NAR reported sellers taking extra precautions such as requiring buyers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, or asking buyers to remove shoes, wear shoe/sock covers during showings, requesting buyers that are sick or have recently traveled abroad stay away and cancelling public open houses to reduce unqualified foot traffic.

A CRE survey of corporate real estate professionals, who manage property assets for large corporations, shows those pros are taking extra precautions such as Increased access to hand sanitizers (92%), travel restrictions (88%), enhancing building cleaning, janitorial, and sanitation efforts (85%) on site. They are also expanding their use of virtual meetings versus face-to-face meetings (76%) and postponing or canceling business meetings (69%).

Because we don’t know what the future holds, it’s best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. See my previous article “CoronaVirus and Real Estate” for more home buyer and seller tips on navigating the real estate market safely during this COVID-19 outbreak.

As a buyer, here is what you can do to be prepared. 

  • Make sure you have talked to your lender and secured the best financing plan for you.
  • Study all listing details online, look at maps, drive past the home and request disclosures before going to see the home.
  • Understand that you WILL have to compete for the best entry level homes in the Twin Cities so shop under your budget and get creative with terms and conditions you can offer the seller.

For everyone, spend your time safely and wisely by taking extra step mentioned above at the beginning of the process.

It’s a great time to buy a home!

Stay safe and be well!