Home Selling in the Age of Coronavirus

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Real Estate

How the coronavirus is changing how people sell homes

Welcome to the reality of selling a home in the era of the coronavirus. Anxieties abound, not only about catching the COVID-19 virus, but also the volatile stock market, the shaky economy, and general fears of a coming recession—all of which could plunge the U.S. real estate market into a forced hibernation right when it's supposed to leap into overdrive this spring.

“The coronavirus is leading to fewer home buyers searching in the marketplace, as well as some listings being delayed," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®. "In the latest flash survey, 11% of Realtors indicated a reduction in buyer traffic and 7% are reporting lower seller traffic when asked directly about the coronavirus impact on the market. The stock market crash is no doubt raising economic anxieties, while the coronavirus brings fear of contact with strangers."

Ironically, this downturn comes at a time when buying a home is more affordable than ever. Just last week, Freddie Mac reported that interest rates hit a near 50-year low, at 3.29% for a 30-year fix-rated mortgage.

"The dramatic fall in interest rates may induce some potential buyers to take advantage of the better affordability conditions, but it is too early to assess whether lower interest rates can overcome the economic and health anxieties," says Yun.

Nonetheless, he continues, "in the short term at least, home sales will be chopped by around 10%, compared to what would have been the case, due to the spread of coronavirus.”

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