Spring is upon us, which typically involves a big peak of home buyers checking out properties, negotiating, and closing on new places. But the coronavirus outbreak—with its quarantine measures and economic uncertainties—has many a real estate shopper wondering: Should I buy a home now, or wait?
We're here to help you navigate this confusing new normal with this series, "Home Buying in the Age of Coronavirus."
This first installment aims to help you figure out whether you can—and should—shop for a home right now, or hold off until this crisis blows over. Read on for some honest answers that will help you decide what to do.
“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®. The latest NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse, conducted on March 16 and 17, found that 48% of real estate agents have noticed a decrease in buyer interest attributable to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, nearly an equal number of members (45%) said that they believe lower-than-average mortgage rates are tempting buyers to shop around anyway, without any significant overall change in buyer behavior. For those who are determined to buy a home, there is opportunity out there. “This is the best buyer's market I have ever seen in my career,” says Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers and Bravo’s "Million Dollar Listing New York."
“Sellers are nervous, there’s excess supply, and interest rates have been hovering at historic lows. You can own a home for less per month than you can rent an equivalent property in most areas," he adds.With fewer home buyers out there looking, you have less competition in your way."Unmotivated and uncommitted buyers have dropped off," adds Maggie Wells, a real estate professional in Lexington, KY. "Less competition is a huge leg up in this market."
The window of opportunity for buyers won't stay open wide forever. NAR data shows that there was a housing shortage prior to the outbreak."The temporary softening of the real estate market will likely be followed by a strong rebound, once the quarantine is lifted," says Yun.This pent-up demand could eventually push home prices higher. That could mean that the time to strike for bargains is now.
Bottom line: If social distancing has made you realize you don't love the place where you're currently spending most of your time, it's a good time to consider buying.
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