If you were thinking about listing your home or recently put it on the market, you may be a little shaken up by the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and wondering if you should still push forward.
While these are uncertain times, it can still be a good time to list your home and find a serious buyer.
Spring homes sell
Traditionally, spring serves as the ideal home selling and buying season. In previous years, approximately 40 percent of home sales happen from March through June, according to the National Association of Realtors.
But according to a new analysis by Capital Economics, home sales may drop 35% annually this spring, compared with the last quarter of 2019. Meaning about four to five million homes will sell this year, the lowest since the start of 1991, according to CNBC.
“Increasingly restrictive measures on people’s movement, and an imminent surge in unemployment,” are the main reasons for this prediction, Matthew Pointon, a property economist at Capital Economics. But Pointon feels when the outbreak is under control, and if Congress takes “decisive measures to support household incomes, pent-up demand from the spring should help sales recover later in the year.”
“Assuming a strong fiscal and monetary policy response, pent-up demand from the spring buying season will help sales recover by the end of the year,” Pointon said.
With that in mind, for motivated sellers, your home could be one of those five million homes sold.
Now is the time to sell
Now is a great time to list your home. Some sellers will take their home off the market, reducing overall inventory. If you list yours or keep it on the market, your listing will stand out.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released that 11 percent of REALTORS® indicated a reduction in buyer traffic, and seven percent are reporting lower seller traffic when asked directly about the coronavirus impact on the market. With a seven percent dip in sellers listing, your listing will pop.
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to almost 0%, which is historically low, making this an appealing time for motivated buyers.
“The dramatic fall in interest rates may induce some potential buyers to take advantage of the better affordability conditions,” Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for NAR, said in a blog post on the organization’s site.
These two factors of low inventory and low-interest rates can make it a perfect environment for a good deal for both the buyer and the seller. If you’re worried that a buyer may try to take advantage of the current state of the economy and make a low-ball offer, fear not. In fact, in some cases, there are even bidding wars happening over a property.
“With fewer listings in what’s already a housing shortage environment, home prices are likely to hold steady,” Yun said.
Should I Still Have An Open House?
The idea of having an open house with countless people in your home may not seem ideal right now, but there are ways to keep your family safe and strategies to implore. The CDC is currently recommending no gatherings of more than 10 people, so your real estate agent can ask people to wait outside or put an advisory on the listing that they must contact the agent before attending.
If you do host an open house, your agent can work to keep visitors in separate rooms. Talk with your real estate agent if it is best to have open houses or not. If you decided against having open houses, allow private viewings for individual buyers.
You could also ask your agent to install a “no-touching” rule, allowing only the agent to open and close the front door, closet doors and cabinets, to minimize how many people are touching surfaces in your home. You should also put away any clutter or items to make sure surfaces are bare. Clearing surfaces will not only make your home look more appealing to buyers, but it will also reduce how many things you need to disinfect after the showing.
You can also ask your agent to ask each interested buyer or opposing agent screening questions. They can ask if the client has recently traveled to an area with Coronavirus infections or if the client has been in contact with anyone with Coronavirus, as long as they ask every person the same screening questions.
If you’re against having open houses because of the CDC recommendations for social distancing, continuing to leave your house listed online can spark interest in potential buyers who are stuck at home and browsing virtually. Work with your real estate agent to add extra photos of your home or provide a virtual home tour.
Many cities are taking steps to protect sellers. In New York, The Real Estate Board ordered all listing sites to stop showing the “days on the market” feature. Removing this feature will help your listing, as a potential buyer won’t think they can make a low-ball offer if your property has been listed for more than 90 days.
How To Keep Your Family Safe While Selling Your Home
Even with a no-touching rule to keep you, your family, and any visitors safe while selling your home, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces before and after someone visits your house.
You could also keep hand sanitizer at the front door, as well as, ask visitors to wear disposable booties and leave their shoes outside.
If you’re unsure where to start, disinfect your tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. You may also want to clean your floors after visitors walk around.
Buy any common EPA-registered household disinfectants, 70 percent alcohol solutions, or dilute bleach with four teaspoons of water per quart of bleach to clean your home. Isopropyl alcohol wipes also work to clean your home’s surfaces. The CDC recommends the solutions be at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective.
What Does The Future Of The Market Hold?
In the United States, we are still in the early stage of the pandemic, so the future can be hard to predict, and the numbers of home sales are an estimate.
If you do accept an offer on your home, be prepared for a slightly longer closing. Some inspections have social distancing rules in effect, and some local municipal offices are running on abridged hours. Check with your local town to stay up to date on how this can affect your sale.
“Even if it takes a little longer to contain (the virus), there are such solid fundamentals for the real estate market, things will play out very well over the long haul,” Yun told Yahoo Finance. “The sky is not falling. This is a difficult time, but in many ways, it could be our finest hour.”