How COVID-19 is Impacting Real Estate
2020 started out as a prosperous and hopeful year in so many ways, particularly in the real estate industry. The spring market arrived early, and real estate was hot! Now, though, we are forced to pivot to the big question of the moment: how is Covid-19 impacting real estate?
It’s presence impacts every single person on the planet. First of all, regardless of how this stinker is affecting you, I am sorry. I am especially sorry if you’ve lost a loved one, or have had to nurse someone through this sometimes aggressive illness. I’m sorry if your business is hanging on by a thread, or you have had to file for unemployment. I'm just sorry. I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix it all. I really do.
However, I also want to offer some hope and encouragement to you, specifically regarding your real estate investments. The future of the market is uncertain, but there are some positive signs. And even when the questions are hard, there are options and I am here to help.
Here are the answers to three questions that have been asked of me a lot in recent days, with some links for further reading if you’d like to learn more.
1. How has the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order impacted the real estate sales process?
Real Estate services are considered essential in Washington State. What this means is that although open houses and overlapping showings are suspended for the time being, all other real estate services are still permitted in accordance with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service has put out a very informative release with more details on specific actions that can and cannot occur during the shut down, and you can view that here.
The bottom line is that real estate transactions are still moving, with just a few adjustments and accommodations to the ways we show houses and handle in-person contact.
2. How is the market reacting to the pandemic and the Stay Home Orders?
I'm not going to lie: it's a mixed bag.
Nationally, new listings are down 27% compared to the first week of April of last year. However, in the Seattle region listings are up 2.6%. In our area, people are continuing to sell homes!
Yet, the signs are there that the market is slowing down. Averaged over the past couple of years, when the local market has been HOT, only about 1 out of 5 homes sat on the market more than a month. But right now, it's closer to 2 out of 5 homes. So sellers should expect to wait a few weeks longer to sell their houses. So far, though, with over 60% of homes selling within a month of listing, the market is still moving along. That's not too shabby.
I don't have a crystal ball, though. There are still so many unknowns about not just the virus itself, but about how Covid-19 is impacting real estate and the economy at large. So my advice to someone asking me if it's a good time to sell, or a good time to buy, remains the same as it always is: the right time to buy/sell real estate is when it's the right time for YOU to buy/sell real estate.
It is such a personal decision, and I won't give a one-size-fits-all answer. That's not honest or authentic to who I am. So if you have a question specific to your situation, please reach out to me. I don't sell real estate—I help people through real estate transactions. So if it's not going to help you to buy or sell right now, I'll totally say that. But if you're positioned well for it, let's do it!
3. I am having trouble paying my bills right now. What should I do about my mortgage?
Okay, this is a heavy question, but it is reality for a lot of people right now. If this is you, first take a breath. I know this seems scary. You may or may not know that my husband and I lost our first home to foreclosure due to the 2008 crash. So I mean it when I say that I know what you're feeling, and I also know that this too shall pass.
Now that you've taken a breath here's what I would do: I'd Immediately call the bank that holds my mortgage and ask about forbearance option. The silver lining right now is that more than one out of twenty mortgage borrowers have been granted a pause on their monthly mortgage payments.
You should consider talking to your attorney about what's best for you.
Bonus Question: I don't feel well, but still need to view homes because we're on a time crunch to move. What do I do?
Please take care of yourself and stay home. We can figure out a way to get this done without you risking your health or that of others. Virtual tools and walk-throughs are a great option. I’ve taken a few clients on walk-throughs of houses using video calling. While Covid-19 is impacting real estate for sure, nearly every aspect of real estate transactions can be conducted virtually, if need be. And for those that can't, such as the inspection, if you can't be there I will be.
So, if you are not feeling well you should assess your symptoms, then call your doctors office to consult about next steps. The CDC has a helpful page about what to do if you are sick. Once we all come out on the other side of this virus we will need to hit the ground running to keep our economy strong, but first things first… stay home, stay healthy.
As we all continue to walk through this surreal time, I urge you to look outward and find ways to encourage those around you, whatever that may look like. In recent days, I am drawn to this John Wesley quote now more than ever:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
If you have any other questions about how Covid-19 is impacting real estate, just general real estate questions, or questions specific to your situation, I am available! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me.