In partnership with the National Assoication of REALTORS® and ApartmentTherapy.com.
Navigating the real estate market was already intimidating, but in this uncertain time, we all have even more questions about how to do it. We asked you, our readers, to share your biggest concerns, which we then passed on to Vince Malta, CEO and broker of San Francisco’s Malta & Co. Malta — who is president of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) — channeled his 43 years of experience to offer advice about buying and selling in this strange new environment. Wherever you are in your real estate journey, start with a Realtor®, a member of NAR, whose expertise can help you find the right path.
OUR TWO MOST BURNING QUESTIONS
Every person who dreams of owning a home has to answer that question individually based on a variety of factors — ranging from their personal financial picture to what’s available in their market to how long they plan to stay in one place.
While searching for and buying a home during the COVID-19 pandemic presents some challenges, with mortgage interest rates at an all-time low, for some it may be an ideal time to buy. Thankfully, the real estate industry has quickly adapted to the current circumstances and is leveraging technology that allows buyers to continue their home search virtually and close transactions using safety precautions or remote online notarization.
One of the biggest challenges buyers have faced in the last several years is a shortage of inventory. With the health crisis and stay-at-home orders, some sellers have pulled out of the market or delayed listing their properties, which only exacerbates the inventory challenge.
If you are a buyer in today’s marketplace, make sure you’re working with a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Realtors® understand the local market and can help guide you through today’s unique challenges, leveraging creative solutions to help make your dream of homeownership a reality.
Historical data, going back 50 years, shows that mortgage interest rates have never been lower. So, it sure sounds like a good time to consider refinancing, but this is a question to discuss with a lender or qualified financial planner.
If you do decide to refinance, be prepared: Lenders I’ve talked to are managing a high volume of applications, so you’ll need patience — along with outstanding credit. More than 2 million borrowers have sought forbearance on their mortgage payments as a result of the current situation. Some lenders have responded by tightening credit standards, including raising minimum credit scores. So make sure your financial house is in order, you’re continuing to pay bills on time, and you’re keeping debt manageable.
THE MARKET RIGHT NOW
3. What is the best place to find information about how COVID-19 is affecting the home-buying process in my area?
Contact a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Realtors® can provide insights into how your local market is affected by COVID-19 and can help you understand how stay-at home orders, and other local, state and federal government actions and recommendations, are impacting the home-buying process.
Websites like realtor.com make it easy to search for a home online before reaching out to an agent. However, the purchase of a home is infrequent and complex — and even if you’ve done it before, the process and the market are always changing. So we recommend you consult an agent early in the process. That way, when you find the right home, you’ll be ready to make an offer. In fact, it’s a good idea to interview multiple real estate professionals in order to find the one that you think is the right fit for your needs. And, of course, make sure you’re talking with members of the National Association of REALTORS®, who pledge to operate by a strict Code of Ethics.
HouseLogic, an NAR website for real estate sellers, buyers, and owners, offers these tips for selecting an agent.
And that’s where we are now. Of course, we’re in a continuously changing situation, and everyone’s situation is unique. If you still have questions visit realtor.com/thats-who-we-r/ to find your local expert. We’ll all get through this together.