Whether you should stay in the market and continue to find a home to purchase depends. First off, it depends on your job security. It also depends on your finances
QUESTION: My boyfriend and I started looking at homes a couple of months ago with the hope of finding something to buy before the lease on our apartment runs out June 1. In the last couple of weeks, it seems like everything has turned upside down because of the coronavirus. Is this still a good time to buy (I’m thinking of low interest rates) or should we wait until this whole pandemic ends, hopefully soon?
ANSWER: Yes, the coronavirus pandemic has happened with lightning speed, upending life for millions of people. The stock market is in turmoil, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, possibly for many weeks to come. Businesses have been ordered shut down, people have been told to stay inside, venturing out only for necessities. And like everything else right now, the housing market has also been disrupted.
Whether you should stay in the market and continue to find a home to purchase depends. First off, it depends on your job security. It also depends on your finances.
The stock market crash has eliminated billions of dollars from people’s portfolios and made everybody feel a lot poorer than they were just a month ago. On the other hand, as you say, interest rates are historically low.
There are fewer buyers in the market as people pause to take stock, and sellers, anxious to sell, may be more willing to deal. If you don’t have a home you have to sell, your job is secure and your down payment, closing costs and finances intact, this might be a good time to buy. But you should be aware that there are new rules out there that will make the home buying process more difficult and stressful. For example, seeing homes is more difficult as sellers and agents cancel open houses.
A lot of these open houses will move to virtual tours online where most buyers start their home search anyway. When you do make an appointment to see a home in person, you will likely be met with hand sanitizer and booties. Agents will likely discourage you from touching appliances and opening closets.
Be sure to douse your hands with sanitizer before entering the home and after leaving it, and washing your hands thoroughly after you arrive back at your apartment. Also be prepared for electronic notarizing and document signing.
This pandemic is a developing situation with more illness and restrictions happening daily. There may be delays in setting up appraisals and home inspections if someone gets sick or an office closes. Ditto for your closing: It could get delayed.
Check with your landlord ahead of time to see if your occupancy can be extended if your closing is postponed. Also check about any new rules regarding moving – times, restrictions on elevator use, people coming in and out of the building.
Events are moving so fast you need to have contingency plans. This could be a good time to buy or it could be a good time to wait a bit until the pandemic subsides.
Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.