Online real estate service Zillow has a home buying program in 24 states. It stopped the program March 23, 2020 due to COVID-19. As the pandemic has continued, home buying and selling has been changed in every state, including ones with no “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders.
In California, after initial disruption due to COVID-19, by the last week of March, real estate was added to the state’s “essential business operations.” This meant that home sales can continue, but precautions are advisable. A survey conducted by the California Association of Realtors in mid-March found that 54% of its members saw a decline in buyer interest. Some sellers have also backed out of their sales due to COVID-19, but the overwhelming majority were staying in the market.
California real estate pros are working virtually
The California Association of Realtors requested that all of its members should cease open houses shortly after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that all Californians should stay at home starting March 19, 2020.
Before COVID-19, 75% of California’s realtors weren’t offering virtual tours or sales, but now they’re essential. Virtual closings are possible too, and are being used to continue the buying and selling process.
What does this mean for your home buying or selling?
Count on working with real estate professionals using technology. From virtual home tours to conducting the sales and negotiation process online, you can complete a real estate transaction without personal contact. Using virtual signing methods can eliminate the risk of virus contamination.
Interest rates are low and helping buyers and sellers
After the Federal Reserve lowered its interest rate to zero, interest rates increased for about a week. Real estate professionals found that trend hard to explain, but interest rates have adjusted and as of April 1, 2020, were lower than ever for all mortgage products, from 30-year fixed-rate loans to 15-year fixed rate home mortgages and 5/1 ARMs. Refinancing mortgage interest rates are also low, and experts predict that there will be many opportunities to refinance in the coming months.
California’s economic experts predict that with the $2 trillion Federal stimulus bill, the real estate market will not suffer much due to the COVID-19 crisis. The state’s economy is expected to recover quickly once the stimulus takes effect and people are back to work when the crisis is over.