In response to the COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that as of March 19, 2020, all Californians should stay at home except for essential activities like shopping for food and going to the pharmacy. Open houses don’t fit the criteria of “essential activities,” so how is the real estate industry handling the COVID-19 crisis?
Virtual open houses
Realtors have offered 360-degree virtual tours of homes for a long time, and now these services are more important than ever. You can continue looking for homes online and see everything without any need to leave your home. You can stay in touch with your realtor using online services as well.
Some realtors are introducing video walk-throughs, which will help you to see homes in more detail than a virtual tour. Already popular, virtual tours and video walk-throughs are safe ways to continue your home search during the coronavirus emergency.
Real estate does not have to come to a halt
Across the U.S., developers are worried that the coronavirus pandemic will halt their projects. Only VA home mortgages saw a slight decline in interest rates when the Federal Reserve lowered the prime interest rate to zero in mid-March. Conventional and FHA home loans saw a slight increase in interest rates in 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 15-year fixed rate home loans, and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).
Deals are still going through, but new listings are slowing or coming to a halt. People still need to move for work or personal needs, but the majority of real estate experts are predicting that the usual spring housing market won’t be happening this year.
If you’re a home seller, you aren’t risking anything by leaving your home on the market while changing to virtual tours and walk-throughs.
Closing deals is one of the main hurdles to continuing real estate transactions. With today’s technology, some closings can occur virtually/online, not requiring parties to the transaction to be in the same room. In California, virtual remote online notarization is still being considered by the state legislature, but COVID-19 makes this law much more of a priority.
You can still look for homes, apply for mortgage pre-approval, and consider listing your home for sale during the COVID-19 pandemic. This unprecedented crisis hasn’t stopped the real estate market, but it is likely to cause lasting changes.