Now nearly two months into the COVID-19 rampage, few (if any) industries remain unscathed by its impact. Were you planning to list your house when all this hit? Or maybe you were in the process of shopping for a new home. Though no one has a crystal ball to predict exactly what the housing market will look like over the next few months, we talked to several leading Realtors for their advice on navigating these uncertain times without derailing your plans. Real estate is considered an essential business, and agents are working tirelessly to ensure client needs are met. “During this time of shelter in place, our homes have arguably never been more valuable to our well-being,” Traci Garontakos (Encore Sotheby’s International, 317-741-0861) says. The pandemic has brought a whole new meaning to the safe haven of our homes.
Current market statistics for Central Indiana:
· Regional sales were up in March 2020 from March 2019 by 5.8 percent.
· Active inventory dropped 12.8 percent.
· The median home price is up 14.8 percent.
Want to buy? Here’s what you need to know:
Surprisingly, right now is still a good time to buy a house, albeit with a few caveats. Job security is a must (both today and in the coming months), as you’ll need to ensure you can afford the mortgage, related fees, moving costs, etc. Financially, you want to have all your ducks in a row. If there’s any uncertainty, it’s best to hold off until your circumstances improve.
Even so, Garontakos says that they’re still seeing a large amount of homes pending daily. “While listing inventory is down from a ‘normal’ spring market, demand remains high. Buyers that are out today are very serious buyers that need to buy now,” she explains. Another positive? Lower interest rates (in the mid 3 percent range) are giving buyers a financial advantage. If you’re ready to shop, brush up on these tips first.
- Talk to a real estate professional and get recommendations for lenders that are managing the current situation well.
- Mortgage products/qualification requirements are changing daily, so having a lender that can adapt and get the transaction closed is imperative.
- Do all the steps before going out shopping for your new home so you are fully prepared (pre-approval, list major wants and needs, and be ready to buy).
- If you’re on the fence about buying, that’s okay—because the market is so limited (and competitive) right now, it’s best to hold off for a few months unless you’re committed to buying right now. “There will be a lot of ready and willing buyers and sellers after COVID-19,” says Will Lonnemann (F.C. Tucker, 317-294-2667).
Want to sell? Here’s what you need to know:
Maybe you desperately need to sell your home, but you’re worried about countless strangers touring and potentially exposing your family to the Coronavirus. While your fear is understandable, Realtors have risen to the occasion, addressed these new concerns, and turned their processes upside down to limit exposure. Lonnemann explains, “Some sellers have left gloves and masks for us at the door. We no longer allow overlapping showings on a property, and closings are being done curbside.”
Open houses are out, and virtual tours are in. “The social media marketing and online presence has become the property’s first showing,” Garontakos says. Realtors may do a FaceTime showing for their clients to further limit exposure. Additionally, desktop appraisals are done as much as possible and inspection attendance is kept to a minimum.
With over 25 years in the industry, Joe Everhart (Everhart Studio, 317-716-5236) admits that Realtors are navigating a new normal. “My job as a Realtor has shifted greatly to being that of a good facilitator. Safely gaining access to physically view the properties for consumers, inspectors and appraisers has been a challenge. Getting to a virtual closing table requires much know-how and flexibility,” he says. If you want to move forward with listing your home now (or soon), keep these tips in mind:
- Spend the time prepping your home—this includes normal maintenance, updating fixtures, painting and staging. You want a buyer to visualize themselves in the home and make a quick decision.
- Prepare as much as you can by talking with your lender and your Realtor. Hear what your Realtor has to say about the price and condition of your home.
- Be sure that your home photos are professionally staged and photographed—your online presence is crucial right now. “A bad online presence and lack of social media equals game over,” Everhart says.
- If you’ve been putting off home projects, don’t. Take advantage of this extra time indoors so the payoff will lead to a better listing price.
While no one knows what the next few months will bring, Realtors are hopeful that the low supply and interest rates will translate to a quick recovery. While they’re looking forward to the future, they’ve also been moved by their industry’s response during these challenging times. Lonnemann explains, “most Realtors are people persons—we love interacting and learning from our friends and clients, so we are doing our best at just touching base with as many people as we can. The sense of community and togetherness between agents, clients, title company and all in the industry has been inspiring.”