(TNS)—Coronavirus has changed the way we live, and I have received many questions about how it is affecting the real estate market.
So far, the residential real estate market has kept moving. While a few transactions have canceled, the vast majority are moving forward. Lenders are lending, and interest rates are strong.
If you are stuck at home, it is a great time to shop for a lower-rate refinance. Of course, until life gets back to normal, certain precautions are necessary.
Social distancing is a critical consideration. Experienced real estate agents can help buyers narrow down their choices and refine their expectations using online photo albums and virtual tours. Buyers can drive around the area they are interested in to get the feel of the neighborhood.
Even if you do not feel comfortable visiting your prospective new home, you can use this time to figure out what you can afford and which features are most important to you. Work with your lender to get your loan approved.
Most cell phones take great pictures and videos, making it easy for motivated sellers to help their agents beef up their listing.
While I am not recommending visiting a prospective house in person, I am aware that many people are still doing it. If you go this route, be cautious. The real estate agent and buyer should each take their own car. Follow published safety guidelines when looking around the house, avoiding crowds and touching surfaces, and maintaining personal distance. Use common sense and do not feel obligated to continue the tour if you feel uncomfortable for any reason.
The same goes for sellers. While it may be a bit rude to deny entry to a prospective buyer who is hacking and coughing, it is better safe than sorry.
When it is time to write the contract, you should get assistance making sure contingencies are added to account for this crisis. The real estate attorney community is all over this and ready to assist. Many documents can now be signed and even notarized online. Check with the closing attorney and lender to see if they offer this service.
If you do have to go to closing in person, make sure the title company has a detailed COVID-19 plan in place to deal with the crisis.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.
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