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How Is the COVID-19 Crisis Affecting Real Estate?

By Regina Gables | April 2, 2020

In the wake of COVID-19, real estate agencies, like many businesses, are scrambling to maintain their income flow. Since housing is always a need, however, the real estate market may well recover more quickly than most businesses. In this new stark and uncertain climate, many realtors have stated that they have not seen interest in home buying diminish. But how is this playing out in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis?

A Deadly Virus

The common cold will typically last from 48 hours and up to 14 days. Typically, a person will recover from a cold within 10 days. With this novel strand of coronavirus, the illness can lead to infection of both lungs and may result in the failure of other organs. Symptoms could occur in two to 14 days following exposure. It has been determined that many of those afflicted with COVID-19 recover without the need for special treatment. Those with existing medical conditions, as well as the elderly, are more likely to develop the more life-threatening symptoms. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.

An Essential Business

The federal government has recently labeled residential real estate as an essential business. For professional realtors, it's no longer about sales. The government, along with the real estate industry, is focusing on those with unique challenges and problems. For example, if a family has lost their home because of a fire, including beloved pets, they will receive an insurance payout. Because time is of the essence, this family must find a home immediately. Also, those who have children with special medical needs, who need to move nearer to a hospital that specializes in treating those needs. Realtors are in a unique position to serve many who have fallen on hard times. Individuals still need to buy, sell or rent a home for survival. The real estate industry is a valuable business for those going through death, sickness or job loss.

The Rise of Zoom

With so many states in lockdown mode in order to halt the spread of COVID-19, face-to-face meetings are discouraged. Many real estate agents are using the web application Zoom to hold listing presentations, to talk about a prospective property, or meet with team members. Online Zoom meetings have been given new life. Meetings are definitely not new. Research shows that executives spend at least 23 hours per workweek in meetings. That number is considerably higher when compared to the less than 10 hours spent in meetings during the 1960s. With the rise of COVID-19, however, online meetings have become integrated into business in an entirely new way.

Florida Home Inspectors Changing Practices

There are now many confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida. As a result, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency. In Florida, public inspection of condos is required every 40 years. Should an inspection come due during this time, inspectors must carry out their duties and inspect the property. However, they will do this alone, as homeowners are urged not to join the inspectors. In 1975, in Miami-Dade County, 40-year recertifications went into effect. This program ensures the safety and functionality of buildings 40 years old, though they may not be up to current codes. This new approach to home inspecting is being carried out nationwide.

What About Mortgage Rates?

Mortgage rates were extremely low at the beginning of March, dropping to some of the lowest rates in history. Because of this, financial experts saw an opportunity for homeowners to refinance at low rates and reduce their mortgage payments. This resulted in an influx of refinancing applications. The increasing demand for refinancing loans overwhelmed mortgage capacity. The formerly low mortgage rates disappeared in an effort to alleviate the flow of applications.

Because of the impact caused by business closure and social distancing, the Federal Reserve noticed the devastating economic fallout. The Federal Funds Rate, a borrowing rate between banks to cover deposits and withdrawals, was dropped to almost 0%. Homeowners believed that mortgage rates had dropped to 0%, but this was not true. Because of the confusion, homeowners began to attempt refinancing at an alarming rate.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. When the markets finally stabilize, experts are certain there will be a rapid recovery. Before the onset of the virus, the economy and housing market were stable. Government relief packages and programs will ensure rapid economic improvement.

The media often tends to concentrate on the more glamorous side of real estate. But realtors and sale of real estate serve many who are going through a difficult transition. Current dire situations continue to take place throughout the United States, as protective measures are ongoing. As the economy is still in limbo, all businesses must find creative ways to reach the public. The real estate industry is at the forefront of this ever-growing movement, continuing to offer service and counsel.

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Regina Gables is a Realty Biz News Contributor and a freelance writer. With a background in Journalism, she enjoyswriting on real estate topics such as home buying, real estate technology and opinionated editorials.
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