For months, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on various industries.
Everything has been affected in some way. One big question for renters, newlyweds, and empty-nesters is if this is the right time to buy a house.
However, to answer that, another question needs an answer first. Is it the right time to sell a house?
Normally, it’s fairly easy to answer the question and you can look to the market for guidance. If the market is a high-demand seller’s market, then it’s a good time to sell because a well-priced home could sell within three to 10 days. If the market is a buyer’s market then it might not be a great time because it could take a month or more to sell. However, COVID-19 imposes a load of other factors onto what used to be a fairly simple decision.
If you want to sell, then you must be willing to move. However, most states have travel and moving regulations in place to prevent spreading COVID-19, which makes interstate moving more difficult. Beyond that, if you have any number of pre-existing conditions, children, elderly family, or are planning to go to an area with a denser population, your risk for getting COVID-19 is much, much higher and may force you to remain where you are when you otherwise would be selling. The pandemic is also preventing many people who want to move from being able to find housing since many states are not allowing real estate showings or open houses.
Finally, there’s the fact that unemployment is very high and many people don’t have a sustainable income. Since foreclosure and eviction holidays are no longer in effect, many properties may become available because of terrible circumstances. However, nearly a third of homebuyers are looking for newly built homes both to lower the risk of COVID-19 and to prevent unexpected maintenance costs. Normally, the owners of older homes are able to combat maintenance needs by hiring someone who works in interior design, a $14 billion industry, to stage their homes. Luckily, this is something that continues thanks to online services and apps that can be used to buy and sell properties.
Taking all of this together, it’s difficult to say whether you should sell. It comes down to two personal factors: Can you relocate safely and are you willing to be patient enough for it to sell?
So then, if sellers are still selling, should you be buying property right now? Many of the same factors apply as well as your willingness to possibly lose money on your investment. If you are still unsure whether to buy or sell, talk to a real estate agent near you.