Navigating the real estate market is already intimidating, but in these uncertain times, we all have even more questions. As a realtor that maneuvered the 2008 economic crisis, I have seen drastic differences in this COVID-19 market compared to how real estate was affected back then. The processes that worked in that 2008 financial downturn do not translate to this one, and I wanted to answer my five most frequently asked questions that relate to these extremely unique circumstances.
Top Five Questions:
Is now a good time to buy?
This time of year is usually called the “crazy season” in real estate, when realtors at my firm are usually sleeping on the floor in their offices in between showings but times are different now due to COVID-19. Yes we are still busy, but when I am asked that question, I tell my client that they must answer that question based on a number of personal factors, from their health and finances to their comfort level in being in public and moving during a pandemic.
However, since the interest rates are hitting all time lows, this can make it an ideal time for buyers to qualify for higher priced homes at payments they can afford.
One of the biggest challenges buyers are facing, both now and the last few years, is the shortage of inventory. With the pandemic, some sellers have decided to delay their listing until the “all clear” signal, which has only magnified the shortage problem.
Are new safety precautions being implemented in the home-buying process?
Yes. Wisconsin state and local executive orders that have been issued since March 17th dictate whether and how real estate services may continue to be provided during this time. Southeastern Wisconsin’s orders permit in-person services to be provided. When real estate services are conducted in-person, I am implementing recommendations from the CDC to protect myself, clients and customers safely, such as following social distancing measures, utilizing PPE, and giving buyers the option to take a virtual tour of the property. In addition, I am open to any additional measures that would make my customers feel as comfortable as possible.
When should I start talking to a realtor if I want to buy a house in the next 12 months?
Websites such as Zillow.com, which I am a premiere agent of, and Realtor.com make it easy to search for a home online before reaching out to an agent. However, the purchase of a home is infrequent and complex, and even if you’re not a first time home buyer, the process and the market are always changing. If you are buying in a market as unique as this one, it is imperative that you choose a realtor that can navigate you through today’s tough challenges.
If I’m using my stay-home time to make improvements, which ones will add the most resale value?
According to the National Association of Realtors’ Remodeling Impact Report (October 2019), the top five exterior projects in terms of value at resale, regardless of price, were new roofing, new vinyl windows, new fiber cement siding, new wood windows and new vinyl siding.
I always recommend starting with smaller interior projects, such as painting a room a neutral color so it’s simpler for a buyer to imagine your home with their decor and furniture. Small changes like this instantly make your home more appealing.
Do I have to attend the closing? Can I sign paperwork in advance or electronically?
In the state of Wisconsin, most title companies and lending institutions have put measures in place to ensure safe closings. Depending on their guidelines, I help my clients through every step of the process, even if closing must be done in person. That being said, there are circumstances where paperwork can be done electronically.
Not only am I available to answer any questions regarding procedures surrounding the COVID-19 market, but I am also able to guide my customers on the proper decision making actions that adhere to the challenge of the real estate process. With a sharp and expansive knowledge of the Southeastern Wisconsin housing market, I can assist my clients in buying their dream home or selling their property for maximum value, no matter how unique the circumstances. Call me at 262-818-5882 to get started today.