Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, jobs across the country have been greatly affected by this health crisis. Businesses are closing, living rooms are now becoming home offices and virtual classrooms, and people are stocking up on supplies. The stock market has been fluctuating at an unpredictable rate. The financial uncertainty of the nation and global economy is causing many Americans anxiety and fear. On March 19th, 2020, Governor Pritzker ordered Illinois residents to “stay in place” and all non-essential businesses to close. This means playgrounds, parks, and libraries are now closed – and many Americans have lost their jobs.
Some states, including Illinois and Indiana, have labeled lawyers essential workers who can still go into their offices amid stay-at-home orders aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus. “These orders have come as lawyers have reported a high demand for their assistance from clients seeking to address the many challenges and novel legal questions presented by the pandemic. In Illinois, law firm leaders say they welcomed Gov. J.B. Pritzker listing “legal services” under essential businesses that are permitted to be open while the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order remains in effect through April 7.”
Real estate and law firms are both considered an essential service, so for the time being the government is allowing business as usual. Real estate is actually still doing well even in this turbulent time. Homes are selling, open houses still happening (with social distancing in mind), and people are refinancing their mortgages. Realtors and mortgage brokers agree that now might actually be the time to buy or sell your home due to the extremely low interest rates on loans.
“U.S. Mortgage rates hit an all-time low in early March, with the average rate of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropping to a staggering 3.29% according to Freddie Mac, eclipsing the previous low set back in 2012. Just a year ago, though, mortgage rates were hovering in the mid-4% range after almost touching 5% at the end of 2018.” National Association of Realtors
So what does that mean for you and your current real estate situation? Many of us are still feeling unsure about what to do as “buyers” and “sellers” – reaching out to a trusted attorney who specializes in real estate law is a good place to start! Recently, attorney Ben Weaver prompted his social media followers to share some of their concerns.
Ben has shared his insight regarding the current climate. Here are some of the questions posed and Ben’s responses…
How do you think the Coronavirus pandemic will affect home buyers? The shelter order will limit the number of showings for the next few weeks. However, once the order has been lifted, as long as they are financially able, the homes should still be available. Will they delay their decision to buy? Some probably will. However, interest rates remain low. As long as your finances are in order, this is a great time to lock in on a low interest rate.
How do you think this will affect sellers? Sellers will need to be patient for the next few weeks. Are you seeing people take their homes off the market? No. A neighbor down the street just listed a house on Wednesday!
Have your current clients brought up specific questions or concerns they have about following through with their deals during this time? No, just a lot of general what if’s. It’s natural to have questions and concerns right now. Patience is the key. Don’t forget the reason why you’re looking for a home right now. Those reasons you initially started looking for a home will still be there long after this emergency subsides.
How has this affected you as an attorney who relies on moving season for much of your business? For the most part, I’m just as busy as I usually am at this time of the year. I’ve started working with a lot of new clients over the past couple of weeks!
When do you suggest I put my house on the market? I was planning on selling in April, but now with everything going on I am reconsidering… Continue working with your Realtor and follow their advice.
I recently put my home on the market, but now that the pandemic has people self quarantining and worrying about money, I fear I won’t get any bids. What do you suggest? Continue working with your Realtor. Their brokerage is most likely working with an economist who is modeling the market and forecasting the rest of 2020.
With the current low interest rates, is the current real estate market better for buyers or better for sellers? The low interest rates favor buyers. The low inventory favors sellers. There are advantages to both sides right now.
- Smart investors often take advantage of these opportunities, while some would-be investors may finally pull the trigger on purchasing that first or second investment property.
- Sometimes, you have to take advantage of these market disruptions to see that many investors will pump the brakes on investing out of fear and other illogical emotional reasons while others see the opportunity of having access to more real estate inventory, possibly better pricing, and still historically low-interest rates.
- Before this coronavirus threatened the global economy, the state of the U.S. real estate market was great. The median home price nationwide hit a record high of just over 300,000 dollars. This is nearly seven percent higher than in 2019. The number of home sales was up nearly ten percent year over year. According to Redfin, a real estate brokerage, January 2020 was a reliable predictor of the strength of the housing market for the entire year. Their agents were reporting intense competition among homebuyers. Demand was outpacing the supply like never before. January home prices were up 7% year over year, and home sales were up 7% as well.
It’s still too early to assess the true impact that COVID-19 will have on the housing market. While the future at the moment can seem uncertain, there is one thing that is very clear: Americans care about each other! All around the 50 states, there are countless stories about wonderful acts of kindness and people helping each other during these challenging times. Remember to give your neighbor a call to see how they’re doing! If your family has specific questions about your situation, current mortgage, or future loans, attorney Ben Weaver encourages you to reach out to your brokers and local realtor for individual advice. These people are here to help you make wise financial decisions.
If you are still feeling confident, excited, and ready to purchase your dream home or sell your property during this time, attorney Ben Weaver is happy to be of service! Remember we are all in this together…
Be sure to check out our previous blogs for guidance:
- Why First-Time Home Buyers Benefit from Hiring a Lawyer
- Selling Your Home? You’ll Want to Hire an Attorney
For more updates on COVID-19, here are some resources:
- DPH – Department of Health Illinois is a website that will keep you informed on local COVID-19 testing, current number of Illinois residents infected or deaths, and is also a great site for health facts about COVID-19.
- IDPH – Illinois Department of Health provides video feeds of live news alerts. Also gives scheduled times of upcoming meetings.
- Chicago Tribune COVID-19 Pandemic – The Chicago Tribune has cut the pay wall (where you would previously need a subscription to view their site) so anyone can access all important local and global news connected to COVID-19.
- Chicago Tribune’s COVID-19 Cancellations – A running list of Chicagoland-area events cancelled due to the Coronavirus. This page also gives a timeline of our current stay in place order.
- Illinois CDC– Health updates and a comprehensive prevention guideline of “How to Protect Yourself” during this time.
- Chicago.gov – This city website provides the latest information on a range of topics regarding COVID-19 within the city of Chicago, city updates & alerts are available.
- Patch Chicago -Stay connected with your neighborhood by getting local alerts! These alerts can let you know which grocery stores have what or where to find a digital town hall meeting.