As we navigate the (hopefully temporary) new-world order in an attempt to control and contain the global coronavirus pandemic, the real estate industry is making its own constantly evolving set of adjustments. The industry over the past few weeks has centered around two major themes: 1) Super-low mortgage rates that have created a refinancing boom; 2) And the possibility that the coronavirus will force a widespread pause of mortgage payments.
These are uncertain times, to be sure. But those same low rates that are driving refis are also attracting homebuyers. “The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovers above 3 percent, the lowest that it has been in nearly 50 years,” Andrina Valdes, executive sales leader and CEO of Cornerstone Home Lending, Inc., told Apartment Therapy. “The lower the mortgage rate, the lower a monthly mortgage payment is likely to be. So, anyone who’s on the fence and thinking about buying a home could really benefit right now by purchasing at a record-low rate.”
The truth is, there are still homes on the market. There are still people who need to sell. And there are still people who need or want to buy. If you’re one of them, you’re probably wondering how to go about it. iBuyers have largely shut down entirely or shuttered at least temporarily, and several companies, including Keller Williams, have cancelled all open houses, “while smaller brokerages, like the about 100-agent New York-based brokerage Modern Spaces, has closed offices and sales centers, instead offering virtual walk-throughs and tours,” said Yahoo Finance.
So how can you buy something you can’t see? It’s time for technology to take over. “This time the use of technology may have a significant part to play in how the housing market can try and continue in a ‘normal’ fashion,” said Bindi Norwell, chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand on One Roof.
That means that your house tour will probably be virtual. Agents are embracing the tech available to them to bring homes to buyers since they can’t bring buyers to homes.
“As an alternative to in-person viewings, some agents are turning to tech, offering buyers virtual tours,” said the New York Times. “The NYC-based Ideal Properties Group launched a virtual listing viewer called Showings on Demand.
Individual real estate agents have followed suit. Kendyl Young, Broker/Owner at Glendale DIGGS, just held a Facebook Live Open House for her new restored Post and Beam, mid-century modern listing near Brand Park in Glendale, with plans to do more. “I'll show you around the space and take your direction,” she said on Facebook. “Want me to show you a particular room? I will. Missed the part where I showed off the family room? Tell me—I'll go back. A close up of the super cool family room fireplace wall? I'll get closer. You are the PUPPET MASTER and I am at your direction.”
It’s all part of being able to adapt to clients’ needs during this time.
“Buying a home will always be a very human experience, but we need to adapt to this crisis,” she told us. “Physical showings are not safe, and we can marry technologies like 3-D scans, Webb meetings, and video conferencing to provide a pretty reasonable virtual experience. We must find ways to serve our clients while staying safe.”
Elle Jones of Keller Williams’ Harma Real Estate team is showing her new San Fernando Valley, CA listing, among others, via FaceTime. “If you'd like to view a house, I'm happy to go by and do a FaceTime walk through for you,” she posted on Facebook. “If you’d like to see my #Newlisting in #ShermanOaks even better! Let’s get through this together!”