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While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed real estate transactions for some people, housing markets in many areas of the country are showing a strength and resiliency unimagined earlier this spring. It is critical to understand the pandemic’s impact on real estate, from simply touring a home to the ability to close transactions.

As the situation continues to evolve, the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® encourages buyers and sellers to follow CDC guidelines to protect their health and safety. Below are some important tips on buying and selling a home during the pandemic from houselogic.com:

What Buyers Need to Know:
Home tours look a little different
–Where in-person showings are offered, potential buyers can expect quicker tours and asked to take extra precautions, such as removing shoes, using hand sanitizer, and refraining from touching items in the home. Many REALTORS® also are guiding buyers through virtual home tours.

Interest rates are low –Interest rates remain at all-time lows and home prices are rising or holding steady. As more people file for unemployment, however, mortgage lenders have tightened lending standards. Potential buyers can prepare for homeownership by understanding their budget, building a good credit history, and getting prequalified for a mortgage. Some lenders allow borrowers to lock in interest rates for limited time periods.

Don’t expect a discount –Home prices in Silicon Valley are holding steady, with majority of prices higher from one year ago, according to local multiple listing service MLSListings. The median sales price of cities in the county are exhibiting double-digit percentage increases year-over-year. Days on market for most cities are down to the single digits, a sign that homes are selling quickly. The sales-to-price ration averages 102 percent.

Expect delays –Those terminating a lease should leave some wiggle room, even an extra month or two, between moving out of a rental and into a new home in case of an unexpected delay. Hiring moving crews may prove challenging, so buyers should give movers as much notice as possible ahead of their scheduled move.

What Sellers Need to Know:
Use tech tools to help market and show your home
– For sellers uncomfortable with in-person showings, many digital tools are available to help them continue marketing and showing their home. A REALTOR® can help coordinate three-dimensional interactive property scans, virtual tours (either pre-recorded or live), on-demand open houses, and virtual staging to showcase their property. If sellers receive an offer on their home, their REALTOR® has the ability to present it to them virtually.

Take steps to protect yourself – “Sight unseen” purchases are not a new phenomenon, but this pandemic has certainly increased their prevalence. Sellers may want to include language in the purchase agreement that ensures buyers acknowledge they are responsible for personal verification, walkthroughs, and professional inspections to confirm that the property meets their needs.

Buyers are still searching – It continues to be a competitive market due to the limited supply of homes for sale. As potential buyers increasingly browse homes online, having attractive and accurate photos and videos is even more important. Sellers can use this extra time at home to make updates around their home and take fresh pictures of those improvements.

For more information and resources on buying or selling a home, visit www.houselogic.com.

A recent survey by Houselogic.com, the consumer website from the National Association of REALTORS®, finds that jobs and the housing market will be two of the most important issues for voters in the 2012 election. Nearly one-third of respondents said housing will be the top issue on their mind when they head to the polls next November.

Respondents were asked “What issue area will have the greatest impact on your vote in 2012?” National security, health care, and energy/environment trailed housing and unemployment by wide margins. Here are the results:

Jobs/Unemployment – 54 percent
Housing – 27 percent
National Security – 8 percent
Health Care – 4 percent
Energy/Environment – 2 percent
Other – 4 percent

With unemployment still high, it is easy to see why so many Americans are concerned about the job market. However, employment and the housing market are inextricably linked because economic growth and job creation cannot occur without a housing recovery.

Housing accounts for more than 15 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, a key driver of the national economy. Home sales generate jobs. NAR estimates that for every two homes sold, one job is created. New spending on homebuilding products, furniture, and other residential investments also have a significant economic impact.

Some recent indicators show that the economy might be starting to rebound, with pending home sales rising strongly in October, according to NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index. However, any changes to current programs or incentives must not jeopardize a housing and economic recovery. Unemployment, consumer confidence and consumer spending will not rebound until a number of issues are addressed.

This HouseLogic survey shows Americans understand that a housing recovery is essential to the nation’s economic recovery, and many of those housing-related issues will be on the minds of voters in 2012.

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