Mortgage Application Volume Continues Decline

The volume of
mortgage applications for both home purchase and refinancing fell for the third
straight time during the week ended February 19.
The Mortgage Bankers
Association (MBA) says its Market Composite Index, a measure of that volume,
dropped 11.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. It was the largest single
week decline since the week ended April 3, 2020. On an unadjusted basis the index
was down 10.0 percent.

The Refinancing
Index decreased 11 percent from the previous week but was still 50 percent
higher than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage
activity decreased to 68.5 percent of total applications from 69.3 percent the
previous week.

The seasonally
adjusted Purchase Index dropped 12 percent and was 8 percent lower before adjustment.
Activity was 7 percent higher than the same week one year ago.


Refi Index vs 30yr Fixed


Purchase Index vs 30yr Fixed


rates have increased in six of the last eight weeks, with the benchmark 30-year
fixed rate last week climbing above 3 percent to its highest level since
September 2020. As a result of these higher rates, overall refinance activity
fell 11 percent to its lowest level since December 2020
, but remained 50
percent higher than a year ago,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President
of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Additionally, the severe winter weather
in Texas affected many households and lenders, causing more than a 40 percent
drop in both purchase and refinance applications in the state last week.” 

Kan, “The housing market in most of the country remains strong, with activity
last week 7 percent higher than a year ago. The average loan size of purchase
applications increased to a record $418,000, in line with the accelerating
home-price growth caused by very low inventory levels.” 

FHA share of total applications jumped to 11.2 percent from 9.0 percent the previous
week while the VA share fell to 11.9 percent from 13.2 percent and the USDA
share dipped 0.1 point to 0.3. The balance of all loans was $344,800, up from
$338,200 and for purchase loans the balance grew from $412,200 to $418,000.

The average
contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) with balances at
or below the current conforming limit of $548,250 increased to 3.08 percent
from 2.98 percent, with points increasing to 0.46 from  0.43. The effective rate was 3.22 percent. 

rate for jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, loans with balances greater than the
conforming limit, increased to 3.23 percent from 3.11 percent, with points increasing to 0.43 from
0.35. The effective rate was 3.35 percent.

FRM backed by the FHA had an average rate of 3.00 percent with 0.33 point. The
prior week the rate was 2.93 percent with 0.27 point. The effective rate
increased to 3.10 percent.  The rate for
15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased 9 basis points to 2.56 percent and
points grew to 0.40 from 0.36. The effective rate was 2.66 percent.

average contract interest rate for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) was unchanged
at 2.83 percent, with points
decreasing to 0.36 from 0.70. The effective rate declined to 3.10 percent.  The ARM share of applications increased from
2.4 to 2.7 percent.  

MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Applications
Survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers over 75 percent of all U.S.
retail residential applications Respondents include mortgage bankers,
commercial banks, and thrifts. Base period and value for all indexes is March
16, 1990=100 and interest rate information is based on loans with an 80 percent
loan-to-value ratio and points that include the origination fee.

MBA’s latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey found a 7-basis point
decline in the total number of loans in forbearance t
o 5.22 percent of all
first liens as of February 14, 2021. According to MBA’s estimate, 2.6 million homeowners
are in forbearance plans.  Of those
loans, 15.9 percent are in the initial forbearance plan stage, while 81.6
percent are in a forbearance extension. The remaining 2.5 percent are re-entries
in the program. 

share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSE) loans in forbearance decreased to
2.97 percent –
a 4-basis-point improvement. Ginnie Mae (FHA and VA) loans in forbearance ticked
down 2 basis points to 7.32 percent, while the forbearance share for portfolio
loans and private-label securities (PLS) decreased by 20 basis points to 8.94
percent. The percentage of loans in forbearance serviced by independent
mortgage banks (IMB) fell 15 basis points to 5.54 percent, and the percentage
of forborne loans in depository servicers’ portfolios rose 2 basis points to
5.28 percent.

“The share of loans in forbearance has declined for
three weeks in a row, with portfolio and PLS loans decreasing the most this
week. This decline was due to a sharp increase in borrower exits, particularly
for IMB servicers,” said
Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Requests for new
forbearances dropped to 6 basis points, matching a survey low.” 

Fratantoni added, “The housing market is
quite strong, with home sales, home construction, and home price data all
testifying to this strength. Policymakers and the mortgage industry have helped
enable this during the pandemic by providing millions of homeowners support in
the form of forbearance. The decision to extend the allowable duration of
forbearance plans should provide for a smoother transition this year as the job
market continues to recover.”

MBA’s latest Forbearance and Call
Volume Survey covers the period from February 8 through February 14, 2021 and
represents 74 percent of the first-mortgage servicing market (37.1 million


Home Decor – Rents, Home Prices In New York City Drop At Steepest Pace On Record In January – Fintech Zoom

Home Decor – Rents, Home Prices In New York City Drop At Steepest Pace On Record In January


Rents and home prices in New York City fell at the fastest annual rate on record in January, largely due to an inventory glut that may take the city’s housing market years to recover to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

Key Facts

Rents in New York City dropped by the largest year-over-year pace on record in January, plunging 15.5% in Manhattan and 8.6% in both Brooklyn and Queens, according to StreetEasy, an online real estate marketplace.

The median asking rent (the rate offered by a landlord to a prospective tenant) in Manhattan amounted to $2,750 in January — the lowest level since March 2010, when the city’s economy was emerging from the financial crisis.

The median asking rent in Brooklyn in January was $2,395 while in Queens, it was $2,000.

StreetEasy attributed the falling rents to excessive supply, as there are twice as many rental properties available in Manhattan and Brooklyn compared to a year ago, and almost that many in Queens.

With respect to home sales, Manhattan and Brooklyn again witnessed record year-over-year price declines in January — down 6.2% and 5.4%, respectively.

The median asking price for a home in Manhattan was $1,350,000 in January; in Brooklyn, $925,000.

Surprising Fact

Despite the significant drops in prices, pending sales activity – meaning property transactions that have entered into a contract – have jumped 17.3% and 30.8% year-over-year in Brooklyn and Manhattan, respectively, due to a 57% year-over-year surge in contracts for luxury properties (defined as the top 20% of the market, or valued at a minimum of $3.7 million). However, the rapid increase in signed contracts still failed to offset the rise in available inventory, meaning the average price on homes still declined. Even at the luxury tier, there’s 25% more inventory than last year. “It’s rare that we see record high price drops in both the rentals and sales market, but landlords and sellers are dealing with the same issue right now: a surplus of competition and not enough demand,” said StreetEasy economist Nancy Wu in a statement. “Asking prices and monthly rents are coming down quickly, which means that landlords and sellers are finally facing reality. With inventory levels as high they are, there’s currently no end in sight when it comes to falling [New York City] real estate prices — good news for buyers and renters hoping to secure a good deal this year.” 


What To Watch For

New York City property sellers may have to brace for even more price reductions, Wu warned. “There’s no end in sight for how long prices will continue to decline,” she added. “This 6% drop in Manhattan [sales] seems to be the first milestone of what’s yet to come.”

Key Background

The pandemic hurt New York real estate industry in 2020 as at least 300,000 city dwellers fled either because they lost their jobs or sought to move to the suburbs for larger living spaces. Unemployment in the city reached 12% in November, before edging down to 11.4% in December (still almost double the national jobless rate). Even after city residents undergo mass vaccinations, it might take years for rental prices to return to pre-pandemic levels due to permanent losses in jobs and inventory overhang, Wu told the New York Times. A somewhat similar scenario is playing out on the other coast in San Francisco, where a mass exodus by tech workers led to a 35% drop in rental prices over the past year. 

Crucial Quote

“Inventory has been at record highs, and buyers have had more options. What’s happening now is that sellers seem to be coming to terms with the fact that there’s record inventory on the market, and unless they reduce prices significantly, it won’t sell,” said Nancy Wu.

Home Decor – Rents, Home Prices In New York City Drop At Steepest Pace On Record In January

Tags: Home Decor


The last stand for forbearance housing market crash bros?

In 2021, a lingering symptom of the economic sickness we suffered in 2020 is forbearance. Not the forbearance plans themselves, which allowed mortgage holders to delay their payments for many months, but the fact that 2.72 million homes remain in forbearance and can therefore be considered at risk. Forbearance will have to end at some point, and when it does, couldn’t all these homes flood the housing market at once, driving prices down and scaring would-be homeowners away from purchasing? 

We know the current status of the housing market in America is vigorous, if not hot. The MBA purchase application data is growing at a trend of 12% year over year. This growth is 1% higher than the peak of what I forecasted for 2021, up until March 18.

So while the housing market bubble bears predicted a crash due to the COVID crisis, the exact opposite is happening. Home price growth is accelerating above my comfort zone for nominal home price growth, which is 4.6% or lower. As I have written many times, the housing market’s current strength is not because of COVID-19, but despite it.  Demographics plus low mortgage rates serve as the one-two punch that knocked out COVID-19.

In 2018/2019, when mortgage rates got to 5%, all it did was cool down price gains in the existing housing market. Real home prices went negative year over year, which I wrote back then was very healthy and what the housing market needed.

Here’s how to find property owners ready to sell

In today’s low-inventory environment, complicated by external factors such as forbearance and foreclosure moratoriums, it’s crucial for real estate agents and brokers to be proactive in order to grow their business.

Presented by: PropStream

Today, inventory levels are at all-time lows, and the purchase application data index is above 300. This means home price growth is getting too hot! Just look at the difference 2020 brought into the data lines.

The question remains: will all this strength in the housing market dampen or erase the risk of having all those homes in forbearance once forbearance ends? Here are three reasons you don’t have to worry.

First, the latest chart from BlackKnight shows us that the number of homes in forbearance has been decreasing. We are well off the peak. I expect this number to decline as our employment picture improves; however, there will be a lag period for this data line to show more improvement. 

Second, and this is critical to the story, homeowners’ credit profiles, when they originated their loans, were excellent. The previous expansion had the best loan profiles I have seen in my life. These buyers, especially those who purchased from 2010-2017, have fixed low debt costs due to low mortgage rates, with rising wages and nested equity. As home prices continue to grow beyond expectations, these homeowners have added another year of gains to their nested equity.

In this way, the current housing market backdrop is unlike the housing credit bubble years when loan profiles weren’t healthy, and we had a debt leverage speculative market. Last year, I wrote about the forbearance crash bros to outline their problems with their crash thesis. Here is a link to one of those articles.

And the third reason we don’t have to worry about a crash when forbearance ends is J.O.B.S.!

The primary reason I believe the crash thesis of the housing market bubble boys turned forbearance crash bros will fail is that jobs are coming back. The employment gains started last year and have continued.  We have gained 12,470,000 jobs – and that was not in the forecast of the housing bubble boys.

The February 2020 nonfarm payroll data, which accounts for most workers, had roughly 152,523,000 employed workers. We got as low as 130,161,000 employed workers during the Covid crisis peak and are now back to 142,631,000. We are still short 9,892,000 jobs, which is more than the jobs lost during the great financial crisis.

Sadly, but to be expected, the last two jobs report combined were negative. We will not get back to the employment level we had in February 2020 while COVID-19 is with us, which prevents some sectors from operating at full capacity.  So job growth remains limited until we get more Americans vaccinated.    

Think of this period as the calm before the job storm. 

And the job storm is coming. We are vaccinating people faster every week that goes by. We just need time, and then all the lost jobs will come back and then some. Even those 3.5 million permanent jobs lost will be replaced.

This isn’t 2008 all over again. That housing market recovery was slow, but today our demographics are better, and our household balance sheets are healthier. The fiscal and monetary assistance now is hugely improved from what we saw after 2008. We have everything we need to get America back to February 2020 jobs levels; we just need time.

I am convinced that the number of homes under forbearance will fall as more people gain employment. Expect the forbearance data to lag the jobs data, but they will eventually coincide. 

Disaster relief is coming, and then when we can walk the earth freely, look for the government to do a stimulus package to push the economy along. By Aug. 31, 2021, we will have a much different conversation about the state of U.S. economics. Hopefully, by then, the 10-year yield will have hit 1.33% and higher. Wait for it!

If the jobs data continues to worsen and we decide it is too expensive to help our American citizens in this crisis, we will likely see an uptick in distress sales and forced selling, but we still would not see a bubble crash in the housing market. It may suppress home price growth, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing since my most significant concern in housing is that home prices are growing too fast.  I recently talked about it on Bloomberg Financial. 

If we are battling COVID-19 as war, would we leave any American behind? Imagine during wartime if we were told to build our tanks, rifles, and gear to fight the war without government assistance. The government can do certain things that the private sector can’t. Without COVID-19, we would still be enjoying the most prolonged economic and jobs expansion in history and have debates about what constitutes full employment. But it happened, and we have the power to leave no American behind once again.

Think about that next time you see someone hawking a housing market bubble crash thesis. All the jobs will come back in time, and we will all be walking in the sun again without a mask. Until then, we need to support government programs, like disaster relief and programs that help homeowners in forbearance get out of it, and help renters too. Let’s not leave any American behind in this war against COVID-19.


Pending Home Sales Fall on the Month, but the Midwest Is Hit the Hardest

The numbers: The index of pending home sales dropped 0.3% in December, marking the fourth consecutive month of declines, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. The index measures real-estate transactions in which a contract is signed, but the sale had not yet closed.

Compared to 2019, pending sales were still up 21%, a sign of how strong the market is right now despite the recent weakness.

What happened: Pending sales didn’t fall across all regions, as was the case in November.

In fact, the Midwest was the only region to experience a decline, with a 3.6% drop. Pending sales were flat in the West and rose by 3.1% in the Northeast and 0.1% in the South.

The big picture: In the months to come, the story will be whether the number of listings of homes for sale will grow to meet demand.

“Pending home-sales contracts have dipped during recent months, but I would attribute that to having too few homes for sale,” said Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist. “There is a high demand for housing and a great number of would-be buyers, and therefore sales should rise with more new listings.”

It’s not clear precisely what has held sellers back from putting their homes on the market. But the problem could be a self-perpetuating one: Some buyers might be seeing the dearth of homes for sale and be reluctant to list their own for fear of not finding somewhere to move to.

What they’re saying: “Demand for existing homes remains strong but supply is likely restraining sales figures,” said Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams. “We expect to see continued price acceleration in the near term as a result of record-low inventory levels that have persisted for several months now.”

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both fell in Friday morning trades.


Mortgage rates hit all-time lows – The Washington Post

Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage investor, aggregates rates from 125 lenders across the country to come up with national average mortgage rates. It uses rates for borrowers with flawless credit scores. These rates are not available to every borrower.

The 15-year fixed-rate average fell to 2.62 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 2.7 percent a week ago and 3.46 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable-rate average slid to 3.13 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.17 percent a week ago and 3.6 percent a year ago.

“The low rate environment is a result of investors continuing to prefer the safety of bonds and [Federal Reserve] buying,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at “Low rates are energizing home buyers with a boost in affordability and are bringing them back to the housing market, despite the swirling economic uncertainty.”

As data released this week showed, the housing market is starting to rebound, no doubt buoyed by low mortgage rates. New-home sales were predicted to tank in April but instead moved slightly higher. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, new-home sales were up 1 percent last month.

“The coronavirus pandemic has generated any number of nasty surprises over the past few months, but the unexpected strength in April new-home sales may be the first pleasant surprise yet — and the clearest indicator so far that housing, so unlike the last time around, will be a source of relative strength during this downturn,” said Matthew Speakman, a Zillow economist. “New-home sales are often a more current measure of activity than existing-home sales, and it seems clear that after some initial wobbliness, the market has certainly stabilized.”

Although buyers may have been hoping the pandemic would cause home prices to fall, that hasn’t been the case so far. Home values climbed 4.4 percent nationally in March, according to the S&P Case Shiller index released this week.

“Relative to the broader economy, the housing market — particularly home prices — have gotten away more or less scot free so far,” Speakman said. “The strong buyer demand heading into this crisis has held fairly steady in the months since the outbreak, as record-low mortgage rates and inventory levels have maintained competition in the markets and placed upward pressure on home prices. Still, so much remains uncertain — including the longer-term path for home prices — but for now, competition for homes is holding strong and keeping prices afloat.”

“This will be another week of little change to rates,” said Gordon Miller, owner of Miller Lending Group in Cary, N.C. “I don’t see any reason for higher rates and nothing compelling for lower rates yet, either.”

Meanwhile, with home buyers returning, mortgage applications picked up this week. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — increased 2.7 percent from a week earlier, mainly because of the greater number of purchase applications. The purchase index moved higher for the sixth week in a row, rising 9 percent, and was up 54 percent from early April. Most notably, the purchase index gained 9 percent year-over-year, the first annual increase since the pandemic hit.

The refinance index slipped 0.2 percent but was 176 percent higher than it was the same time last year. The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 62.6 percent of applications.

“The mortgage market has been active in recent weeks, with lenders reporting stronger borrower demand in many of the states that are gradually reopening,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and CEO. “Refinance activity decreased last week but remains significantly higher than last year.”

Chicago radio host AC Green has offered mortgage advice for more than 17 years on air. Here’s how he suggests managing mortgages in these uncertain times. (The Washington Post)


U.S. Pending Home Sales Fall 1.1% in October as Higher Prices Discourage Buyers

The numbers: A measure of pending home sales fell in October for the second month in a row, signaling the surprisingly strong surge in demand during the pandemic might be ebbing.

The index of pending home sales dropped 1.1% in October after a 2.2% decline in September, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

While pending sales are still up 20% compared to a year earlier, rising home prices could be cutting into demand. Cooler weather and a record increase in U.S. coronavirus cases might also be hurting sales.

The index measures real-estate transactions in which a contract is signed, but the sale had not yet closed.

What happened: The South was the only major region to post an increase in pending sales, though just barely.

Pending sales posted the biggest decline in the Northeast.

The big picture: Record low mortgage rates and an increase in families leaving cities to escape the coronavirus have boosted home sales during the pandemic, leading to a flush in spending on furnishings and other related goods. The housing market has been a surprising bright spot for the economy.

Yet the spike in demand has reduced the inventory of homes for sale, which were already in short supply, to a historic low. That’s pushed up prices, discouraged would-be buyers — and could lead to softer sales in the future.

What they’re saying:  “The housing market is still hot, but we may be starting to see rising home prices hurting affordability,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both fell in Monday trades.


Home Builder Confidence Surges to New Record High as Sales Volume Grows

The numbers: The construction industry’s outlook improved again in November, according to research from a trade group released Monday.

The National Association of Home Builders’ monthly confidence index rose five points to a reading of 90 in November, a record high, the trade group said Tuesday. It is the fourth consecutive month that the index has hit a new record high.

Index readings over 50 are a sign of improving confidence. Back in April and May, the index dropped below 50 as pandemic concerns mounted.

What happened: The index that measures sentiment regarding current sales conditions increased six points to 96, while the index of expectations for future sales over the next six months rose one point to 89. The gauge regarding prospective buyers increased three points to 77.

At a regional level, though, confidence varied. The indexes for the Midwest, South and West all increased, led by a nine-point gain in the Midwest. But in the Northeast the index dropped fives point to 82.

“In the short run, the shift of housing demand to lower density markets such as suburbs and exurbs with ongoing low resale inventory levels is supporting demand for home building,” Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said in the report.

The report was based on survey responses, most of which were collected before the presidential election was called for former Vice President Joe Biden on Nov. 7. December’s report will more fully capture the reactions of the home-building sector to the election.

The big picture: Builders’ optimism is an indication of the continued strength of the housing sector. While recent data, including mortgage application figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association, suggest that buyers are pumping the brakes on making deals, that’s not a cause for concern for builders. Rather, it’s a sign that seasonality is kicking in after a delayed spring and summer home-buying season continued into the early fall.

The conditions that make buying a newly-built home right now appealing are still present — and should be for some time. Even if mortgage rates increase because of a coronavirus vaccine, economists expect them to remain low by historical standards. And while Americans’ interest in the suburbs has grown, the supply of existing homes for sale has not. That leaves an opening for home builders.

“The strength in the housing market likely has legs, as it will take quarters and likely years for builders to catch up with the one-time spike in demand for single-family homes,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, said in a research note last week after D.R. Horton released its quarterly earnings.

What they’re saying: “The October retail sales and industrial production reports, together with the November homebuilder survey, capture activity in the three strongest parts of the economy. But they have nothing to say about the deteriorating picture in the discretionary services sector, which is being hammered by the third COVID wave,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note.

“The signal from the weekly mortgage purchase applications index is also one of some slowing in momentum,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index were down Tuesday morning following the disappointing retail sales report.


Consumer Confidence in Housing Falls Again As COVID-19 Pandemic Surges

The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) fell for the second straight month in December to 74.0, a 6.0 point decline from November.

Five of the six HPSI components decreased month over month, and consumers reported a substantially more pessimistic view of homebuying and home-selling conditions, which drove the relatively large monthly change. Year over year, the HPSI is down 17.7 points.

“The HPSI declined for the second consecutive month and fell to its lowest level since May 2020, as consumers adjusted to the worsening COVID-19 conditions of the first few weeks of December–the survey collection period,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Both the ‘Good Time to Sell’ and ‘Good Time to Buy’ components fell significantly, with respondents overwhelmingly noting the unfavourability of economic conditions. In particular, the sell-side component fell for the first time since April and by 18 points, reversing most of the increases of the past three months and implying to us that, at least temporarily, potential home sellers might wait to list their homes. If so, this could have the effect of perpetuating already-tight inventory levels and supporting additional (albeit lesser) home price growth, which could contribute to a further moderating of home sales.”

Read the full press release from Fannie Mae. 


Selling Your Home in the Age of Coronavirus? Here Are All Your Top Questions, Answered

With every day of this pandemic feeling like it brings a fresh batch of news, you’d be forgiven for feeling confused about the actual state of things now. While many cities start to reopen—and some continue to experience a high volume of new COVID-19 cases—it’s hard to know how any sector of the economy is doing, especially the real estate market.

Are things getting back to normal? Is now an OK (or even appropriate) time to consider selling a home? Whether you’re curious about the timing of a sale or the nitty-gritty details of how it will all go down, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve gathered advice from the real estate experts to answer your most pressing questions about selling a home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Can I sell my house during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Selling a house should always be based on a number of factors, particularly with regard to your family’s health and financial situation. But to cut to the chase: Yes, you can still sell a home during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly now that states are beginning to reopen.

In most markets, inventories are low and prices are high—which means you can still make a profitable sale.

“Now’s a great time to sell,” says Michelle Sloan, a broker and a Realtor® who’s with Re/Max Time Cincinnati. “With low inventory and high buyer interest, many homes are selling very quickly—within days or hours in some cases. Interest rates are also low, and there’s serious pent-up demand for homes, especially in lower price ranges.”

Is it safe to sell your home during such an outbreak?

Selling your home during a pandemic means extra precautions.
Selling your home during a pandemic means extra precautions.

Siriporn Carrelli/Getty Images

You might be asking yourself if it’s safe to go through the traditional home showing and selling process. Assuming your family members are all in good health, there are several precautions your real estate agent can take to safely show your home to interested buyers.

“We’re allowing showings, but with safety in mind,” Sloan says.

For her team, that means no overlapping showings, no children in the house, masks on, shoes off, and hand sanitizer at the door. She also recommends people leave all of their lights on and doors open (even for closets), since this translates into fewer surfaces being touched.

Are houses even selling now?

Yes! The fact is that people still need to move, pandemic or no pandemic. For instance, in Austin, TX, at least 400 homes “and counting” are closing every single week, reports Regine Nelson with Wealthward Realty.

“Austin is low on inventory; we still have more people moving here than we have housing available,” she says.

Other markets, like Tampa, FL, are seeing a similar trend in sales.

“Houses are definitely selling now,” says Nadia Anac, a Realtor with Reagan Realty. “In my market, I’ve even been in multiple-offer situations.”

The key to these kinds of numbers seems to be in the inventory: Markets with low inventory are seeing houses sold quickly. As always, we’d recommend chatting with a local real estate agent to get the pulse on exactly how your market is performing.

Should I sell my house during a recession?

Since this recession is largely dictated by the pandemic, it’s almost impossible to keep the two separate. But if you do decide to sell during this period of economic downturn, take the time to consider your own financial stability, as well as the conditions of the market you’re moving to.

“If you planned to sell your home due to relocation, a short sale, or moving for larger space, then I would recommend proceeding—but with caution,” says Nelson. “Do you have another home or area in mind? Always be sure to see if what you are seeking is available or will be available when you’re ready to find a property to purchase.”

And while the buyer pool has undoubtedly shrunk in the past few weeks, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Homes are still selling, but lending requirements have tightened, meaning buyers are more qualified and ready to move forward,” says Karen Parnes, owner of NextHome Your Way.

Will I have competition if I try to sell my house right now?

Even during a pandemic, you can expect some competition from other sellers.
Even during a pandemic, you can expect some competition from other sellers.

georgeclerk/Getty Images

“You’re likely to have much less competition as a seller right now,” Parnes says, since potential sellers are still wary about putting their homes on the market amid a pandemic. (These conditions are expected to change as summer ramps up; more on that later.)

But Nelson advises her clients to avoid getting caught up in the competition, and focus instead on the things they can control—like competitive pricing, getting their home in a good state, and having a solid marketing strategy.

Another point to remember? Competition happens on both sides of the street.

“Once you sell, you’re way more likely to have competition as a buyer,” says Parnes.

Should I expect to sell for less right now?

Not necessarily. Although the economy’s experiencing a recession, that doesn’t mean prices are going down.

“There are less buyers, but there are also a lot less homes on the market,” says Parnes. “The old rule of supply and demand still holds.”

While some predicted a price drop for 2020, experts now expect the summer home-buying market to be much hotter than expected, as many Americans feel more secure in their jobs and can physically step into the homes they are considering.

While you might not have to drop your price, Anac reminds her clients that they may need to be more patient in pursuing a good sale.

“If your house is priced correctly, and depending on your market, it may just take a little bit longer to sell,” she says.

How can I sell my house without allowing buyers to walk through?

If you're selling, now's the time to make the most of virtual tours.
If you’re selling, now’s the time to make the most of virtual tours.

dem10/Getty Images

It may be the safest option, but it’s not the easiest to pull off. Understandably, buyers want to see the home they’re buying in person. And no, telling them they can walk the property without entering won’t help matters much.

“It’s mostly impossible to sell your home with no showings or [prospective buyers] in the home at all,” says Parnes, although she admits “real estate transactions are still happening in states where showings are not allowed and being done completely virtually.”

If you have special health concerns or live with someone who’s considered high-risk, talk with your real estate agent about the possibility of virtual showings. Otherwise, consider just cleaning up thoroughly after would-be buyers leave.

Should I stage my house?

This room was virtually staged with furniture for adults.
This room was virtually staged with furniture for adults.

VHT Studios

“Staged homes always sell faster,” says Anac, “but especially in times like these.”

The real question isn’t whether you should stage your house, but how you should stage it. With more tours and showings happening online, you might consider having your home virtually staged rather than actually inviting people into your home to decorate it.

How can I prepare my home for a virtual tour?

A virtual tour can run the gamut from a live walk-through with an agent on FaceTime to a sophisticated 3D rendering from companies such as Matterport. But for the most part you want to prepare for a virtual tour the same way you would for a still-photo shoot—by decluttering it, upping the curb appeal, and making sure nothing is broken or an eyesore.

“Make sure everything is clean, all lights are turned on, fans are off, blinds are open, surfaces are cleared, and everything is put away,” advises Anac.

How can I close remotely?

States are handling remote closings a little differently, so the short answer is to ask your real estate agent. The long answer: The way settlements are being handled varies quite a bit.

“Some, but not all, states have remote settlements,” says Parnes. “Some have approved it temporarily, and those that don’t are typically splitting the buyers and sellers at settlement and having only the essential people involved at the table.”

Looking for more advice on selling your home in the age of COVID-19? We’ve got you covered.