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

Whether you are new to homeownership or have been a homeowner for years, this is an unprecedented time. The National Association of Realtors offers the following important tips on buying and selling a home during the pandemic.

When buying a house, here’s what you need to know.

Home tours will look a little different — Where in-person showings are still offered, potential buyers can expect quicker tours and may be asked to take extra precautions, such as removing shoes, using hand sanitizer, and refraining from touching items in the home.

Many sellers have offered virtual tours of their homes through pre-recorded videos or live video streams. In fact, according to a recent NAR survey on the pandemic’s impact on real estate, three in five Realtors said they are guiding buyers through virtual home tours.

Interest rates are low — While new social distancing measures change how buyers view potential homes, interest rates are near all-time lows and home prices are holding steady.

As more people file for unemployment, however, mortgage lenders may tighten lending standards, subsequently driving up rates — or delayed demand could push rates down further. Potential buyers can prepare for homeownership by understanding their budget, building a good credit history, and getting prequalified for a mortgage. Some lenders even allow borrowers to lock in interest rates for limited time periods.

Don’t expect a discount — Nationally, home prices are holding steady, with the majority the same or higher from one year ago. In fact, the median existing-home price for all housing types was $310,600 in August 2020, up 11.4 percent from August 2019, and marked 102 straight months of year-over-year price gains as the number of homes sold hit the highest level since December 2006.

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.

When selling a home, here’s what you need to know.

Showing and marketing homes during a time of social distancing may seem difficult, but a new wave of tech tools is helping streamline the remote transaction process, as buyers continue home searches online.

Use tech tools to help market and show your home — While in-person showings may be inadvisable, and even prohibited, many digital tools are available to help you continue marketing and showing your 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 your property. If sellers receive an offer on their home, their Realtor has the ability to present it to them virtually as well.

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 that they are responsible for personal verification, walkthroughs, and professional inspections to confirm that the property meets their needs.

Buyers are still searching — Just because they’re not touring homes in-person doesn’t mean buyers aren’t continuing their search. As a result, nearly three in four Realtors say sellers have not lowered prices to attract buyers during the pandemic. As potential buyers increasingly browse homes online, having attractive and accurate photos and videos is even more important. Sellers may want to consider using this extra time at home to make updates around their home and take fresh pictures of those improvements.

As public health concerns continues to evolve, the Santa Fe Association of Realtors encourages buyers and sellers to follow guidelines from the CDC as well as the state of New Mexico to protect their health and safety during the pandemic.

Rubel “Paco” Arguello, chief executive of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.

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