As the weather begins to warm up, so does the New York City housing market. After all, most people want to be settled in their new home before fall, which means they need to start searching for a home before summer. But as you probably figured, things are a bit different this year, thanks to COVID-19.
Technically, real estate is still open for business since the governor marked it as an essential industry. However, social distancing may make it harder to buy a home this spring. If you're looking for a new place to live in NYC, here's what you should know before you start the home buying process.
Your Housing Options May Be Limited
Normally, spring is a popular time of year to list a home for sale. But this year, it's clearly not, as inventory is looking pretty sparse. While there are still people who want to sell their home, most sellers in NYC have been advised to hold off until things get back to normal. Though no one knows exactly when that will be, we all know it's not right now.
In fact, research shows that during the second week of April 2019, 476 houses came on the market. Compare that to this April, when there are only 52 listings during the same time period. That's an 89% decline in listings! So if you're picky about the house you plan to buy, you probably won't find it in NYC this spring. On the other hand, if you're pretty openminded about what you want to buy, or you're just looking for a home you can upgrade yourself, you may be able to find what you need despite the low inventory.
Prices Won't Necessarily Be Lower
Some homebuyers are only looking to buy right now because they assume prices will be lower than usual. But the truth is that it's too soon to tell how the pandemic has affected home prices. So far, NYC real estate experts haven't noticed a decline in most home prices, but that might change in a month or two. It all depends on how long it takes for the country to start to return to normal.
One trend some experts claim is already noticeable is that higher-end real estate has become more affordable as fewer people have the money to buy. So if you're looking to save some money on a luxury NYC home, you might want to consider buying soon. But if you want a starter home, you likely won't get a better deal now than you usually would, as experts predict most homes will be priced the same as usual.
Home Tours & Meetings Will Be Virtual
If you decide to push through this pandemic to find a home you love, note that the process will be a bit different than you're used to, as real estate agents can't perform in-person house walk-throughs anymore. Instead, all home tours are now virtual, so expect to use tools like Zoom and FaceTime to see the interior of homes. Also, some real estate agents now upload house tours to YouTube instead of hosting regular open houses.
If you're able to find an NYC house you want to buy, expect the closing process to be just as virtual as the home tours. You'll likely use Zoom and Skype to virtually meet with your agent, broker, and anyone else you need to talk to as you buy a home in NYC. And the closing walk-through of the house will likely also be on video. Note that you can still get an inspection and appraisal of the house, but you can't be there with the inspector or appraiser, so he or she will have to be the only person in the house.
As you can see, buying a home in NYC right now is more difficult and time-consuming than usual. But it is still possible. If you need to buy now and have questions or concerns to address before beginning the buying process, contact a New York real estate attorney today.