Even though lower interest rates may spur renewed – or increased – interest in buying a home, it’s dovetailing with increasing demands for people to stay home and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
MetroTex Association of Realtors announced Friday that it has canceled all upcoming continuing education courses and other events until April 30.
“This includes in-person new-member orientation, continuing education classes, designation courses and area MLS meetings,” the organization said. “This also includes offsite events such as area workshops and TREPAC events.”
The association also encouraged real estate agents to consider social distancing protocols as well.
A survey of 2,500 real estate professionals conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that about a quarter reported sellers taking additional precautions that included stopping open houses, requiring buyers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, and asking buyers to take off their shoes and wear booties.
“The coronavirus is having a mixed impact on the housing market. It’s decreasing buyer traffic somewhat — although in still relatively low numbers — but it’s also not deterring some home buyers and sellers from taking advantage of the lowest mortgage rates in history,” said the NAR.
Sixteen percent of those surveyed said they’ve seen a reduction in buyer interest since coronavirus reached the U.S.
“Given that a home transaction is a major commitment, the uncertainties on how the economy will play out and the spread of the virus itself are barriers to home buying and selling,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said. “The stock market crash is no doubt raising economic anxieties, while the coronavirus brings fear of contact with strangers.
“At the same time, the dramatic fall in interest rates may induce some potential buyers to take advantage of the better affordability conditions. It is too early to assess the likely impact as to whether lower interest rates can overcome the economic and health anxieties.”
Yun said he predicts that short-term, home sales may be down as much as 10 percent.