real estate

Navigating the Mass. Real Estate Market During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Spring is normally the busy season for the real estate industry, and while interest rates are low, the shut down in Massachusetts and the tanking stock market are making many people nervous.

Sean and Hannah Lacey's Waltham home was supposed to hit the market Tuesday. 

"With all of what's going on right now, it didn't seem good to move forward," Sean Lacey said. "It didn't seem like a smart decision, I guess." 

"We would hate to buy a house, and get a mortgage, and owe all this money, and a month from now houses are worth half as much as they were when we bought it," Hannah Lacey added.

Anthony Lamacchia, of Lamacchia Realty, is hearing that concern a lot these days. 

"The fear is real, and I think it's understandable for people to have some worry," Lamacchia said. "But there is so much buyer demand out there, I don't see the risk of some kind of major crash. It's pretty clear we're headed for likely a recession, but a recession doesn't mean that real estate is going to totally collapse." 

He says the housing market was strong coming into the COVID-19 crisis and that the housing inventory in Massachusetts is low. But the statewide shutdown is a big bump in the road. Realtors have closed their offices and canceled open houses. 

On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order permitting the temporary conditional deferral of certain inspections of residential real estate to allow closings to continue.  

Lamacchia says the real estate industry is now asking him to temporarily allow virtual notarizations for real estate closings during the state of emergency. 

"For deals that are currently under contract, if a buyer suddenly gets worried about their job, they can get an extension, keep the deal together for a couple of weeks, see what happens with their job, and make a decision from there," Lamacchia said.

The Laceys are fortunate that they aren't in a situation where they have to sell their house right now. 

"We are in wait and see mode," Sean Lacey said. "Probably in a few weeks, hopefully, we can restart the process, but if things continue longer, we're just in a holding pattern."  

If you're planning to sell soon, you can take advantage of your time spent at home these days. Start cleaning and decluttering, and even packing up belongings that you aren't using.

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