Lauren Bunting

(March 20, 2020) Every aspect of American life is being affected by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and that includes the real estate market.

Besides closures and social distancing to slow the spread, buyers and sellers who are currently involved in active contracts might be affected by government office closures since all real estate transactions must be recorded as public record within the county they are located.

Sellers are taking extra precautions and some are cancelling open houses.

If they are continuing with open houses, agents and sellers are offering wipes and hand sanitizer instead of refreshments.

There’s been a fall in interest rates due to the Fed cutting interest rates, which has helped offset the fears of the stock market decline.

But, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “While the Fed’s drastic rate cut to zero is ‘the right policy’ there’s new evidence it may not help prevent a housing slowdown—just as the spring selling season approaches.”

NAR also cautioned Realtors to be mindful of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and be sure not to discriminate against any particular segment of the population.

While the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, that does not provide a basis for treating Chinese persons or persons of Asian descent differently.

They also confirmed that you may ask clients about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. But, to avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to ask all clients the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities.

– Lauren Bunting is a licensed Associate Broker with Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty in Ocean City.

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