Thursday, 16 April 2020 12:15

Real Estate During COVID-19

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Showing and preparing homes for the housing market are two of the main challenges Roohan Realty has faced since COVID-19 struck the community. 

Currently, real estate is listed as essential in New York, with specific precautions put in place. Residential and commercial showings can be done virtually and social-distancing protocols are being followed for any home inspection of appraisal. 

Owner of Roohan Realty, Tom Roohan, defined Saratoga’s housing market as unique, stating virtual video tours doesn’t always work for the company. Roohan said no property in Saratoga is the same, and can vary from a stick-built bungalow to dental offices and multi-family homes. 

“[COVID-19] has created new challenges because this is what I call a contact sport,” Roohan said.

Typically when a client is looking for a home, they want to visit the home to walk around the rooms, and see if the furniture they have will fit. To follow proper social-distancing protocols, Roohan said no realtor would be present during a home showing. 

“We have some houses that are vacant. Under the right conditions and with everyone being smart, people are able to get into those houses and see them,” Roohan said. 

Since the home is vacant, and has been typically vacant for a while, the realtor will arrive first to open the home and turn on any lights, while wearing gloves and a mask. The prospective buyer can then enter the house and not have to touch anything because the realtor opened everything up. The same approach is being taken with any home inspection of appraisal. 

“You’re practicing safe social distancing. You have a mask on, you have gloves on, so there is no contact even close,” Roohan said. “Of course there has been less activity because there are so many houses that we can’t go into.”

Those homes Roohan is referring to are occupied homes. If two people are living in the home, they might be uncomfortable with others coming in there to view it. Typically, homes have been unoccupied for a period of time before a prospective buyer comes in. 

Although Roohan Realty has been operating with less activity, Roohan believes there is going to be an amount of pent up demand after everything opens again.

“There are people that want to put their homes on the market, but it’s a more challenging time and it depends on access to the house,” Roohan said. “Things are still happening. They’re not as robust as we’re used to for April in Saratoga Springs, but we’re doing the best we can.”

According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. mortgage rates hit an all-time low in early March, dropping to a 3.29 percent. One year ago, mortgage rates averaged in the mid-4 percent range.

Roohan mention they recently sold an office building, two family home and a single family home that were all vacant. He added that he, along with any realtor, is accessible by phone or email. 

To help with the possible demand after COVID-19 is over, Roohan said preparing your home for sale is the best thing homeowners can do. He mentioned one realtor, who hopes to list a house on May 1, said the homeowner is currently de-cluttering and painting the home. 

“They’re busy doing the type of things we typically ask people to do to prepare their house for sale, so that the house might look the best. Each situation is unique. Safety and flattening the curve are the two most important things that everyone is concerned about,” Roohan said. “It’s a trying time but everyone will get through it. We’ll come out smarter on the other end.”

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