Home buying during the coronavirus pandemic

Home buying during the coronavirus pandemic
A sign reading "Price Reduced" hangs below a for sale sign in front of a house in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

For many people, the biggest purchase of their life is buying a house, but imagine not being able to physically see inside before reaching a deal.

Greg Karlowsky and his fiancee, Sammi Berman, of Finleyville, Pennsylvania, said they’ve been searching for their forever home for about year. The search has been tough in the last few months.

Content Continues Below

“The houses have gone to the market and they’ve sold immediately,” Karlowsky told WPXI. “With the pandemic, we kind of felt a little defeated.”

As stay-at-home orders have been issued throughout the country, real estate agents haven’t been able to physically show homes. Some plans for housing inspections have also been paused. Many pending sales have moved at a slower rate.

Like many things, the real estate market has gone virtual. As buyers still wanted to look, companies such as Berkshire Hathaway have offered virtual open houses using video platforms like Zoom. Sellers might be on mute showing the house while agents describe the home.

“I’m now doing videos on every listing. It helps a buyer potentially narrow down as a property before they decide to walk through it,” Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realtor Jane Herrmann told WPXI.

Berman said it was like watching HGTV but more interactive. "As soon as they open the door I'm like, 'What's not shown? So what's to the right of that turn?'"

The couple said they found their forever home with their two must-haves: a fenced-in yard and finished basement. Contracts were signed, and now they wait for a home inspection, which can happen in the yellow phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening.

But even when the area reopens, Herrmann said there will be rules they have to follow to tour homes and open houses may stay virtual.

“I assume we will have masks, gloves, booties initially for quite some time,” Herrmann told WPXI. “That’s one of the largest purchases that somebody makes in their lifetime, and they’ve got to feel comfortable with it, you know, with obviously what they’re buying.”

Bonneau Ansley, founder of Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, said interest rates are historically low.

Ansley told WSB-TV that people should only act within their safety comfort zones, and once the all clear is given, he expects a significant increase in real estate activity.

“I anticipate pent-up demand. The fundamentals are attractive and inventories are very slow,” Ansley told WSB-TV, referencing his recent experience with the Atlanta market.

Ansley said he expects the housing market to heat up as the economy recovers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, but when that will happen is up in the air.

Karlowsky, speaking about his new Pennsylvania home, said he and his wife are happy to have found the house of their dreams.

“We’re not going to miss out on the opportunity," Karlowsky told WPXI.