COVID-19 is a world-wide pandemic that has reached to many parts of the world. What will it mean for the Baltimore Real Estate market?
Well, frankly, we do not know.
The good news is that the Fed has cut interest rates to the banks to .25% (just barely over zero.) This does NOT mean that interest rates for loans are that low. Lenders I am hearing from are stating that current (3/18/2020) rates are around 3% for many home loans. That could change quickly, so note that is only for today, 3/18/2020. That being said, with schools and businesses being closed or skeleton crews working, do homebuyers (or homeowners trying to refinance) have the steady income to qualify for those loans? How long will we be in our homes and not out at work? How will that affect income-to-debt ratios? Contact your loan professional to find out about their situation (and yours!) and how they may be able to handle your loan.
What about sellers afraid of people coming into their homes? Sellers have to determine their level of comfort with the situation. Should they remove their homes from the market until they are comfortable with the level of spread? Should they require gloves or masks be worn when their homes are being shown? Each seller has to determine their level of comfort – unless either local, state, or national government specifically requires people to shelter in their homes, which may make the decision for those sellers.
Homebuyers concerned about their ability to buy should speak with their mortgage lenders about their qualifications and any potential modifications their companies may be making to help. Homebuyers should also be aware that lenders may potentially have less people working on the back end of their loans, or may need everything sent digitally to continue working on their loans.
In Maryland, currently the courts are closed except for emergency situations. This could potentially mean delays of title work processing if there is something in the history of the title of the house that may be a cause for concern. I am hearing from some Maryland title companies that a number of title insurers are currently (as of 3/18/2020) proceeding with home settlements/closings, but depending on the situation, there may be a form that all parties sign stating that the title work could not be fully completed, and that there may be a waiver for items that could potentially not be found without going to the courthouse for a full search. Each Maryland County is different in terms of how deeds, etc are recorded, so it is possible the deed on a closed property may not be recorded for some time if the county does not have digital recording at this time. Again, a waiver may be presented to cover the title company in this situation. Contact your title company to find out what is happening with their files at this time. Each title company may potentially have a different policy or form(s).
Please know that COVID-19 and the real estate market in general are both fluid situations, and what may be in place at the time of this post (March 18, 2020) may change and may change quickly.
Contact your Baltimore real estate professional, your lender, your title company, or an attorney for more information specific to your home buying or selling situation.
Please understand that I am not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice. Nothing in this post is intended as legal advice nor should it be taken as legal advice. If you have legal questions, please contact an attorney. I am just sharing information that has been shared by other professionals, but I have no actual legal knowledge or legal advice to give on your real estate transaction.