5 On Your Side

Low interest rates, less competition can be to advantage of home buyers

Posted July 20, 2020 3:58 p.m. EDT
Updated July 20, 2020 6:00 p.m. EDT

— Some experts say that with a little creativity and flexibility, a pandemic home purchase can work. There are reasons to buy, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

"If you're secure in your job and you've got some savings, it's actually not a bad time to buy," said Paul Hope with Consumer Reports. "There are going to be opportunities that probably didn't exist even just a few months ago."

Home for sale: Coming soon

The first: low interest rates.

An average 30-year fixed mortgage is just under 3.5%, the lowest on record since 1971. An individual's credit score dictates whether they qualify for the best possible rate.

Another benefit to buying now is less competition.

Mortgage applications have dropped by 35% since the first week of March.

And realtors offer new ways to browse with social distancing.

"The irony is that the real estate market has been actually moving toward a sort of remote or digital experience for years," says Hope. "So skilled realtors can do things like go tour a house for you with their phone so you can really get a sense for the house before you even have to go inside."

It's still a good idea to see a home in person before buying though, to make sure it's the right fit.

Consumer Reports says flexibility with a seller can help land a better deal.

For example, a buyer can offer to accept a later closing date, wait to have a home inspection until the seller is comfortable having people in their house, or maybe let them rent back the house until the quarantine ends.

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