WAYNE, NJ – The real estate market is still moving forward, though social distancing guidelines and restrictions on businesses have caused this market to change rapidly.  Three real estate experts: one realtor, one real estate attorney and one mortgage provider weigh in on the market and provide advice for potential buyers and sellers.

There are many positive things you can do right now to make your real estate dreams come true," said Annmarie DeGeorge, a Broker Sales Manager from Realty Executives Wayne. “Unless you absolutely must buy or sell at this time, I tell my clients to start preparing yourself now for the future. Get yourself ready so when it is safer to go through the buying or selling process, you will be ready to buy or sell immediately.”

DeGeorge believes that once the social distancing restrictions are lifted, the Wayne market will boom. "The real estate market was booming in the beginning of 2020. There will be so many people ready to buy and sell, that it will come back even stronger than it was before,” she said. “Those who are prepared will benefit the most.”

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The real estate expert remembers what happened to the Wayne market after 9/ll. “There were many people who moved out of the city, and I think we’re going to experience that again when this is over,” DeGeorge said. “New York City was severely affected by this virus because they are so densely populated.  There will be many people who will want to live in the suburbs where social distancing is naturally easier. Wayne will be a great option."

Real estate attorney Olivia Michalski-Ottens agrees with DeGeorge and added: “Another piece to this is that a lot of us have now learned to work from home and many people will still be able to work for a Manhattan-based company without having to live in Manhattan.” 

“Right now, there are a lot of question marks in real estate transactions that haven’t been there before,” said Ottens. “I’ve come across some contracts that have a COVID-19 addendum written in to protect clients, title companies or lenders.  However, the curve of the virus seems to be flattening, and the hope is that things will open up again sooner rather than later.  When that happens, I believe we are poised for a jump in the market.”

What could throw a curve ball into this is the uncertainty of the economy.  According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, 576,904 New Jerseyans applied for unemployment in the three weeks starting March 15.

“The economy is a big variable in all of this,” said Jon McKelvey a sales manager at FinanceMyHome.com, which is the online division of Mortgage Lender Homebridge Financial Services. “The economy has already changed so fast that nobody really knows how things are going to turn out.”

“The Fed has done a great job in keeping interest rates low,” he added. “I believe there will be a big inventory of real estate, and these near-historic low rates will provide an incentive to buy. But, will enough people be employed, and be able to prove they can repay these loans?  How much will individual credit scores be affected, and will lenders raise credit score guidelines?”

All three real estate experts agree that being prepared can be an advantage.  Here is their advice:

For Sellers

  • Declutter your home. This opens up the house to make it look larger, removes distractions from the house itself and makes the house look cleaner and more desirable.
  • Finish those home improvement projects. The less a potential buyer thinks they have to repair, the less they will need to come down on the price of the house.
  • Contact a reputable real estate agent who knows your neighborhood for a comparable market analysis and discuss a realistic price for your home.

For Buyers

  • Get Pre-approved for a mortgage.
  • Clean up your credit. Reach out to a credit repair company.
  • Stay in contact with your lender. The economy is changing rapidly and so are lending guidelines
  • Don’t rely on virtual tours or viewing a home through a Zoom portal, if at all possible. This is one of the largest purchasing decisions in your life, you should be there.

For Both

  • Search the internet to keep up with the changing real estate market
  • Interview realtors, attorneys and mortgage providers to make sure you find one who is on your side and you are comfortable working with.

We all must be patient as we wait to see when this pandemic ends, how it ends and what the aftermath will be. There are many professionals in almost every aspect of life who can help you make better decisions. Seek them out.