Spring is usually the busiest time of year for real estate. It’s when house hunters and home sellers come out of hibernation mode and descend on the market in droves. But this year—in the era of COVID-19—is different.
The coronavirus outbreak has rocked the economy and upended many industries, including real estate. As Americans across the country are sheltering at home, many home buyers are left wondering: Should I buy a home now, or wait until quarantine measures loosen and the economy picks up again? The same goes for sellers wondering when they should list their home.
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Kaushik Mukerjee and Preeti Vasishtha faced stiff competition when they set out to buy a home last spring. The couple, who live in Northern Virginia and have an 8-year-old son, were looking for a home in a good school district, but they lost out to other bidders on two houses before their offer on a townhouse stuck. “In one case we competed against 10 other offers, and the home sold for $20,000 above list price,” Mukerjee says. Ultimately, the couple paid $502,000—slightly above list price—for a 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom townhouse in Burke, Va.
Kody Henderson, a 26-year-old first-time home buyer, also grappled with a hyperactive market when he looked for a home in the Seattle area. He struck out on three before he snagged a three-bedroom single-family house for $465,000 in Burien, Wash., last November. “I kept getting beat by cash offers that were usually above list price,” says Henderson. “It was frustrating.”