COVID-19’S Impact on Central PA Real Estate

Keeping It Real About Coronavirus and Its Impact on Central PA’s Real Estate Market

On our latest Keeping it Real With Erica Rawls Team Facebook Live episode, the Erica Rawls Team discussed how we’re practicing social distancing while sharing our predictions about how we think the Coronavirus will impact the Central PA real estate market over the next few months.

We don’t know what the future holds, but at some point we’re going to get back to business, so we want to ensure you’re aware of the changing dynamics of the real estate market at this time.

Micheal Pion, owner of Next Home Capital Realty, joined myself and Sheena Lansannah, to explain what we have been doing to make this new reality a smooth transition for our company, clients and overall Central PA community.

How is the Erica Rawls Team Dealing With Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 reached Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf has implemented a “Stay at Home” mandate and ordered all non-life sustaining businesses to close, which includes real estate companies and services.

We have been following Gov. Wolf’s mandate to practice social distancing and maintain at least six (6) feet away from others, but this, of course, has directly impacted our business operations and ability to interact with clients.

Under Gov. Wolf’s mandate, anyone with a real estate license is not allowed to meet face-to-face with any person. We are unable to meet one-on-one with clients, show houses, attend settlements, or have our physical office open for business.

“We are shut down. We cannot do anything with regards to showing housing — anything real estate services. We’re following those rules, we’re doing what the governor has asked us to do because the health of our community is more important than selling a house. That comes first in anything,” Michael said — and Sheena and I agree.

Our team, which operates independently under our parent company Next Home Capital Realty, follows guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR) — and the latter is following Gov. Wolf’s mandate.

An Unconventional Way of Doing Business—Virtual Consultations

“One of the things I love about the company [Next Home] is when you walk through the doors in Camp Hill everything is open, everybody’s talking and everybody’s saying, you know, ‘Hey what’s going on there?’ and ‘How can I help?’ At the end of the day, I miss that,” Michael said.

As realtors, we respect the safety and concerns of the people we work with and our families.

We are currently servicing our clients in unconventional ways by holding meetings via Zoom, an online video conferencing software, and coordinating virtual home tours with potential buyers and sellers.

We are also speaking with individuals virtually to answer any questions or concerns they have — whether or not they’re currently in the process of buying or selling a home.

This, unfortunately, is our new normal as federal social distancing guidelines have been extended until April 30, and we don’t truly know how long those guidelines will be in place.

We know you have questions and we understand how important it is to connect with our clients and share what we have going on in our lives.

Right now, all of our experiences are a little different, but we’re all going through this together.

Because of this, we believe it’s important to provide guidance on the information we’re seeing about the real estate market to best help our clients who may be feeling unsure in these unprecedented times.

How Will Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact Buying or Selling a Home in Central PA?

As the day-to-day situation around the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, one thing we noticed is an increasing number of concerns from clients who are selling a home or who have a home that is under contract to close within the next 30 days.

We’re not economic experts, and while we believe we are going to feel an impact, we don’t expect it to be as bad as the 2007-08 housing crisis given the differences in circumstances.

The housing market supply in Central PA won’t change dramatically while we’re taking this pause and staying quarantined at home because we’re all in the same boat operating under the same conditions.

When our day-to-day lives return to normal, the housing market will need to give it a few months until it falls back into a sense of normalcy. However, if we had to take an educated guess, we believe, and hope, the market is going to remain solid once this is over.

Unlike the recession of 2007-08 where the real estate market was a cause of what was happening, the real estate market is currently caught in the crossfire of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We’re only on hold because we are unable to practice not due to an issue within the industry.

“It kinda just came in like a tsunami and hit us and no one was prepared for what it was going to be like,” Sheena said describing our current reality.

What Should Potential Buyers and Sellers Do Right Now Amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?

We’ve spoken to a few clients and heard their concerns about the ongoing pandemic. Some questions we’ve received are:

  • “Should I pull out of my contract?”
  • “Is the value of the house I’m purchasing going to change?”
  • “Will it become a buyer’s market again?”
  • “Will I be able to close on time?”
  • “What happens if the seller doesn’t find suitable housing?”
  • “I have to move to start my new job; can I buy a house sight unseen?”

We don’t have a crystal ball, but if we could tell the future we expect we’re going to have some growing pains.

If you have a job that’s not going to be affected by this, such as a government, teacher, or medical position or one that is deemed an “essential service,” you will most likely be fine.

We’ll have to bridge the gap for the economy and all the people that are out of work and small businesses, who will be affected the most — and that includes small real estate companies like ours.

If and when things get back to normal, the housing market will too. Right now, we don’t see a lot of people rushing to sell their homes amidst the outbreak. We may see demand go down some given the sudden changes in finances for some families due to COVID-19 related layoffs.

If demand goes down, it will benefit those looking to buy a home because they will have less competition for offers.

Are There Any Potential Benefits to the Housing Market?

With essential workers such as government and healthcare/medical employees, we may find that people might need to relocate for a new job.

This can be tricky if someone needs to move to Pennsylvania, or to another state, depending on the restrictions in place to slow the spread of the outbreak.

Another potential benefit is the sheer time spent indoors because of the social distancing guidelines.

People who live near a city like New York, which has been heavily impacted, may consider relocating after the outbreak subdues to get away in case a similar event should occur again.

For those who are quarantined in a house – with or without children or other housemates – they may find their space is too small after spending three to four weeks, or more, in their home.

Some people may even desire to search for a house with more rooms or a backyard so they have more freedom if they’re stuck in this situation again.

If you’re going to be quarantined or stuck somewhere, you want it to be a place that’s comfortable and you enjoy.

What Should I Do If I Rent, Own a Home or Am Selling My Home?

If you can afford to pay your mortgage, we recommend paying it or putting down whatever you can.

We don’t want to lead people by fear because we know each person’s circumstances are different. We all face different factors, and have varying employment statuses.

If you’re unsure based on the information you see going around in new headlines and social media, we recommend going to reliable sources like the CDC and

The federal government has announced a mortgage relief program for anyone that is having financial difficulties with their mortgage within their stimulus package.

For FHA, HUD or any other government related properties , we strongly recommend calling your lender or customer service representative to see which programs they have that can help you.

If you have a conventional loan, you should go to your lender, regardless whether or not you lost your job. You don’t know what is going to happen, and you may be able to pause for 60-90 days, or make interest-only payments on your mortgage.

Before you can’t pay your rent or mortgage, call somebody. Don’t feel bad because we’re all being affected.

For instance, if you just signed on a 30-year loan on a new home last month, some lenders may approve of putting the amount you owe/can’t afford to pay right now on the backend of the loan.

If you’re renting, you also should speak up if you can’t afford to pay your rent.

Landlords cannot evict you during a pandemic.

On the other side of the equation, a landlord’s property may be his or her only source of income, and there is also rent due for that property.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say there’s a landlord who owns four (4) units and three (3) of his tenants tell him they can’t afford their rent payment.

If we were the landlord, we would call our bank to explain that our tenants can’t pay us, so we can’t pay them.

“Banks aren’t in the business to own properties,” Michael said, which means they may be more willing to work with you toward a solution. We have seen some emails from banks that have said they want to work with people, he explained.

What Should I Do If I Have Questions? Contact the Erica Rawls Team!

Here at the Erica Rawls Team, we want you to contact us with your questions. Our number one goal is to provide you guidance during this time – regardless if your currently looking to buy or sell your home.

If you need help in any way, we are here. We’re all in this together.

We’re all feeling the effects of it — whether you’re employed or unemployed. We’re all feeling the effects of it. We’re really sensitive to that.

If we don’t have the answers for you directly, we have enough resources and people who can get you the right information.

Contact us today so we can help or to schedule your virtual consultation!

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