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Buying or Selling Homes in a Pandemic

New Phase for Real Estate

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Despite the battered pandemic economy and Buffalo's staggering 19.2 percent unemployment rate, some real estate professionals feel the Western New York housing market can still rebound. It was surging before the COVID crunch in March and April dropped business by as much as 50 percent.  So why are they so optimistic?

Peter Hunt is the CEO of Hunt Real Estate who points out "Values are remarkably strong and we believe now if you're thinking about selling, you've got a better chance of getting a higher price for your home than you may have ever have had in history." And Hunt real estate agent Bonnie Clement adds "Our prices are unbelievable and they are going up. We have multiple, multiple, multiple offers."

Lower mortgage rates are helping as well as increasing acceptance of the concept of virtual house tours on the web or via Facetime by an agent. Hunt says "I would say roughly half the people based on our numbers have been very willing to participate in a virtual transaction. About half have said very simply well we can wait a little bit till things start to normalize somewhat."

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And Hunt feels that is why some agents are anxious to get back to some limited in - person interaction. "We're built to be advisers, negotiators, consultants, confidants in a transaction. That is difficult to do virtually."

The state did issue new guidelines for home showing in appointments. For example: face masks, gloves and shoe coverings, social distancing, homes must be vacant or without the presence of the owner, limits on the number of people in the home - usually just two without a whole family, and pre-screening or notice of a positive COVID status for the seller. Showings should also be staggered to limit those in the home. As such it is not expected there will be many open house showings right away.

Clement says "Whenever there are changes to be made - none of us like changes. But guess what? We all get use to it. So this is our market time right now and people are out there because the interest rates are so low."

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