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Low interest rates from COVID-19 present a real estate opportunity

Amy Scott Feb 28, 2020
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Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Low interest rates from COVID-19 present a real estate opportunity

Amy Scott Feb 28, 2020
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

One effect of low bond yields is ultra-cheap mortgages. The average interest on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, according to Freddie Mac, is now just 3.45%. It’s a three-year low that many expect to get even lower. You’d think that would be great for the real estate market. But all that uncertainty driving rates lower is on the minds of home buyers and business owners, too.

Just this morning, real estate agent Joanne McCoy in Lincoln, Nebraska, got a text message from a client who had been looking to lease some space for a nail salon.

“He’s going to put that on hold for a while because of the coronavirus,” McCoy said.

He didn’t say exactly why, but McCoy said there’s a lot of unease about COVID-19. Anyone who lost money in the stock market this week may have second thoughts about real estate.

“They may be determining if this is the time to sit on the sidelines a little bit to see what happens with those investments,” she said.

Nitya Niranjan, a broker with Century 21 in Seattle, expects the market there to slow as Chinese — and American — buyers pull back.

“People don’t make decisions when something like that happens,” Niranjan said. “‘Should I buy a house? No, maybe I should wait six months. Should I sell it? Maybe I should.’ Uncertainty creates problems in the economy.”

It also creates opportunity — a chance for people who already have mortgages to get a better deal. According to data firm Black Knight, some 11 million homeowners could save money by refinancing.

Broker Greg Goodrich outside Boise, Idaho, has seen business pick up, but not from home buyers.

“The originations aren’t really up,” Goodrich said. “They’re staying consistent, but they’re not on fire like the refinances are.”

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