The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected life across the globe. Strict social distancing measures, school closures, and, in many locales, a ban on all non-essential businesses have turned people’s lives upside down and thrust us into a surreal existence where we’re spending nearly all of our time at home.
From a real estate perspective, it would be disingenuous to say that nothing has changed. Great agents are honest at all times, even (especially) when it’s difficult.
That said, there’s no indication that we’re in (or headed toward) a housing crisis like the once-in-a-century 2008 collapse. And, by all accounts, the fundamentals of the housing market remain in place, despite the safety precautions enforced by health and government officials.
The following list may help you better understand what’s changed and what hasn’t in the world of real estate
What Has Changed:
1. Access to Showings
In many places, the process of showing a home has changed. Some states have put limits on the number of people allowed to gather in one place, which has impacted open houses. Additionally, sellers, buyers, and agents are taking more precautions to keep themselves safe, with more cleaning, access to protective gear, and enforced distancing measures becoming the norm. Digital-only showings are also growing in popularity, although they’re still relatively new. The good news is I work with mostly out of town buyers so I have plenty of experience showing property in creative ways….including FaceTime and video. It is pretty easy here since the majority of properties are vacant right now. So, if there’s a home you’re interested in seeing, it’s still possible to make it happen.
2. The Closing Process
Much of the work that needs to be done between going under contract to sell or buy a house and the closing can be done remotely and electronically. But there are many things that need to be done by many people throughout the process. From the mortgage, to the title work, to inspections and appraisals, getting to the closing table depends upon a lot of people doing their job. Social distancing and working entirely remotely has a certain learning curve while everyone involved figures out how to get their end of things done. So, the process may take at least a little longer, and change as everyone figures out the best way to handle things. The upshot to this is that it could create better, more efficient ways of doing things moving forward.
3. Some Mortgage Products
Perhaps the most impactful changes in the real estate industry are happening in the mortgage market. The conditions on certain products are being tightened, and some lenders are temporarily exiting the market altogether. Jumbo loans (a type of financing where the loan amount is higher than the conforming loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency) seem to be feeling the most impact, while conventional loans, which are considered less risky, have been less affected. If you have questions about getting pre-approved, you should contact a mortgage professional who can help you better understand your options. I like working with lenders who have experience in our market, so reach out if you would like me to put you in touch.
What Hasn’t Changed:
1. People’s Dreams
Even when the whole world comes to a stop, our hearts and minds do not. We all have dreams, whether it’s owning a ski in/ski out condo in Mammoth Lakes, a gorgeous custom home in Crowley Lake or a starter home in June Lake. A pandemic doesn’t change that, even though it can help put things in perspective and remind us of what matters most. But don’t let the strange times we’re in stop you from daydreaming and working toward those dreams. A pandemic is temporary; our hopes are not.
2. Housing Demand
There’s been a well-documented housing shortage for years, and there’s no indication that the fundamentals have yet changed. That said, every real estate market is unique, and what holds true on a macro-level may not hold true in your desired market. Regardless of the specific market and overall demand in that area, people always need homes, despite a pandemic. People still want vacation/second homes. So, if you want to sell, there’s likely a buyer for your home. And if you want to buy, there’s likely a seller who’d love to sell. The time it takes to find or sell the property just might take a little longer right now.
3. My Desire to Help
Most agents eat, breathe, and sleep real estate, and aside from looking out for our loved ones and wishing for a healthy and safe resolution to this mess, that hasn’t changed. I want to help you with your real estate needs because I am passionate about what I do, and it’s likely that our newfound home-time has coincided with a lot more real estate research than it has with cleaning or learning how to play the guitar.
If you’ve bought or sold property before, you may be wondering if you should handle your next purchase or sale on your own. While it can be tempting to do so, a good local real estate agent makes a world of difference. They can serve as your partner and confidant through what can sometimes be a convoluted process.
Here are 10 reasons why I believe hiring a local real estate agent is the best thing to do:
1. Real estate agents know the ins and outs of zoning in Mammoth Lakes.
Before you even start shopping for a Mammoth Lakes home, you’ll need to know what you can and can’t do with the property. If it’s a vacation home that you’d like to rent out, it needs to be in an area that’s zoned for nightly rentals. Your real estate agent can help you navigate the zoning regulations throughout town.
2. They’re professionally educated and trained to sell homes.
In California, real estate agents must complete 135 hours of Pre-Licensing education, find a licensed real estate broker to work under, and pass the CA Salesperson License Exam. Although realtors and real estate agents are both licensed to sell real estate, realtors are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and must subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. I am both a realtor and a broker. The real estate industry is complex, so having an educated guide through the process is incredibly helpful.
3. They’ve seen Mammoth Lakes properties in all four seasons.
You’ve probably experienced Mammoth Lakes during a crazy winter where homes get buried, but you might not have seen the properties you have your eyes on during a big winter. Certain condo complexes and neighborhoods do a better job with snow removal than others. Your real estate agent has probably been to most of the neighborhoods in Mammoth Lakes in the winter and should have a good sense of which properties handle big snow years the best.
4. They can advise on pricing and market conditions.
In a ski town like Mammoth Lakes, the community is much more than meets the eye. Mammoth Lakes real estate agents have their finger on the pulse of exactly what’s going on in town. They can advise on recent economic developments (like the 2017 sale of Mammoth Mountain or Yotelpad coming to Mammoth Lakes), ideal list prices, and how to market your property for the best results.
5. They can fill you in on the differences between HOAs in town.
Not all HOAs are created equally, and not all will give you the bang for your buck you might be hoping for. Some homeowners associations come with access to amenities like a hot tub, sauna or common area for hosting large groups. Most include snow removal and trash services, but some complexes manage this better than others. Your real estate agent can let you know which complexes will take the best care of you in your new home.
6. A good real estate agent will act as a buffer.
As a buyer or a seller, you might need some protection. A good real estate agent will keep all the unimportant chatter out of earshot. If you’re buying, they’ll work with the seller’s agent on your behalf. If you’re selling, they’ll weed out the people who aren’t serious buyers so your time doesn’t get wasted. They also filter out any unnecessary emotion in the transfer of a property.
7. They have strong negotiation skills.
Negotiation is an acquired skill. It’s addressed during a real estate agent’s initial training but it really gets honed over years of experience. Having been in real estate in Mammoth Lakes since 2011, I feel confident going into any property negotiation. I advocate for my clients’ needs and can usually reach a solution in which everyone wins.
8. Real estate agents handle all the paperwork.
If you’ve worked with a real estate agent on a purchase or sale, you probably remember the slew of emails or appointments asking you to sign yet another document. What you might not have noticed is the hours of work that your agent spent behind the scenes preparing and organizing those documents. When you’re buying your dream vacation home in Mammoth Lakes, you shouldn’t waste time bogged down in paperwork. Let a real estate agent handle it.
9. They know the right people to move the process along.
Mountain towns like Mammoth Lakes run on face-to-face communication. If you get connected with the right real estate agent in town, you’ll also get access to many other important people. A good real estate agent will have relationships with local lenders, inspectors, cleaning companies, vacation rental companies and more. Instead of wasting your time tracking down people who often operate on mountain time, your real estate agent can do the heavy lifting.
10. They know what it’s like to live in this unique town.
Local real estate agents love calling Mammoth Lakes home, but they also know that life in a mountain town at 8,000 feet comes with its own set of challenges. They can share with you what they love most about living here as well as the process they took to find their own Mammoth Lakes dream home. You’ll be working with someone who knows what you’re going through because they’ve been there. And who knows — you might even find a new lifelong friend in the process!
If you want to know more about buying a home in Mammoth Lakes, check out my Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide. Give me a call with any questions: (760) 914-4664.