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The Ocala Real Estate Market

Is this a good time to sell or buy?

We are living with an economic phase not seen in our lifetimes. Clearly, the Ocala real estate market is feeling the impact. Millions of people are out of work, while the world is grappling with a disease unlike any we have seen before. The COVID-19 infection attacks the body in ways that are not yet clearly understood. Every day scientists discover new ways in which this potentially lethal infection puts our lives at risk.

Positive Signs:

However, there are positive signs as well. In New York, fewer people suffer infections, require hospital admissions, or succumb to the disease. Further, Georgia businesses are cautious about restarting too quickly despite the Governor’s attempt to accelerate the opening of the state’s economy. Also, while Florida’s Governor has taken small steps to open the economy, he is not inclined push forward too quickly. Yesterday, Governor DeSantis stated that he will move forward slowly and cautiously, while letting conditions on the ground and science be his guide.

Simultaneously, our Congress continues to provide unprecedented levels of stimulus to our economy. Last week, phase four of these efforts provided nearly half a billion dollars more to support small businesses, hospitals and first responders. It also provided for the reversal of an unintended consequence of phase three by requiring publicly traded companies, funded to the tune of $600 million from resources intended to support small businesses, to return these funds.

Scientific Efforts Continue:

Importantly, scientists throughout the world continue efforts to find a vaccine which will protect us from the Novel Coronavirus. Additionally, they are developing treatments which will minimize the damage it can do to our bodies. However, the need to act sensibly, continue to socially distance, shelter in place, and take other prudent steps to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors will be with us until vaccines and treatments become universally available.

What impact has this new reality had on the real estate market? Is this a good time to list a home for sale? Should you buy a home now, or defer until you more clearly understand the direction of this disease and its impact on our economy? While there are no absolute answers to these questions, here are some thoughts for you to consider.

Selling or Buying – the Ocala Real Estate Market:

Many Ocala sellers are choosing to defer selling, while adjusting to the new realities we all face. As a result fewer houses are offered for sale. Similarly, many buyers are choosing safety over the desire for a change in lifestyle. Therefore, the reduced supply which would usually signal a seller’s market is counteracted by a reduced demand. Today we are operating in a market governed by the pandemic.

Safety Comes First:

If you are motivated to sell, I expect that safety is foremost on your mind. Your thoughts may drift as you contemplate your own safety, the safety of your family, and the impact of listing your home on your community. But consider that the way the Ocala real estate market functions is evolving in response to the new reality. Today many Realtors have replaced open houses and initial home visits with virtual tours. They arrange second visits to homes differently as well.

Clients and realtors arrive in separate cars. If the home is occupied, Realtors encourage owners not to be home during an appointment. The Realtor than obtains a key from a lockbox and unlocks the front door. If the home is vacant, the Realtor returns to his or her car. If not, the Realtor waits near the door. Only then do the clients leave their car and tour the home wearing masks and gloves. Everyone must strictly adhere to social distancing throughout the visit. If buyers require additional visits, Realtors handle them electronically whenever possible.

Buyers, sellers and Realtors then maintain all future contacts by phone, chat or teleconference. However, professionals who perform inspections, appraisals and surveys still require access to the property. Therefore, the parties to the transaction and their Realtors provide the needed access while taking all precautions recommended by the CDC, including following social distancing procedures.

Other Important Considerations:

Given today’s environment, it is much more difficult to schedule appointments for inspections, appraisals and other required procedures. Furthermore, banks are looking much more carefully at buyer qualifications. Therefore obtaining final mortgage approval is becoming more difficult. So expect delays and requests to reset the closing date.

If you have decided to sell or buy, I am sure you are cognizant that we are living in unusual times. However, you are motivated. Therefore, begin by selecting an experienced, professional Realtor you trust. To succeed, you and your Realtor must work together like a finely tuned machine. Learn how he or she will represent you. But also ask questions to ensure that your Realtor carefully follows safety recommendation. Finally, take solace in the fact that the way we do business is evolving in response to the pandemic. As professionals, we are doing everything in our power to put safety first, while ensuring that you receive the high standard of representation you deserve.

The Ocala real estate market will be under pressure. But there will be opportunity for those who are vigilant.
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Stay safe and positive. This too shall pass. – Andy K.

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