By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has rattled stocks and Wall Street, canceled events (including March Madness and NBA games) and caused jittery consumer runs on toilet paper and bottled water at grocery stores.
However for the housing market, the Coronvirus is juxtaposed with historically low mortgage interest rates.
Real estate expert Jim Belfiore said so far home buyers are taking advantage of mortgage interest rates which are at all-time lows but added that home builders are starting to see some slower foot traffic at sales offices.
“It seems fewer people are coming to sales offices but those who are coming are signing sales contracts,” said Belfiore, who is president of Belfiore Real Estate Consulting in Phoenix.
Belfiore said his research team has collected regional housing sales data through end of last week. He said it showed a strong housing market in metro Phoenix, especially with entry level buyers taking advantage of interest rates at historic lows.
“At this point sales are healthy in the state of Arizona they are the highest they have been since 2005,” Belfiore said.
He also said that he has spoken to industry cohorts in other markets noting a national analyst has not seen a drop yet in new home sales, but demand has softened in Seattle.
Washington state has 457 of the reported 1,832 Coronavirus cases and 31 deaths in the U.S. Those are the most of any U.S. state. Arizona has 9 reported cases and no deaths. The average age of COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S. is 80.
Belfiore does expect the pandemic to impact sales traffic at new home subdivisions.
“Undoubtedly I would anticipate the Coronavirus to have an effect on traffic,” Belfiore said. “We will see a slowdown. I think it’s inevitable.”
But he said the lower mortgage rates are still attractive especially to first-time and entry level buyers many of whom might now be renters.
“I think people see 3 percent mortgage interest rates and that’s an opportunity we have never had,” Belfiore said.