How COVID-19 is Changing the NC Real Estate Industry

Two adult men sitting on a couch looking at a computer.

Real estate is constantly changing and adapting to keep up with 2020. It’s no secret that COVID-19 has had a massive impact on, well, everything but no industry has adapted to meet the “new normal” quite like real estate. North Carolina real estate is keeping up with COVID-19 in new and surprising ways—leading to a more seamless real estate transaction experience for practically every party involved.

Here’s an overview of exactly how North Carolina real estate has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Technology Streamlines the Process

In the past, real estate transactions required in-person meetings and negotiations. As social distancing became necessary to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, the real estate industry quickly adapted by implementing a powerful suite of technologies to help distance the transaction process.

Now, much of the transaction can take place virtually. Many real estate agents, title insurance companies, mortgage lenders, and other players in the industry have made significant changes to their operations. For example, many home tours can now take place virtually, much of the closing paperwork has been transferred to online forms, and even applying for a mortgage has largely moved online.

A Push for More Efficient Communication

Prior to COVID-19, the title insurance process happened largely in the background of the overall real estate transaction. Now, however, title insurance agencies are playing an integral role in the closing process. Our team is going above and beyond to provide all of our customers with an exemplary title insurance experience—even if it can’t be in person.

In fact, our new emphasis on technology has allowed us to stay in touch with our clients, communicate more efficiently, and be there for them every step of the process in new and more efficient ways.

A Superior Closing Experience

Title insurance companies like Tryon Title have worked hard this year to create a closing process that is efficient and virtual. Many of the real estate industry’s key players have made the closing process as contact-free as possible to ensure the safety of all involved parties.

eClosing Can Get the Job Done Faster

Once upon a time, eClosing was a convenient software that made it easier to complete the real estate transaction when distance was an issue. Now, however, it’s a great option for closing on a real estate transaction.

eClosing benefits borrowers and lenders as they work to close transactions on behalf of the buyers and sellers they represent. Some of those specific benefits include:

  • Allows involved parties to sign paperwork digitally—eliminating the need for in-person appointments
  • Home-buyers can preview their closing documents in advance from wherever they are
  • Reduces the process from hours to minutes
  • Simplifies the closing process for all involved parties as the paperwork is compiled and executed online
  • Drastically reduces errors that result from closing deadlines and other logistical issues

Title Insurance Adapts to Meet Consumer Needs

Title insurance is still an essential part of the real estate transaction—it’s just easier to navigate now that agents are working to transfer the process online. Purchasing title insurance for a real estate property does not require lengthy in-person meetings, physical handshakes, or any other formalities.

With the process moving online, it allows for a convenient experience for all involved parties. Real estate agents and their clients, mortgage lenders, paralegals, and other professionals can rest assured knowing that there are plenty of safe and smart ways to continue purchasing and selling real estate.

Apply for Title Insurance Today

Looking for a title insurance policy on behalf of your clients? Our team of underwriters has years of experience assisting real estate agents and home buyers with title insurance throughout North Carolina.

Get in touch with our team today to find out more.

The Impact of Coronavirus on North Carolina Real Estate

An aerial view of three rows of suburban homes.

As we begin to shift into a new “normal,” the real estate industry is adjusting to life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have caused businesses to change their operations to ensure safety and healthy practices. The North Carolina real estate industry has followed suit.

While things are changing, there’s no need to panic. This is a resilient industry that’s gone through many recessions and always manages to come out on top. Here are some answers to the questions we’re hearing most often from our real estate clients:

How Do You Sell Homes in a Pandemic?

In an age of social distancing, virtual tours are the new norm for real estate agents. Many agents across the state are finding new and creative ways to show potential home buyers their listings without any travel necessary.

Just getting started? Here are a few tips for pulling off a great virtual tour:

  • Get the home ready like you would for any other show: open all the windows, turn on all the lights, and make the home look as bright and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
  • Try not to zoom in at any point because this distorts the view and creates confusion for the viewer. Similarly, if you’re going to show off the entire house, be sure you’re far enough away from it so that you capture the entire home in the frame.
  • Make sure to choose the right time of day. While noon has the most sunlight, it can wash out the home’s features. Shoot the virtual tour at sundown, as this has the most flattering light.

In addition to the traditional virtual tour walkthrough, consider trying out a 3D or virtual reality tour. These give the buyer the freedom to click through the home and navigate it at their own pace—as if they were there in person.

Are Home Prices Changing?

Recent data shows that home prices are going down as sellers begin to lose confidence in the real estate market. In early April, the median listing price for a home in the United States was $309,000—nearly $21,000 lower than two weeks before.

Are Sellers Delisting Their Homes?

Some sellers have opted to delist their homes because of the coronavirus. In the last week of March, there was a 184% year-over-year increase in delistings—a total of 28,140 homes across the country.

Is Now a Bad Time to Buy a Home?

No, while supply may be temporarily down, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad time to buy a home. It’s difficult to time the market when it comes to any serious investment—including real estate—which is why most experts say you shouldn’t.

The truth of the matter is: people still need to buy homes. There are a wide variety of reasons to buy a home, and those reasons won’t go away just because there’s a pandemic. Buyers can still find their dream home, at the right price and in the right location, at the time. The main thing that’s going to change is the process of getting it done.

What’s Going on with Mortgage Loans?

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index, mortgage applications dropped 33% year over year. While North Carolina has not been hit as hard by the coronavirus as other states, mortgage applications are expected to decrease in volume as interest rates creep upwards.

In fact, the average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose in March from 3.84 to 3.87. It may become more difficult to obtain a new home loan across the country. Many lenders are adding stricter underwriting to their loans and some refinance applications are being dropped as applicants lose employment or income.

In addition, it was revealed in the Mortgage Bankers Association survey that 7% of existing mortgage loans are now in forbearance. Many banks and lenders are offering homeowners different relief programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How is the Mortgage Process Changing?

Some lenders are beginning to require higher credit scores for mortgage applicants. Additionally, minimum down payments are increasing and a few lenders are stopping the issuance of loans altogether.

That just means buyers need to be more diligent in shopping around for different lenders and getting pre-approved for a mortgage application before looking for a home.

How Can I Stay On Top of What’s Going On?

With rules and regulations seeming to change every day, it can be challenging to stay on top of everything that’s happening in the real estate industry right now. Some easy ways to stay updated, while avoiding the “information overload” that some are experiencing, is to subscribe to local blogs like ours. NC Realtors has a Coronavirus Information page that they update regularly with resources, guides, and other information useful to anyone involved in the real estate industry.

Have a specific question about your title insurance at this time? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Tryon Title. We’re here to help you and your clients as you navigate buying, selling, and investing in North Carolina real estate during coronavirus.