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Monday, April 20, 2020

Selling Your Home During a Pandemic

Q: Can I still sell my house during the coronavirus pandemic?

If you are considering selling your home in New York or New Jersey, you might wonder what the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic might do to those plans.

New York and New Jersey real estate attorneys and other professionals involved in the real estate transaction business-- like real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and lenders-- are adapting to new challenges that COVID-19 brings to the process.

The good news is that our “Real Estate Sales Roadmap” – a guide to help clients understand what to expect during the process of selling their home – is still an accurate description of how to get from point A to point B on your real estate deal. That said, you must be wary of potential delays or “detours” due to government directives in your area related to the evolving coronavirus pandemic.

Possible issues or challenges that could impact a real estate sale:

  • Showing the home. Prospective buyers generally tour houses in person before entering a contract to buy, but with ever-changing government directives related to social distancing and restricting or prohibiting people from congregating, buyers, sellers and real estate brokers are getting creative and are increasingly relying on video technology in many cases.
  • Job security. With many Americans in non-essential industries losing their jobs (at least initially) and others worried that a layoff might be coming, the uncertain economy posed by the COVID-19 crisis could make some prospective buyers hesitant to enter a contract of sale, especially if they are relying on financing the purchase with a mortgage. Yet those in essential businesses may be strong candidates for a mortgage and those planning to purchase a home “all cash” (without financing) are often attractive buyers. In any market, there are considerations which drive buyers to buy and sellers to sell – even during a pandemic.
  • Delays Possible. Parties on both sides of the transaction should expect there might be delays in a real estate transaction that are directly or indirectly related to COVID-19. Parties may become ill, pass away, lose their jobs, lose financing, or will be otherwise impacted by the virus itself or government directives associated with the pandemic. Brokers, home inspectors, title companies, and court houses may be closed or be operating with limited staff and limited hours, delaying various stages of the transaction process. To the extent possible, buyers and sellers should adopt a cooperative mindset and be flexible if they can.

Savvy real estate attorneys are crafting COVID-19 specific clauses to address some of these concerns and protect their clients’ legal interests for the transaction.

If you are considering selling a home or buying a home in New York or New Jersey, the real estate attorneys at Merlino & Gonzalez can help you. Contact us today for a consultation.

From our offices in Staten Island, New York and East Brunswick, New Jersey, we assist client in both states in all aspects of real estate law.


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