Category Archives: Ask Betsy

Q. Are we headed into a housing crisis as a result of COVID-19’s impact on the economy?

A. I believe wholeheartedly that we are not. The conditions today are vastly different than the conditions we faced heading into our last recession. In the late 2000’s, we were facing an unstable banking system, homeowners using their homes as ATMs and becoming highly leveraged and a national surplus of housing inventory. That recession was fueled by the housing crisis. The situation is very different today. The banking industry and homeowners learned their lesson. Over one third of homeowners own their homes out right and over 25% of those with a mortgage have over 50% equity. We are also facing a national housing deficient with month’s supply of inventory well below a neutral market. Finally, the dollar volume being refinanced is ¼ the level of the prior recession. Also note, excluding the most recent recession (which was caused by the housing crisis), three of the last four recessions positively impacted housing prices. While the nation will see an economic slowdown from COVID-19, this does not equate to a housing crisis.

Q. Are you seeing any changes to real estate with the growing concern of COVID-19?

A. With the recent development of COVID-19, there has been an increase in demand for virtual tours for homes, both sellers and buyers are requesting some showings to be held this way, via FaceTime or other virtual tour program. Some sellers are making special requests for buyers that are physically viewing homes to wear gloves or masks and to refrain from touching items if possible. Open houses are still being hosted and traffic to them is still strong. Some sellers are temporarily taking their homes off the market if they are not allowing showings during this time. Nationally, some states are seeing “COVID-19 Clauses” being added to contracts explaining what to do if there is a quarantine and the closing date needs to be extended.

Q. I close on the sale of my house next week. Will I get reimbursed for property taxes I have paid already this year?

A. We pay our taxes in arrears. You pay the property taxes owed from Jan 1 st to the closing date. The title company will make the calculation for you and it will be on your closing statement. Your estimated taxes for the year can be found on the Property Appraiser’s website, however, the final millage rates will not be set until October so they could change slightly. If the proposed taxes and your actual taxes differ significantly, you can request the title company to recalculate the amounts post closing. If you are escrowing your taxes, your lender will send you a refund for the taxes you have double paid after the loan has closed.