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What home buyers and sellers need to know before making any moves during the pandemic

Real estate markets prepare for busy fall season
Posted at 6:00 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 19:22:43-04

CLEVELAND — Buying or selling a house is stressful enough without a pandemic looming overhead.

The housing game in Greater Cleveland is hot right now and that’s the case coast to coast.

It is a seller's market right now — with low inventory and buyers on the prowl.

“In some cases you have 20 people looking at a house, you’ve got half of them writing offers, it is intense out there,” said Mike Bankowski, branch manager at Cleveland-based mortgage lender Nations Lending.

It’s something Jennifer Arch knows well.

“Everything is just different,” she said, laughing. “Houses are going in a matter of hours. As soon as they’re going on the market, they’re flying off the market.”

Her family put in offers on nearly half a dozen homes in the Greater Cleveland area over the last few months before finally locking one down.

“And we weren’t the highest bidders, but I submitted a letter to the seller just explaining how much we loved the house. This house was THE house and they accepted our offer,” Arch said.

Arch said their lease was up and they had to move, coronavirus crisis or not.

And while they appreciated the virtual showings, they knew they wanted to physically walk through their future home before purchasing.

Her advice to potential home buyers: “I would say don’t be scared. Do not be scared. If it is something you really have to do, do it.”

Bankowski said some people who qualified for loans before the pandemic — before the loss of income or reduced hours — have definitely been impacted when it comes to approval.

He said he has also seen big banks put on more restrictions or raise requirements and lenders needing higher credit scores or increased down payments.

Still, he sees many people wanting to buy.

“It’s the American Dream right? Pandemic or not, it’s the American Dream. In 20-plus years, I’ve always seen people wanting to buy and always people needing to sell,” Bankowski said.

So here’s the Rebound Rundown for you:

  • If you’re a buyer — you need pre-approval letter in hand and your financing in order or you will lose out on homes in this hot market.
  • If you’re thinking of selling — you’ll be adding to a really small inventory right now, and can probably get top dollar for your home.
  • Often times here in Greater Cleveland these days, experts said homes are selling for thousands of dollars over list price.
  • A reminder that despite whats happening in the economy, interest rates are still at historic lows.

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.