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Real estate experts give market advice in Covid times

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Panelists on the latest Inside LI webinar gave crucial advice for homebuyers and sellers in a market that’s been heating up all summer.

On Sept. 3, Inside LI, produced by RichnerLive, hosted its third virtual panel discussion on topics related to “new normals” in different aspects of life. It featured real estate experts who discussed Covid-19’s impact on the market and gave tips for buying and selling homes.

The 45-minute webinar included panelists Steven Dubb, principal of The Beechwood Organization; Bryan Karp, real estate salesman at Coach Realtors; Annie Meneses, associate Broker at Signature Premier Properties; Joseph G. Milizio, attorney and managing partner of Vishnick McGovern Milizio LLP; and Deirdre O’Connell, chief executive officer of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International.

 

Demand skyrocketing

Moderator Skye Ostreicher, of RichnerLive and Herald Community Newspapers, first asked how long the panelists foresaw the high demand for homes continuing on Long Island.

“Everything points to a hot market for the next several months,” Dubb said, “at least until there’s a vaccine and it’s safe to go to the city. I think that’s going to be a while.”

O’Connell explained that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are spending more time at home and reassessing their lifestyles. For many who live in apartments in the five boroughs, that means fleeing east to buy a home with more space.

“Housing isn’t just about a place to sleep anymore,” she said. “It’s a place to live, and then you add on the low interest rates, and it makes doing it more affordable no matter what the price point.”

Karp agreed, noting a large shift of people moving from Manhattan to the boroughs, from the boroughs to Nassau County and from Nassau to Suffolk counties.

However, there is low supply for all that demand, the panelists agreed, because sellers may be uncomfortable having people tour their homes and risk spreading the virus. Realtors and real estate agents have taken this into account, and most house tours are by appointment only.

The low supply and high demand is causing the most fast-paced market that some have ever seen, and there are often bidding wars for homes. “It is probably the best seller’s market that I’ve seen in many, many decades,” Karp said, “but we don’t have an unlimited time for this.”

 

Selling a home

So what should sellers who want to take advantage of this hot market do?

O’Connell noted that although there are bidding wars, that doesn’t mean sellers should slap a high price tag on their home “just because.”

“While we are seeing bidding wars and over-asking, [buyers] are not going into that huge aspirational price point,” she said. “People still will pay market value and slightly over for homes that are in beautiful condition.”

Karp advised sellers against doing any major renovations to the home before selling; because the market is moving so quickly, time is of the essence. “As long as you don’t have water pouring down in the kitchen, just sell it the way it is,” he said. “In this market, it’s about time. The quicker you can get to market, the better chance you have to scoop up as much equity as possible.”

Meneses noted that in this fast-paced market, the process for sellers typically takes two to three weeks.

 

Buying a home

For buyers, the experts emphasized working with a team of real estate professionals to help with all aspects of the purchase. This includes a local real estate agent and real estate attorney who know the ins and outs of the local market — “do not hire a litigation attorney, do not hire a divorce attorney,” Karp said. “You want someone who is knowledgeable about today’s market and what is OK and what is not OK.”

Even after an offer is accepted, Milizio noted, there are still many problems that can arise in the contract phase. The purchase or sale of a home is the largest and most important transaction in most people’s lives, and its purpose isn’t merely transactional—it’s to create a home for a family,” he said. “What I would like to impress upon buyers and sellers is to consult a real estate attorney at the beginning of the process, not the end, which ensures a smoother, quicker and often less costly process.”

“We do need a team of professionals to support each other so we can give necessary advice to buyers,” Meneses added. “You don’t have an accepted offer until your contracts are fully executed.”

During the virtual event, viewers sent in questions, which Ostreicher read to the panelists. One asked how low-income buyers could navigate the real estate market, especially those who might be unemployed during the pandemic.

Panelists agreed that the market is heating up in all areas, from upstate New York to Shelter Island, at all price points, including as low as $200,000. However, some buyers have chosen to wait out this period of low inventory so they have more options, Meneses noted.

Meneses also said there are new down-payment system programs available for those with a tight budget.

Ultimately, it’s an exciting time for the real estate industry, the panelists said. Though they lost about three months of business in the spring, this change in the market has allowed them to bounce back quickly. “The opportunity is now, the opportunity is in front of us,” Karp said. “It will probably run another six months.”

To watch a recording of this webinar, visit richnerlive.com/insideli-realestate. To suggest a topic for a future Inside LI webinar, send an email to insideli@liherald.com.