Author and curator Cynthia Cummins has been devoted to homeowners and homebuyers for three decades and counting. Visit KindredSFhomes.com for more information on San Francisco real estate. 

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Today I’m sharing verbatim the questions and answers from an interview I did this week. 

1. Why is now a great time to buy a home if you can afford it? Who is a good candidate for a home purchase right now and why? 

Traditional “Realtor” wisdom says the best time to buy was 5 years ago but, since that’s impossible, now is the best time. If your job isn’t in danger and your down payment isn’t coming from the stock market and if you’ve been wanting a HOME, there’s no reason to wait, especially given record-low interest rates.

2. Why would it be a better idea to wait out the coronavirus and the market until later this year or next year to buy a home? For whom would this strategy be better and why? 

I always joke that “Buyers don’t buy in a buyers’ market.” That’s because there’s a tendency to wait for confirmation that it’s the perfect time to buy and you can only get that in hindsight. If you wait to see what your friends are doing, you’ve waited too long.

3. What is the risk that mortgage rates will increase or decrease later this year or into next year? How should that factor into one’s decision on if/when to buy?

I don’t have a crystal ball — none of us saw COVID coming! — but the rates out there now are the best I’ve ever seen.

4. To what extent can/should the pandemic impact a prospective buyer’s decision here? If the 
pandemic never happened, would you be more inclined to recommend that they purchase now? 

If your financial house is in order, you should be fine. The question to ask yourself is: If the perfect home was waiting for me right now, would I want to know about it? If the answer is yes, you should be shopping for an agent and a home today.

5. What else should prospective purchasers consider carefully and even avoid? 

There’s so much confusion right now. In the Bay Area at least, buying has never been a DIY activity. So, a trusted agent’s guidance is critical if you don’t want to get burned. There will be some great opportunities in the coming months, but it takes a pro to recognize, contextualize and negotiate them. Properties will slip between the cracks because of confusion around how to best market them, or because they don’t show well online. It will never be a runaway buyers’ market — because inventory is always tight in the Bay Area — but since March 16th, I’ve already seen many advantageous scenarios for buyers.

6. Any other thoughts, tips or suggestions on this topic? 

The days of the open house are over, so no more driving around on Sundays stopping in for a looky-loo when you see a for-sale sign. Buying is going to take concerted effort and focus now. First and foremost: Keep it safe. Be sure you have PPE with you so you can follow COVID protocol and protect yourself. Like they say, “If you have your health you have everything” even if you don’t own a home!

Photo Credit: Ava Sol