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Coronavirus cuts mortgage rates but house hunters may be afraid to buy

It might sound strange, but if you’re looking to buy a home, the coronavirus outbreak could help you out.

That’s because worries about COVID-19 are helping to drive down mortgage rates as worried investors increasingly shift to bonds, and the Federal Reserve trims interest rates to calm markets, good news for buyers who would benefit from lower monthly payments.

But just as it has disrupted other aspects of American life, fears about the coronavirus may also put a crimp in what is supposed to be a brisk spring home-buying season.

Some sellers are reportedly reluctant to host open houses because they don’t want a bunch of strangers traipsing through their homes. And some buyers say that they are putting their search on hold until they feel more certain that their jobs and savings are safe.

“We are looking to buy, but (COVID) 19 has definitely caused us to pause,” says Rob Austin, a manager at a biotechnology company in California, who says he and his wife are putting the brakes on their year long hunt for a house. “The economic uncertainty trumps the lower rates by the Fed on a 30-year mortgage.”

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