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


Spring is prime time for those wanting to buy a home, but the coronavirus is leading some people to put their search on hold until they feel more certain about their jobs, 401(k)s and even their safety.

“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 hunt for a house. “The economic uncertainty trumps the lower rates by the Fed on a 30-year mortgage.”

Austin and his wife, Natalia, have been renting a home in Arcadia, California, where they live with their four-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. But they’d spent the past year trying to buy a place of their own. 

“We’ve been actively scouring the listings,” says Austin, adding that they’ve had searches set up on real estate sites like Zillow.

But that was before the coronavirus hit. 

“There’s this uncertainty in the air .. that leads you to say, what’s the rush?”  Austin says, adding that even the Fed’s decision this week to cut rates by half a percentage point was disconcerting because it indicated that financial policymakers are nervous. “There’s no need to rush because you never know if you’re going to lose your job or what can happen.”  



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