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Navigating the housing market during a pandemic

How to navigate the housing market during a pandemic
How to navigate the housing market during a pandemic 04:49

Although buying a home might not seem like it would be top of mind during the greatest public health crisis in more than a century, many Americans are trying to do just that. Robust demand from house-hunters saw residential real estate prices increase in nearly every metro area across the country in the second quarter.

"COVID has impacted real estate, but not in the way that you'd think," Carol Staab, a residential specialist, told CBSN on Thursday. 

Across the U.S., home prices rose in 96% of cities between April and June, said Staab, citing National Association of Realtor data out this week. 

Median single-family home prices rose year-over-year in 174 of the 181 metro areas tracked by the trade group during the three-month period and were up 2.4% overall. But Staab said it's a different story in cities that quickly shut down to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

A "For Sale by Owner" sign is posted in front of property in Monterey Park, California, on April 29, 2020.  FREDERIC J. BROWN

Staab said the housing dynamics in New York City, where she lives and historically one of the priciest markets in the U.S., are starkly different than in other parts of the country. "Contracts in July were down 57%," she said of the environment in the city, which was devastated by the pandemic this spring. "Pricing is down 1.4%, and also we're seeing contracts coming in were 8% to 10% off list price." 

While it's a seller's market across much of the country, with inventory still low in many markets, Staab said record-low interest rates still make it a good time to buy. 

Home buyers should get pre-approved for a mortgage before starting their hunt and be prepared for a challenging climate that includes a dearth of inventory and bidding wars, she advised.

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