Buying or selling a house during lockdown?

17 August 2020 454
“I was just about to put our house in the market and look for a new place when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. I’m very unsure if now is the time to buy and sell. What do you think?”

As South Africa still finds itself in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, your question is most certainly relevant to most buyers and sellers, even more so as parties ponder the safety issues surrounding buying or selling a house during the pandemic.

That said, in principle where under the hard lockdown it was not possible to buy/sell a house, under the current lockdown regulations it is most certainly possible to do so, provided all parties adhere to the health and safety regulations in force to protect themselves and stop the spread of the virus.

When considering the pro’s and con’s of buying or selling a house in these times, it does not change the fact that it remains a very personal decision to be made and is influenced by your needs, finances and the current market position. However, a few pro’s and con’s can be set out which can complement your personal views:

For the seller:

  • Definitely a difficult time to be selling, as it is currently more a buyer’s market. However, pricing, location and quality of your home can swing interest your way.
  • Negotiations may be harder as buyers are more spoilt for choice and can negotiate harder.
  • With people viewing houses more online and visiting houses where there is more real interest, you may find a quality exhibition of your house online can attract real interest and reduce the hassle of opportunistic browsers.
  • If you are unsure of your financial position or your ability to secure a new home, it could be prudent to wait a while before trying to sell.
For the buyer:

  • Your financial position must be sound, taking into account any uncertainty in your employment as well as your ability to qualify for and cover a mortgage bond.
  • If you can buy now, the buyers market does provide room for negotiating a good deal with a seller.
  • Interest rates are quite low right now and this could count in your favour.
  • If your offer is dependent on selling your existing home, it will be important to evaluate the potential of you selling your home. If you are rather willing to gamble and carry two bonds (new and existing) whilst you sell your current home, it will be vital to ensure you can afford to do so for some time if your house does not sell quickly or be prepared to substantially lower your asking price in order to get your house sold faster.
Each of these are subjective factors highly dependent on your personal situation. In all cases, what remains important is that your decision to buy or sell is not taken lightly and that a calculated decision is made with due regard to all your personal circumstances.