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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Housing market picks up speed amid pandemic

If you're looking to buy or sell a home, now is a good time, but you may have competition.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — If you're looking to buy or sell a home, realtors say is a good time to consider it. Keller Williams real estate agent Jacob Hicks tells Local 5 people have adapted to the pandemic. "In the last few months, things have really normalized, so we still have some folks that require certain precautions, but for the most part, it's gone back to normal," said Hicks.

The pandemic first shutdown Iowa in mid-March, leading some home sellers and buyers to rethink their timing and put what's typically a real estate agent's busiest season on hold. "Kind of the big boom for real estate is in the spring and early summer," said Hicks, "because of the pandemic, we really didn't see that at all. It was like an extended winter market, which is generally slow."

Now, he says they're experiencing that busy season later than usual. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, September is seeing a 40% jump compared to last year in people applying for a home mortgage or refinancing their existing mortgage. "We're seeing a pretty dramatic upswing in what we call a seller's market," he said, "there are so many buyers out there looking for a home that the sellers can get more than the asking price a lot of the time." In a typical seller's market, he says Keller Williams agents are seeing a lot of their listings within hours or weeks at the most.

For those considering selling a home and still have reservations because of COVID-19, Hicks says realtors will take  customers' concerns into account and act accordingly. "We would essentially follow our clients and if they wanted to door open, we would be the ones actually opening it while wearing gloves masks, and we keep hand sanitizer readily available," Hicks said. Some sellers opt to hold virtual open houses rather than in person, which Hicks says can impact how he and other realtors market properties to potential buyers.

If you're looking to refinance your existing mortgage, check your credit score. While interest rates are low right now, Hicks says your credit score still plays a bigger role in getting a lower rate. "At the very least reach out to a mortgage lender and look into it," Hicks said.