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OC Register | CA Realtors Told to Stop Showings and Open Houses
By Jordan Yadoo | March 11, 2020
The California Association of Realtors told its members Friday to stop all face-to-face sales activities including showings, listing appointments, open houses and property inspections due to coronavirus concerns.
Thursday’s “stay at home” order from Gov. Gavin Newsom did not exempt home selling, the association noted. The order aims to keep more people away from each other and help limit the spread of coronavirus.
Only “essential” industries can continue to operate, the order says. That includes home construction, the association noted. In recent weeks the industry had been trying to sell existing homes with lots of hand sanitizer and “social distancing” before Newsom upped restrictions.
“This supersedes all existing local city and county orders that are less restrictive,” the association states in its advisory. “Clients and other consumers are also subject to these orders and should not be visiting properties or conducting other business in person.”
Massive layoffs are projected for many industries following numerous virus-related limitations. The bleak employment picture likely will cut the number of qualified house hunters and scare off potential buyers.
The association’s advisory added that “property management and repair work, which generally involves maintaining sanitary and safety conditions is permissible. Additionally, many other aspects of the real estate industry can continue to occur without in-person contact, including documentation and signing, and in many circumstances, closings. Other activities may also be managed remotely, though there may be some difficulties.” The contract rate on a 30-year fixed loan fell to match a record low 3.47%.
A measure of U.S. home-refinancing applications soared to the highest level since April 2009, a sign that some American homeowners may see a silver lining in the coronavirus outbreak that’s battering the economy and markets.
The Mortgage Bankers Association’s refinance index surged 78.6% in the week ended March 6 to 6,418.9, according to a report Wednesday that also showed the contract rate on a 30-year fixed loan fell to match a record low 3.47%.
Cheaper borrowing costs reflect a drop in Treasury yields as investors rush to the safety of government debt amid stock market chaos caused by the virus. Yields on government bonds that underpin home lending have plunged to record lows this week as the entire U.S. yield curve fell below 1% for the first time.