Can I Buy or Sell a House During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

As spring homebuying season approached this year, Mike and Tammy York of Lompoc, California, listed their house for sale and started looking for a home to buy in Bakersfield, California, where they want to retire.

But then the coronavirus outbreak called everything into question. When the governor of California issued a statewide stay-at-home order March 19, the York’s wondered if they were stuck.

“We thought, ‘Now what are we going to do?'” Mike York says.

Welcome to today’s real estate market, where many ask if it’s still possible to buy or sell. As the Yorks have found, the answer is yes, though the process includes some new challenges.

“There are people out there buying and selling real estate,” says Jeanne Radsick, president of the California Association of Realtors and a real estate agent with Century 21 Jordan-Link & Co. in Bakersfield. “But it’s not just business-as-usual.”

Government social distancing regulations vary by state, county and city. Some states never instituted stay-at-home orders. Others plan to reopen soon, and still others have not set a date to end strict shelter-in-place requirements. Rules about whether real estate is an essential service during a stay-at-home order also vary.

If, like the York’s, you want to sell or buy a home despite the pandemic, here are some of the things you may encounter.

About the author:Ā Barbara Marquand writes about homeownership and mortgages, and is NerdWallet’s authority on insurance.