Consumer Reports: Is it crazy to buy a house right now?

With record unemployment and a volatile stock market, we are living in uncertain economic times. So you might think buying a home would be the last thing you'd want to do. But with a little creativity and flexibility, this could be the right time to buy.

For over a year, Seth and Renee Bellber have been talking about selling their home for something with a little more space. Despite there being a global pandemic, they've decided now is the time to hit the market.

"We just had been a little reluctant to pull the trigger, but after talking to our agent she had explained that now is as good a time as any," the couple said.

Although navigating today's real estate market may be tricky, Consumer Reports says there may be some benefits to buying a home now.

"If you're secure in your job and you've got some savings it's actually not a bad time to buy," Consumer Reports home editor Paul Hope said. "There are going to be opportunities that probably didn't exist even just a few months ago."

The first benefit? Low interest rates. An average 30-year fixed mortgage rate this past April was just under 3.5 percent, the lowest on record since 1971. Remember that your credit score will dictate whether or not you can get the best possible rate.

Another benefit is lower competition. Mortgage applications have declined by 35-percent since the first week of March, which may mean there are fewer buyers in the market right now.

But the question remains: How can you shop for and perhaps even buy a home while social distancing? Consumer Reports says it might be easier than you think.

"The irony is that the real estate market has been actually moving towards a sort of remote or digital experience for years," Hope explained. "So skilled realtors can do things like go tour a house for you with their phone so you can really get a sense for the house before you even have to go inside."

You'll most likely want to step foot in the home before buying. Although rules are changing, follow local social distancing guidelines, avoid open houses, and make sure your realtor arranges a private showing just for you.

As for the Bellbers, they'll continue their home search with a little persistence and patience.

Consumer Reports says being flexible with a buyer can help you land a better deal. For example, accept a distant closing date, wait to have a home inspection until the seller is comfortable having people in their house, or even let them rent back the house from you until the quarantine ends.

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