Well I can tell you for a fact that I have never experienced anything like this in my 30+ plus years in the title and escrow industry.
Let’s start with some of the positive effects.
Innovation! COVID-19 has forced a stagnant industry heavy with regulatory requirements to jump on the innovation highway in the fast lane. Although we were slowly inching our way into the 21st century, the pandemic forced us to find technology driven solutions to allow us to safely transact business. Platforms formerly thought of as taboo have become a necessity. Things like E-Closings, RON (Remote Online Notarization), and remote online deposits are becoming the norm, not the unknown. This, along with quarantine has finally peeked the millennials interest in real estate. Combine that with the flood of California buyers and other struggling states, and Arizona’s market is looking pretty hot right now. I personally feel that social distancing should have been a law all along. There is no need for me to feel someone breathing on me while I stand in line anywhere!
In the world of title insurance, some of these innovative ways to social distance mentioned above would still be on the cutting room floor waiting for approval indefinitely had COVID not forced our hand to accept these new ways of doing business.
In my opinion, some of the negative effects would include the uncertainty of our Commercial sector. Certainly everyone is wanting to upgrade their home as our workforce stays closer to home. Will we see companies questioning the need for brick and mortar moving forward? Only time will tell.
Although the market in Arizona is as hot as the weather outside, are we in a false bubble? Thanks to a very hot seller’s market, we all have loads of equity or so it seems. With interest rates at an all-time low, and people antsy with nothing to do but spend their money, are we headed for trouble? The forbearance extension and moratorium of evictions may play a role in the extension of the false bubble, forcing more houses on the market to avoid foreclosure or at least an extremely high bill to repay the mortgage companies for allowing homeowners to “delay” paying their mortgage. In some cases making it next to impossible to catch up some homeowners will use this hot market to refinance or simply sell to get caught up.
So what’s an investor to do to find a deal in the age of COVID-19? Use this time to innovate your business. Re-examine your business model and look at new ways to invest. Personally I like storage right now, but don’t give up on Residential. They may be fewer and farther between, but a great fix and flip is still my favorite way to make money in real estate.
As the largest title company in the nation and a Fortune 500 company, Chicago Title is committed to protecting you and bring you the resources needed to navigate our changing market. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please do not hesitate to reach out!
Guest Author: DiAnna Jackman, VP | Escrow Operations Manager , Chicago Title