Americans are moving, despite the COVID-19 pandemic

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CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — In real estate, timing is everything.

“Last spring my husband and I decided it was the right time for us to transition out of our beautiful, big home that we loved, raised our family in,” said Jennifer Woolford.

Springtime is usually the sweet spot for those looking to list their house.

“We had a daughter graduate from college, a son in the last year of college. It seemed like the right time for us.”

Just days after Woodward and her husband put their suburban Chicago home on the market, the pandemic hit.

“What do we do? it was very scary, and you know what, we decided to trust the process,” recalled Woolford.

She partnered with the Capitanini Real Estate Team.

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“We worked together to figure out how many people are going in, are you comfortable with them going in, should we be doing this virtually?”

“It is daunting, it is uncertain and when you add in a pandemic into it, we have to add in a layer of safety,” explained Trish Capitanini.

Since March, the Capitanini Team has sold more than 50 homes in the North Shore suburbs–outside Chicago.

“Equally successful, without having any issues with COVID,” says Capitanini.

Areas like these are appealing to buyers who want space to spread out.

The National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun attributes this new housing demand to more people working remotely.

“People who happen to be content with their home, say three-bedroom home, now say it’s simply too small. Dr. Yun said. “They need that fourth bedroom or fifth bedroom to turn it into office space for themselves and for their spouse.”

As buyers imagine what’s next.

“Do I need to work at home? College kids at home? Children at home? Home school?” asked Woolford.

American are also shifting how they use their square footage.

“What they are now doing is living differently. A lot of outdoor entertaining, a lot of outdoor space that I think will carry on for years and years with families,” explained Capitanini.

Families looking for their forever home aren’t holding back either.

The government reports an estimated 999,000 new homes sold in the United States in October, which is more than a 40 percent increase over the same month last year.

Existing home sales also jumped to 6.85 million in October, which is more than a 25 percent increase from a year ago.

We’re seeing less days on market, closer to asking, we’re seeing multiple offers that may feed into a stronger offer,” said Capitanini.

Both experts agree sellers have the edge right now, but there are costs to consider:

“Whether it’s old, whether its brand new, whatever it is. you want to invest a little on, make sure the condition is perfect and that is going to be the best return on your dollar,” she said.

“But given the exceptionally low mortgage rates, it is pretty much mitigating the transaction cost, at least as to how the consumers are viewing in the current environment, but there is always a transaction cost,” warned Yun.

During uncertainty caused by the pandemic, Woolford’s family sold and said goodbye to their home.

“My husband and I ended up saying, you know what, we love this house, we want someone else to love this house.”

Now a new family will get to make their own holiday memories here.

“It’s a difficult process selling your home or buying a home, but it doesn’t have to be without joy,” added Capitanini.

Real estate contracts have also changed since the pandemic. Capitanini says the majority of her client’s contracts now include a COVID-19 clause. This gives buyers and sellers some flexibility if a problem arises due to the virus. A COVID-19 clause could cover delays in inspections, or if one of the parties must go into quarantine. Buyers may also be allowed to cancel the contract if they lose their job before closing.

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