SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With record unemployment and a volatile stock market, we are living in uncertain economic times, to say the least, so you might think buying a home would be the last thing you'd want to do. But, as Consumer Reports explains, with a little creativity and flexibility, this could be the right time to buy.
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 have some savings, it's actually not a bad time to buy. 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: 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? CR says it might be easier than you think.
The irony is that the real estate market has been actually moving toward a sort of remote or digital experience for years. So skilled Realtors can do things such as tour a house for you with their phone so you can really get a sense of 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 for you.
CR 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.
All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2020 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit ConsumerReports.org.
Take a look at all of 7 On Your Side's stories with Consumer Reports here.
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic hereRELATED STORIES & VIDEOS: