Over the past decade, there was a huge surge in renter households following the sub-prime mortgage of 2008. In a short span of time, the country was able to go through an economic recovery, thanks to fresh jobs, a robust Wall Street, and a newly recovered real estate market. Many people were rightfully thinking that now is the right time to invest in real estate.
And then 2020 happened.
Setting aside the terrible blow it dealt to human lives, the pandemic also broke key industries that shaped our economy, including real estate. During the first few months of the outbreak, both tenants and landlords, even those in modest houses, felt the effects of the pandemic when city-wide quarantines kicked in, creating a domino effect of loss: businesses closed, tenants couldn’t pay rent, landlords couldn’t pay off investments, and for a while, it seemed like the country is on the brink of a full-blown economic depression.
Thankfully, the CARES (or, Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Stimulus) Act injected an unprecedented $2 trillion into the economy to help Americans with direct-cash handouts and business stimuli packages—the largest ever in U.S. economic history.
But even with the CARES Act and cities reopening for the first time since the lockdowns, investors need to take into account certain aspects of investing in a post-pandemic real estate market:
Adopt an ‘Economic Depression’ Mindset
One of the key recommendations of seasoned investors is to invest like we’re in an economic depression. In short, be conservative. Just like in 2008, lenders are again tightening their lending criteria, both for residential and commercial properties, making it difficult for buyers and investors to fund real estate projects.
And it’s not a ‘what if’ scenario: the FHA has already bumped up its criteria for loan qualifications and credit scoring, making it harder for people with mediocre credit scores to secure a loan. So, to qualify for loans like the GAP funding for real estate investors, business and financial consultants suggest ensuring a higher-than-average credit score and a slow-but-sure strategy to gain a stable revenue.
Seizing the Right Opportunities
On the flipside, the post-pandemic real estate market might be a boon to many qualified property owners. While loans have tightened, mortgage rates have gone down, which means that there are more opportunities for buyers to purchase homes, should they qualify.
If you’re already a qualified property owner, you can look into borrowing against your equity in current properties at historically low rates, allowing you to either improve existing properties or expand into new ones. Keeping the ‘economic depression’ mindset, invest only in what you can afford to lose. Save your money for low-risk investments and don’t try to blow it off on speculation. This might not be the right time for it.
Preparing for a Long Period of Uncertainty
The real estate market, both pre- and post-pandemic, is always unpredictable, even in places where it’s historically stable. But in the current situation, the market will surely be uncertain for the foreseeable future. Make sure you’re financially prepared by keeping little to no high-interest debts and maintaining a higher-than-average credit score. Save liquid assets to cover for operational costs and keep a steady income stream from a rental property.
These three wise pieces of advice—being conservative in funds, taking advantage of low-risk investments, and maintaining a steady income stream—are tangible actions you can do now to keep afloat in a post-pandemic real estate industry. These can give you some stability, whether you’re a buyer or an investor, until the market uncertainty lifts.