Director of Real Estate Gael Kelleher

Record unemployment, a volatile stock market, and the specter of COVID-19 are all cause for uncertainty, but they have not slowed down Housing Assistance’s Cape Community Real Estate.

Since the middle of March, Director of Real Estate Gael Kelleher has assisted four first-time homebuyers with the purchase of affordable homes on Cape Cod and one client with the sale of a market rate home in Hyannis.

In May, she reviewed applications for two affordable lotteries – a buydown program in Yarmouth and a new affordable home being built in Dennis – that only continued the trend.

“The interest rates are very, very low,” Kelleher said, offering one reason behind the high activity in recent weeks. “It is still a good time to buy.”

Another reason? “The people we work with at this income range are making between $50,000 and $75,000. They tend to be professional people who are able to work from home and are still working so there hasn’t been any job loss.”

While the market is still strong, Kelleher said, the pandemic is having an impact on the industry and how work is being conducted. Social distancing has led to virtual open houses.

“We’re trying to follow no-contact protocols on showings,” she said. “We’re leaving doors open and lights on, wearing a mask, and not touching anything in the house.

“I’ve had home inspections still occur where the home inspector went in with gloves and a mask, using sanitary protocols,” she continued. “We’ve had appraisal happen. Lenders are still working on mortgages. Closings have happened in people’s cars. The world is adapting and the real estate business, as I see it, is just chugging along.”

It’s the new normal which Kelleher is still adjusting to. The worst part for her is she has been unable to celebrate with new homeowners the way she usually does. “I always say the best part of my job is to be able to have a hug with the person or at a minimum a handshake and say congratulations,” she said. “That part is kind of sad, but the end result is still the same.”

For one recent homebuyer, it meant a dream was finally realized in the middle of the most surreal time in many people’s lives. “One client and her son had been on and applied for lotteries the past two to three years,” she said. “She’s closing in a week on a fantastic condo in Falmouth. She is super excited. She’s been waiting years and years for this… It is really a big difference what homeownership does for people’s self-esteem and security.”

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