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Coronavirus impact on real estate

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Melissa Cohen, a New York and New Jersey Real Estate Agent, joins Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss how the coronavirus is impacting the real estate sector.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: It is springtime, everyone. Supposed to be out looking for houses, looking for cars. That's really not happening as this coronavirus puts the brakes, to a large extent, on the housing market. We found out this morning applications for new mortgages fell 24% last week compared to the same time last year.

Want to get a pulse of the real estate market now with Melissa Cohen. She is a real-estate agent licensed in both New York and New Jersey. She's been at it for more than 15 years. And, Melissa, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Just give us an idea of what business is like for you on the ground right now.

MELISSA COHEN: Well, first of all, thanks so much for having me this morning, Alexis. It's great to be on with you. These are unique times, but COVID-19 has changed circumstances surrounding deals. However, deals are still getting done. And despite the numbers that you just mentioned, mortgage interest rates are at record lows, and so people are taking that opportunity to seek out opportunities to live in New York, what has long been considered-- Mayor Giuliani used to say the capital of the world.

So we're getting deals done, albeit virtually using some unique methods. For example, closing tables are not as full as they had been previously. But we have title searches going on. People are being told to keep their pens, in some cases, when they go to sign these deals, but they are getting inked, and that's a real positive sign for this country.

BRIAN SOZZI: Melissa, where are you seeing some of these strong sales?

MELISSA COHEN: Well, we're seeing sales in New York where I work, in Manhattan primarily-- also in New Jersey along the Jersey Shore. As Alexis mentioned, spring is around the corner, and so spring is a time of optimism and hope. And a lot of people this time of year are looking forward to summer and when all of this has passed us, and so you have, for example, new developments such as Toll Brothers that are giving opportunities for people to buy things virtually sight unseen on new construction.

We also just saw David Beckham did a very huge deal in Miami. So despite what's going on-- which is a horrible circumstance, and obviously everyone is being called to action to do their part to make this world a better place under these unique circumstances. Open houses-- in-person open houses have been closed, for example.

But we're getting those deals done, and we're getting people to understand that real estate is really about heart. I wore a heart necklace today in show of that, in support of that. It's about heart, and it's about finding a home for people. And if we just stay the course, we can do the process no matter how long it takes.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. Melissa Cohen, thanks so much, and good luck to you with the virtual home showings. The industry certainly has changed, at least in the near term.