Pam Cross believes now is the best time for anyone looking to buy a home.

The Southeast Oklahoma Association of Realtors president said the COVID-19 pandemic forced some real estate agencies to close for a while, but low interest rates and safety precautions have her and other realtors ready to work again.

"We're back, we're working and we're taking safety measures," Cross said. "But interest rates have not been this low — maybe ever."

Cross said housing interest rates ranging 2.75-3.2% are the lowest she's seen — "They're almost giving the money away," she said.

She said now is the best time to buy in her 25 years as a realtor, but owners haven't listed as many homes due to the pandemic.

She said realtors are taking precautions and they will adhere to any additional measures home owners want implemented to prevent community spread of coronavirus.

Cross is a broker/owner at McAlester Real Estate with Jerry Banker. She is also the president of the Southeast Oklahoma Association of Realtors, which consists of hundreds of realtors.

She said the pandemic caused a decline in the housing market that also impacts affiliate members like banks, appraisers, home inspectors and more.

"When we hurt, they hurt," Cross said.

She said some realtors in the area relied more on their rental services after the pandemic ensued, but the majority shut down due to a lack of listings.

Cross said the local market has plenty of buyers in search of home listings.

She said normally in the March-May quarter there are at least 40 new listings, but this year resulted in "just a handful — and they were vacant."

"I think it's stemming from people are just afraid and we don't want them to be afraid," Cross said, referring to the pandemic.

Cross said realtors wear masks, ensure buyers are pre-approved, and ask pre-screening questions to help reduce any potential health concerns.

She said the pandemic brought on several challenges to the real estate industry without lenders working because they weren't in the office for a while.

"If they had access to a computer they could get on there and fill out an application, but not everybody does," Cross said.

"But we want the public to know that we are taking safety measures," Cross said.

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III by email at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com or on twitter at @aohanlon3.

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