Residential real estate industry adjusts to impact of pandemic

Real Estate | 8 May |

The pandemic has many wondering if it’s the right time to buy or sell a home, but those entering the market have found just what they’re looking for.

Even with stay-at-home orders in place, there are still plenty of people listing and buying homes at a steady pace.

According to Brissa Geiger, Realtor at Mojica & Associates Real Estate, says the market index is in favor of sellers with demand being higher than the current supply. Homeowners can still expect to see a strong offer on their homes.

“Due to the stay-at-home order, home sales did decline the last couple of weeks of March and beginning of April by about 30%, however, we did see an increase as of last week,” Geiger said. “The drop in home sales does not necessarily mean that home values have been affected.”

And while home prices are decreasing, some sellers are looking to sell simply because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alex Wals, a first-time homeowner and now seller, says she was planning on selling her house over the summer, but put her house on the market in late March when things started to escalate. She said she was scared her roommates would not be able to pay rent once the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“Selling it before there’s a potential increase of listings due to job loss or foreclosures was a pro for me,” Wals said. “However, in order to sell quickly I had to lower the price and there was a huge loss of showings. The few people who were willing to view the property would ask what we were doing about the virus.”

According to a recent Gallup poll, only half of Americans believe it is a good time to purchase a home, charting a record low and a 10% decrease compared to last year.

“Some have decided to wait and others are taking advantage of the low interest rates and slight drop in competition,” Geiger said. “As of now, I believe they are steady and buyers with the right credit score are able to lockdown their rate in the mid to high 3%, which is incredibly great.”

Erin Brassey, a first-time home buyer, says while she definitely had a difficult time shopping for a house there will always be pros and cons. In this case the pros outweigh the cons for 20-year-old Brassey as she sees homeownership to be more valuable than renting right now.

“I feel like it has definitely been harder shopping during the pandemic as opposed to another time because I wasn’t able to see pretty much all of the places that still had tenants,” Brassey said. “I really didn’t have to be buying until closer to July when my lease is up, but I just happen to have found the perfect place already.”

Many agents are coming together and finding creative solutions to provide the best service.

As traditional open houses transition to 3D tours and virtual open house events, the industry is taking a step forward and using technology to its advantage when showing house-hunters potential homes.

Jan Leighton, President-Elect of 2020 Arizona Association of REALTORS®, says many brokers are instructing their agents to put open houses on hold and instead offer virtual events to clients.

In general, most conversations and negotiations are held over the phone or via email. However, with virtual tours, FaceTime for listing appointments and agents previewing homes for potential buyers gaining popularity, the ways to communicate seem almost endless right now.

“The few open houses that are being held are complying with COVID-19 guidelines, maintaining appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures,” Leighton said. “I suspect virtual home tours will become a larger part of how we market and show homes moving forward.”

But the long-term impact remains to be unseen.

Realtor Geiger said some information regarding this pandemic is still unclear and it is hard to predict what will be as this is not a housing crisis in reference to 2010.

“In the words of Tina Tamboer, Sr. Residential housing Analyst with Cromford Report, ‘we need to cling to what we know and not what we don’t know,’” Geiger said. “What we do know is that interest rates are still low, demand is higher than the supply and most homeowners have a significant amount of equity.”

Communication is always essential, but right now, it is crucial.

“Real estate will always be about people and the relationships that are formed through the process of buying and selling a home,” Realtor Geiger said. “The goal is to always be of great service to our clients, offer accurate market updates and provide the tips/tools to stay safe during this pandemic.”

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