Local Realtors have experienced various effects, with more maybe to come, on the real-estate market from the COVID-19 virus situation.
Based on interviews conducted March 18-20, here are some of their views on the extent of the impact on the local real-estate market.
Natalie Roy, Keller Williams: “It is affecting the market. I have had two situations where buyers have backed out of deals, one because of the travel ban because they live in the Netherlands. We are still following up on procedures and seeing if we can do virtual tours instead of open houses. You see people wearing gloves at open houses. Collectively, we are doing things in the best interest of everybody.”
Dean Yeonas, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “Nobody is untouched by this. I’ve had two contracts back out because of concerns about the buyers’ job uncertainty. Traffic is low at open houses. The uncertainty in the air is the biggest issue. Buyers and sellers want to wait a week or two to see what happens. We don’t know when or how long this will last, but there might be more of a frenzy in the market after all of this shakes out.”
Betsy Twigg, McEnearney Associates: “We are trying to do things to keep the market going. Some sellers have decided not to put their homes on the market right now, and we are seeing what we can do to substitute for open houses and how to facilitate showings. Some agents aren’t coming to showings. Things will bounce back, we just don’t know how long it will take.”
Jack Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “This is a new territory and we are taking things one day at a time. What the actual effect is right now we still need more data to figure that out. There might be a short-time impact on inventory. People are keeping social distances when they come in to see properties, and vacant houses are showing the most right now. Some sellers don’t want people coming into their homes.”
Karen Briscoe, Huckaby, Briscoe, Conroy Realty Group, Keller Williams: “This affects the market because it affects peoples’ lives, and it makes the power of the home even more meaningful to people because it’s a human need. In some ways, people on the fence are making decisions faster and some closings have been moved up. Other things may be on pause, because every day is different. It’s a challenging opportunity to be creative and be there for our clients. But the market won’t go away and everything will be fine. We just can’t say when. We will be there for our clients.”
Casey Samson, Samson Properties: “The local market has made a slight correction due to the coronavirus. However, it was so strong, even with the correction, homes are still selling first weekend. In our market, February 2020 contracts were up 20 percent over 2019, but the first two weeks of March, we were down nine percent from 2019. Our main adjustment for everyone’s safety is to cancel open houses, which has had little effect on sales. The buyer pipeline is growing due to anticipated lower [interest] rates. This is definitely going to have a wide-ranging negative effect on everyone, but we will have to see if the strength and demand of the local real-estate market can withstand it. Stay tuned, because this looks to be a marathon, not a sprint.”
Craig Mastrangelo, Compass: “The coronavirus has created almost daily changes to our personal and work lives. The steps my colleagues are taking is limiting showings of our listings (no overlapping tours) and for now, we are canceling broker open houses and public open houses. Some settlement/title companies have even suggested that only title attorneys and signers (buyers and/or sellers) attend closing, thus limiting the number of attendees in their offices. With the limited supply of inventory, the expectation is that demand will continue, as the steps that have been put in place to show homes still protect the homeowners and buyers as best they can. Until banking begins to change – i.e., loans are harder to process – and/or courthouses decide to close, the real-estate industry may continue moving forward, with these showing restrictions, for the foreseeable future.”
Casey Margenau, Casey Margenau Fine Homes & Estates: “I don’t understand why, but it has been business as usual so far. I would expect it to be different. We are doing things to protect our clients, like wearing booties in homes and using hand sanitizer. We clean and disinfect properties we visit. At opening houses we are still getting people, but they are serious buyers. In reality, people still need to move. Sellers may feel they need to sell more quickly because it might be the only deal they get, or they may put off selling until next spring. First-time buyers, though, don’t care about this. They are thinking they might get better deals. This has less of an effect than 9/11 when everything stopped for 60 days.”
Mark Middendorf, Long & Foster: “You don’t see the frenzy at open houses that we’ve had. There used to be non-stop people showing up, and now not as many. People are nervous because everyday something else is shutting down. But our markets are pretty resilient. I think buyers will continue to buy; one reason is because the interest rates are so ridiculously low. I remember after 9/11, everything about the market stopped. Then when Jan. 1 came, the market took off.”
Rob Ferguson, Re/Max Allegiance: “What is interesting is the first-time-buyers’ market continues to be brisk, and I haven’t seen a change for homes [priced] under a million dollars.. Things are a little slower on the upper end. People still have to move, so I haven’t seen that big of a slowdown yet.”
John Mentis, Long & Foster: “Last week, I’d say my experience was little to no impact. This week, I see more impact, with some buyers canceling showing appointments and some sellers asking visitors to wear shoe covers, use hand sanitizer and not touch anything in the house. I am waiting to see what next week brings.”