Housing Market & COVID-19
Spring is normally a busy time for the real estate industry, but with COVID-19 touching all aspects of daily life, the situation is ever changing. We asked local experts what the pandemic could mean for buyers and sellers in the area.
how is the market?
Janet Horlacher (principal, Janet McAfee Real Estate): “It’s doing really well. There are a lot of buyers looking for homes, and the housing market is a safe haven, both in terms of investment and people’s livelihoods. In challenging times like this, places like St. Louis rise to the top while other cities are struggling because of overcrowding.”
Kevin Goffstein (president, Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Alliance Real Estate): “It’s too early to be completely sure about the effect the new coronavirus will have. I’ve informally polled some of our top agents, and they have been very busy the last couple of weeks. We had one agent contract three properties the second weekend in March. That’s a good sign that real estate is weathering the storm.”
what precautions are being taken now?
Stafford Manion (president, Gladys Manion Real Estate): “We’re doing our part to be responsible and prevent the spread of the virus. Our agents are working remotely and only coming into the office when it is absolutely necessary. We have suspended all open houses, and if a house has multiple showings, they are staggered by a minimum of 30 minutes.”
Goffstein: “Thankfully, the real estate business has evolved, so it’s very capable of continuing remotely. In the office, we’ve introduced new cleaning protocols to sanitize our lobbies, closing rooms and other facilities. When showing homes, we recommend sellers have hand washing stations in the kitchens for people to use when they enter. We’re also working with sellers’ individual needs. For example, elderly clients have the option of showing their homes virtually.”
what does this mean for buyers?
Horlacher: “I think it’s a good time for buyers. When there is uncertainty in the marketplace, it tends to motivate sellers. Plus, the costs associated with buying a home are very affordable right now. If you work with a trusted brokerage firm, it can make sure the process is safe. You don’t have to risk your health to buy a home.”
Goffstein: “The Federal Reserve just cut interest rates to almost 0%. It’s important that buyers remember that this is not the same as mortgage rates, which likely won’t go that low.”
Manion: “Buyers should be aware that the stock market is fluctuating, which could impact how they make their down payments. The $25,000 they thought they had may only be worth $18,000.”
how about sellers?
Manion: “With the current situation, we may see some properties that were scheduled to go on sale decide to wait for things to settle. Inventory is already low, so supply and demand will push us into a seller’s market. People are going to spend a lot more time at home than normal. If you’re thinking about selling, it’s a great opportunity to do small projects to improve your house and yard. It will make the property worth more when you do go to market.”
Horlacher: “Sellers need to showcase their properties well online. The first showing is digital, and with social distancing and other concerns, it’s now even more important to make that a knockout.”