Realtor says local market may be down, but it’s not out

The real estate market has been dampened due to the COVID-19 pandemic but one local realtor predicts a strong return “once people start to get comfortable with going outside again.”

J.D. Sanford said a “much busier fall/winter than normal,” given the pandemic has abated.
Sanford said that locally, as well as across the nation, the coronavirus hasn’t resulted in many price reductions, though many people have put their plan to buy or sell on hold.”

“Many buyers may be out of work and no one wants to walk through a stranger’s home right now,” he said of the residential market. “Sellers with vacant homes seem to be doing better than ones that are occupied by the owner or a tenant. On the commercial side there is an even greater slowdown- few businesses want to expand or sign a new lease with so much economic uncertainty. Any business dependent on a foreign supply chain is especially conservative.”

While few people are dropping their asking price, “A protracted economic slowdown could lower housing prices eventually, but it takes a long time for someone to say ‘I want to sell my home for less than my neighbor did.’ Most people will only make that decision out of desperation and we’re only a month into this so far. If prices drop it will likely take a few months.”

That said, how business is being conducted has undergone some changes.

“There are emerging best practices for how to do a showing in these circumstances – the agent arrives early and opens the door, does not enter the house. Buyers wear masks, gloves and shoe covers. Agents are also recording themselves walking through the home as a ‘virtual tour’ to take the place of showings. Some homeowners only allow in-person showings once the broad strokes of an a contract have been negotiated.”

Even though the market has slowed, it has not stopped, Sanford said. “In spite of the slowdown there are still a lot of new homes getting listed and closings happen every day. If someone needs to buy or sell a house the market is still moving.”

He said in the end, buyers and sellers will make the decisions that are right for their families.

“When it comes down to it, moving is a personal decision that families make for themselves, it is a big decision that takes a lot of planning. I don’t think many families would permanently cancel those plans due to a delay. I think the market will see a surge at the end of this.”

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