The US housing market has been an inspiring, but surprising bright spot during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Real estate agents expected a downsized market in response to the pandemic, but their prediction has been turned on its head. Sellers began returning to the market in the summer and ever since there have been positive sales gains; and national housing reports from Realtor.com show that the fall has been an unusually active buying season with the housing market recovering somewhat after the first three months of the pandemic, remaining above the pre-COVID baseline into November. It turns out that the US is seeing a somewhat unexpected sellers’ market.
Home sales declined at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to social distancing and economic unpredictability; but they topped pre-COVID sales and have remained at high levels of competition due to a low housing inventory. And the sellers’ market has persisted even more so because of a pivot in the industry’s approach to buying and selling properties with health and safety guiding the fight.
Safety has been at the forefront of real estate professionals’ thoughts as the pandemic has continued. Real estate agents stepped up their game to better utilize technology—sellers have been able to harness the power of technology more fully to keep buyers and sellers active while also keeping them safe. They have managed to do this while adhering to federal, state, and local guidance regarding mitigation of coronavirus infection; real estate agents are selling homes safely effectively engaging key technology.
VIRTUAL HOME VIEWINGS
With buyers embracing online market research, any digital tools that real estate agents can provide to sellers are extremely valuable. 3D, interactive, virtual home tours, and virtual walk-throughs/showings in real-time add value to the traditional listing information, photos, videos, and floorplans. They’re paying attention to those in the market and leveraging the digital tools that allow buyers to get their first look at a property from the comfort of their current homes. They are using these tools to make sure that the people entering the homes of sellers are the most serious buyers who are most likely to request in-person viewings. Real estate agents are leveraging these tools to keep both buyers and sellers comfortable and safe.
Digital tools engage all buyers but make the most difference to qualified and serious buyers who use them to help whittle down their options before choosing to view any of them in person. Once a request for an in-person viewing is made, real estate agents are faced with ensuring the health and safety of both the prospective buyer and the seller. During the COVID-19 pandemic, agents have looked to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for guidelines for safe showings; the NAR has issued basic recommendations that are based on public health information and directives from federal, state, and local authorities. For instance, agents are showing properties by appointment rather than via open house events, to limit in-person activity and interaction during each viewing session; and they are adhering to mask and social distancing recommendations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in low supply and high demand that continue to drive home prices higher than normal (though not so high as to create a housing “bubble” in the market). It also shifted the buying season somewhat—the fall usually sees a decline in sales, but sales increased this year. The housing market is in better condition than ever, well into recovery and flourishing, especially for sellers. The bottom line is that using virtual strategies in the midst of a pandemic sellers’ market is the new best way forward. The trusted real estate agents of WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Place of Houses are prepared to help buyers and sellers safely and effectively navigate the current market. Contact WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Place of Houses to speak to a competent, licensed real estate professional today.