1 Spring is usually a busy time for residential real estate. How does this year compare with others?
The market started off great, but as of March 21 it started to drop off. During the COVID-19 period active listings were down 9%, pendings were down 6.7% and sold homes were down 12.3% All things considered, the market has remained strong and it is ready to get busy again!
2 What effect have the virus restrictions had on how you do business? How do you handle showings?
We use masks, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes for showings now. We also have new showing instructions protocols that address the CDC guidelines that are signed by the buyer before showings if the seller requests them. When we show homes, we refrain from touching anything except a door handle or two. Sellers are leaving closet doors open and lights on so we do not need to touch them.
3 What happened to homebuyers who had scheduled closings as the restrictions went into place?
There were closings in parking lots between cars before the title company offices were equipped to handle them. Some title companies preferred you to be on FaceTime or by speaker phone instead of attending the closing. Now when sellers and buyers arrive at the title company, they need to call to be let in. They are ushered into a private room. Sellers and buyers are in separate rooms, and the closer has the documents to sign in front of each of them. The closer is on an iPad with FaceTime in another room and explains what each document is and where to sign.
4 How do these market conditions compare with other challenges – the Great Recession or extended periods of poor weather?
The recession of 2008-09 was very different. The housing market led our country into a recession. Supply was not the issue then as it is now. We have very low inventory. In addition, we had shoddy lending practices. Getting homes sold was a challenge then and it took longer. Today, the market is strong but we have a limited supply. The COVID-19 pandemic is a temporary slowdown in a very strong market.
Yes, weather does play a part in Indiana! If it is sunny, the phone rings and people are upbeat about looking for homes or getting theirs ready to sell.
5 With people spending so much time in their homes, do you expect homebuyers will look for different amenities than they might have wanted in the past?
I do think people will find the outdoor spaces more important in their lives. A nice yard, a focal point, birds or landscaping seems to give you a sense of peace. I also think families may decide they need a room or two more to distance from their family!