Wow – what a few weeks it’s been! I know the world seems upside down right now, and the real estate market is no exception. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to have slowed down all that much—yet. Generally we’ve been seeing some people pull back because of the fear of recession and stock market drops, but there are still plenty of buyers out there who see this as a window of opportunity for negotiation. Sellers still want to sell, and are generally moving forward with listing unless they are in a high risk group for Covid-19. Agents are adjusting their business practices, however, and the Wethman Group is no exception. Here are some of the changes we’ve made to deal with the current situation, and changes we're seeing in the marketplace:
- We’re generally advising against open houses, as most serious buyers will make appointments with their agent, and are looking to avoid crowds themselves. As a result, we’re listing properties earlier in the week (Monday/Tuesday) and not necessarily waiting until the weekend for offers. We’re seeing drops in foot traffic across the board, but a big increase in online views. It's more important than ever to stage and have excellent photographs when listing.
- Given that more people are working remotely from home, we are looking to capitalize on that trend by providing online 3D tours and/or video tours as well as floorplans to capture more views, and make sure that buyers who make appointments already have a pretty good idea of whether the house will work for them.
- On the occasion that we do host an open house, we will be providing a hand washing station and/or sanitizer, booties and gloves, and eliminating sign in methods that use shared pens. We’re also considering Facebook Live open houses, and open houses ‘by appointment’ to limit the number of people in a home at one time.
- We’re moving nearly all of our buyer consultations and listing appointments to online as a first step in the process, rather than in person meetings. We’ve been using GoToMeeting for years now, so this is simply an expansion of our current option to meet online. We will also be leveraging Skype, Zoom, Facetime and similar tools for listing appointments that may require us to “look” around the house as well.
- The economic situation has indeed given some buyers pause, especially if they were significantly invested in the market. But buyers who are confident in their job security are pressing ahead, and see this as a short term external shock to the economy, which will (eventually) rebound when the crises has passed. Don’t be surprised if we see a higher than usual number of ‘under contract’ properties fall out of contract status and go back on the market as the situation evolves.
- Rates, while extremely volatile day to day, continue to be near historic lows. It’s important to note that the Fed Funds Rate, recently slashed to near zero, is not directly correlated to mortgage rates, however. Look to the 10 year Treasury as an indicator. It’s still a great time to refinance (depending on the day).
The market situation is evolving daily, and we’re here to help answer any questions about where we see the real estate market headed, and what works best for your current situation. It’s going to be a wild ride, but at some point things will settle down. Please reach out if we can help!