What a crazy 2020 that was. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that, but it truly was. Everyone experienced different struggles, and hopefully, we’re in the home stretch. As a real estate company, we saw a change in our industry, too. Thankfully, we still had a busy year with 70 closings and many happy new homeowners. However, the home buying and selling process looks a lot different now than it did before Covid-19.
When everything first shut down, it was no surprise that some people withdrew from the market. Many potential homebuyers were nervous to go into strangers’ homes and many Sellers were also nervous having strangers tour inside their home.
The spring market was largely impacted by Covid-19. Home sales in April and May dropped to their lowest points since the housing and financial crisis that began in 2007. New listings and buyer’s activities were both down 40% in April compared to the previous year. Usually when the demand for a new home drops, so would sale prices. However, the combination of low supply and historically low mortgage rates kept prices to remain steady, which is a plus.
As spring ended and summer began, the market picked up. People quickly learned how to navigate staying safe while touring homes and what used to be in-person appointments, moved to zoom and electronic software for negotiations. There have been a number of families motivated to move for more space now that so many people spend more time at home.
An important part of buying a house is getting a chance to tour the home. When Covid hit, almost all open houses stopped, as did the ability for overlapping showings. Virtual tours became the way to see a potential new home, followed by a private showing if interested. Recently, we’ve seen more open houses but we still see limited showings along with the standard use of facemasks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and disposable gloves.
One major thing that happened this past year was a lot of people started working from home. If your job wasn’t seen as essential, it was time to grab your laptop and create an office at home. So, what did this mean for the real estate industry? For many, people needed more space at home. Between adults needing office space and kids doing online schooling, more workspace was a necessity. This meant upgrading to a bigger home or investing in a home remodel. Outdoor upgrades were also very popular to offer people outside space in a safe way: a new playset for the kids and a hot tub for the parents, if they’re lucky!
With people having more flexibility with remote working, this meant some people downsized. All you need for remote work is a laptop and wifi. This also means people don’t have to work in their actual home. They have the flexibility to travel and work from almost anywhere. As our agent, Tiffany Malone puts it, “Why not open your laptop and work on the beach or in a cabin!”
Real estate is largely built on bonding with clients to help understand their needs and find them the right home. Since Covid has pushed a majority of real estate activities online, those bonds can be lost. Attending a closing through a video call doesn’t always give the same feeling as it would in person.
Agent April Johnson just had her first in-person closing recently since the pandemic started, “I’ve missed that happy moment with my clients!” Hopefully, there will be more moments like this soon for agents and clients alike.
Covid has changed our world, and especially the real estate industry. It has given us many struggles, but we have persevered and kept moving. We are thankful that the industry continues to grow and our company has stayed strong through it all.