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Real estate surviving chaos

How coronavirus is impacting the housing market, and what to do about it

22 May, 2020

Since March, the coronavirus has made a huge impact on the real estate industry. As a real estate professional, I am amazed how my colleagues continue to develop new strategies and processes to maintain, engage, and attract clients. It’s a changed world out there—and to stay afloat in our industry during a time of crisis, real estate professionals have to be creative, smart, and informed.

Real Estate Before COVID-19

Before COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, the real estate industry was getting ready for the Spring market. When the community starts to bloom again, the housing market follows. Unfortunately, with the virus spreading fast and the communities coming to a halt—the real estate market followed. According to a curbed.com article written by author, Jeff Andrews, “The most recent housing market data has already shown signs of this playing out in the United States. Web traffic to real estate portals like Zillow and Redfin dropped by almost 40 percent in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. New listings of homes for sale initially dropped by as much as 70 percent in some markets like New York and East Bay, California.”

Right now with coronavirus and real estate, buyers and sellers are trying to figure out the best ways to move forward. Currently, there are record-low interest rates, so more people are applying for mortgages. However, the great rates are only going to help out people with awesome credit scores. Because of so much unemployment throughout the country, lenders have had to really increase loan restrictions. A recent Gallup poll shows that 50% of Americans believe it’s a good time to buy a home. That’s pretty low. According to Gallup, it’s the lowest they have seen since 2006.

Making the Best of the Times:

The good news is, May is here, and we are starting to see more states move into phase 1 and government restrictions being lifted. But what does this mean for the coronavirus and real estate market? Believe it or not, despite the unique situation we find ourselves in, people are still buying and selling homes. It may not be as high as the normal Spring markets, but inventory is moving. This is partly because real estate professionals are getting creative. Here are some ways I’ve personally seen colleagues turning these times into an opportunity.

Mike Garvey, a leading realtor at Blackwell Real Estate, sends out weekly quarantine emails to all his contacts. The emails contain fun activities people can do from home during the week ahead. Jennifer Yeatts, a realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, has been posting virtual house tours on her Facebook page for her contacts to see and share. And at Velocity Title, we’ve made sure our clients are still able to close on their homes—even if it means drive-by settlements!

There’s a lot we can do to still engage and attract clients. Here are some tips to keep your business growing in the midst of the pandemic:

1. Remain calm, and share that mindset:
Buyers and sellers are still out there. They want to know that things are ok, and others are in the same boat as them. This is an opportunity for you to project a sense of calm and confidence for them. Write a blog post or email sharing a recent sale you helped close and how smooth it went. Tell your contacts about options for closings at a distance, and how the real estate community is making it work in spite of the virus.

2. Use this time to work on your relationships:
Have you wanted to start a new marketing campaign, reach out to some contacts you haven’t heard from in a while, or create a Facebook group? Now’s the time. This is the perfect time to work on contact maintenance. Start a weekly email with an encouraging message, or offer real estate advice to other colleagues in forums on LinkedIn.

3. Don’t be afraid of going virtual:
A lot of buyers are watching the virtual tours more than ever—and for good reason. Be ahead of the game and work on your camera and technology skills, maybe even add some music, to make the tour that much better. And remember, if you really have an interested buyer, a lot of places are now allowing you to do in-person tours, just make sure you’re following the recommended safety guidelines.

In the midst of growing your business, remember to stay informed as well. The National Association of Realtors released, “Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS®,” on May 18. This is a great resource that covers many topics and questions we are concerned about when it comes to coronavirus and real estate right now.

As we move into the summer months—and less restrictions—the housing market may begin to bounce back. Until then, make the best of this time and remember we are all in this together. To learn more about how Velocity Title is helping clients continue to move forward during this pandemic, click here.

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