Wanting to buy or sell… Local realtor says market still strong 

Published 12:57 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

For those who are on the market to buy or sell a home, the good news is that the local housing market has continued its strong presence despite all the adversity surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic according to local ReMax Realtor Sherree Holt who has been in the realtor business for 25 years, the last five with ReMax.
As one can imagine, the only real concern for those selling their homes is allowing perfect strangers into their homes as everyone is trying to take precautions against coming in contact with the COVID-19.
Sellers are hesitant to list their homes due to potential buyers entering their homes who may have come in contact with COVID-19,” Holt said about the reaction from those looking to sell their home.
“But in reversal, buyers are hesitant to go view homes. Unfortunately, the market has been short on listings for over a year and the COVID 19 pandemic has caused an even greater shortage.”
Everything was standing pretty at the first of 2020 as the nation saw a very low unemployment rate and mortgage rates were very rewarding for those who looked to purchase a new home.
Fast-forward four months and with the job market being turned upside down due to the pandemic, those looking to buy were impacted reducing the number of financial opportunities available to purchase.
Holt was asked what the long-range forecast for housing was looking like from the National Board of Realtor’s viewpoint.
“At the beginning of the year, we had a strong job market and low mortgage rates which would sustain the housing market in 2020,” Holt commented. “Every indication showed that we were headed into another strong market.
“But the problem was going to be finding enough homes for buyers. Homeowners are staying put longer so that made listings scarce. The rates were still record-low and unemployment was the lowest it had been in 50 years.
“We don’t have enough listings for buyers,” Holt continued. “Many buyers who had prepared themselves to buy a home can no longer buy because they have lost their jobs or have been cut to part-time and now they can’t get approval for a home loan.
“We have actually seen buyers have an accepted offer, appraisal and inspections finalized, and were scheduled to close and at the last minute, the buyers lost their job and are no longer approved for the loan.”
One good thing for sellers is that with the shortage of houses, there is a very good chance that once listed that the home will sell quickly and possibly bring a price that exceeds the asking price.
Holt has experienced this first-hand just recently with one of her listings.
“I don’t think any of us can predict the future due to the pandemic but there are still buyers searching the market and are hoping to buy a home,” Holt added. “Just a few days ago, I listed a house and it had five showings scheduled within eight hours of being on the market.
“The home sold to the first buyer for more than list price. There were two families who viewed the home and I received two offers. The Sellers canceled the last three showings because they received a great offer and they were very hesitant to continue to allow buyers to come through the home due to the scare of COVID-19.
“NAR (National Association of Realtors) stresses safety first. We as Realtors are doing everything possible to have a safe market for both, buyers and sellers.
“With more people being home, there is more online traffic so we are being taught to use online tools such as virtual transactions from listing to close, virtual open houses, digital ads, use social media more for advertising and we use zoom accounts to talk to our clients face to face.”
Holt like many others that are currently on the job as essential workers has made changes to the way she shows homes to prospective buyers as she not only has to think of her clients and customers, she must think about her spouse, children, and grandchildren to ensure that she isn’t bringing anything home to them.
“I will continue to show houses since we are an essential business,” Holt commented. “I have adapted as an agent to keep myself and family safe and of course, keep my buyers and sellers safe as well.
“I keep on hand extra masks and gloves in case my buyers or sellers don’t have them. I discuss with the clients prior to showings the importance of masking and wearing gloves.
“If the home is occupied the sellers may ask us not to touch anything such as doors, drawers,” Holt continued. “I have shown homes where sellers ask to remove our shoes before entering. A lot of the sellers are preparing their home for the buyers showing by opening doors and drawers before buyers arrive.”
Holt does see a great challenge for the local market after things try to get back on a normal footing with as many people whose jobs have been eliminated or either furloughed for a period of time.
“We are already seeing buyers struggling and some buyers aren’t able to buy due to loss of employment. Most Mortgage Industries require a buyer to be employed for two years. Obviously, that is going to hinder a lot of buyers unless the industry will change regulations and the buyers can get back to work soon,” said Holt.
Anyone that has ever done business with Holt knows her to be honest and ethical in her dealings with her clients.
With that being said, Holt was asked what she would advise anyone who might be considering the option of either buying or selling a home in the current state in regards to the housing market.
“I would first ask someone how soon do you want to list and do you have a plan B to move quickly,” Holt stated. “If homes are priced by market sales for the past year, the home sells quick.
“When I have a buyer contact me to help them purchase a home I make sure they have all the tools in place to write a contract as quickly as possible. I make sure they are pre-approved and I have a copy of their letter to pass along to the seller with the initial offer.
“I inform my buyers of the hot market (scarce listings) and most likely there will be multiple offers, so the buyers need to make their highest and best offer.”
Even with a strong market, Holt felt that just as in so many other businesses there will be Realtors impacted to the point that they may even have to go out of business due to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, I believe it will,” Holt said. “The word recession is floating around and it certainly scares everyone to a degree but we are independent contractors and we have to depend on clients to make our business successful.
“The pandemic has caused Realtors to think differently. I made it through the 2001 Terrorist Attacks and the Recession in 2008. It was a hard market but we as independent contractors must brainstorm new ways to sell homes in a no-touch world for the time being.
“Regardless of the market people still need housing.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox