Lauren Bunting

(March 27, 2020) According to the National Association of Realtors, February home sales surged 7.2 percent year-over-year, hitting a pace of 5.77 million, and home prices rose 8 percent – both encouraging figures for spring.

Now as the coronavirus pandemic progresses, real estate is having to adjust to keep business moving forward.

Because forecasting the pandemic effects and length are difficult, forecasting the impact on the housing industry is difficult.

“These figures show that housing was on a positive trajectory, but the coronavirus has undoubtedly slowed buyer traffic and it is difficult to predict what short-term effects the pandemic will have on future sales,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, said. “There will be a major fluctuation in some [home sales] data. Whatever is missed out on for a couple of months will come up strongly with a rebound in autumn, provided that this situation is of short duration and the stimulus package provides for lost income. That would be the best-case scenario.”

Brokers and agents are using technology and providing creative solutions to keep buyers and sellers engaged. Office meetings are being held remotely using online video resources such as Zoom, GoToMeeting and JoinMe. And, agents are looking to options such as virtual showings utilizing FaceTime and computer-generated tours.

Furthermore, the multiple list service, BrightMLS, is implementing changes to allow for easier access to virtual tours for those shopping online.

To provide another showing option for clients and their agents currently uncomfortable with in-person exposure, they are temporarily allowing for the promotion of virtual/online showings within the public remarks/notes of a listing. They are also working on a special market report to help agents see what is happening in the market in terms of listings and showings.

Also noteworthy, the Federal Housing Finance Agency enacted an eviction and foreclosure moratorium, in effect for 60 days effective March 18.

- Lauren Bunting is a licensed Associate Broker with Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty in Ocean City, Maryland.

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