As of today (August 19, 2020), we have officially hit 90 days back in business. Our local real estate market effectively shut down in late March and there was hardly any new activity during April or May. The only deals that closed were the ones already in process. Otherwise, there wasn’t much else we could do other than prepare as much as possible for when the market was back open.
If you’ve been following The Cyr Team Blog, then you will know some of the things that we expected to happen once we were allowed to conduct business again. Some of these predictions definitely came true. Some didn’t exactly pan out as we thought. In this article, we want to look at our expectations versus reality now that we are 90 days in.
We’ve always strived to stay ahead of technological trends and use technology to make our real estate business more effective. We were quite prepared to work remotely and use cutting-edge resources like Zoom and virtual home tours. As expected, we are severely limited by COVID-19 precautions. Open houses are no more. Staging consultations, client meetings and personal home tours are limited as we try to minimize physical contact between parties. Technology has been a huge difference-maker in our ability to stay connected and effectively conduct business in this unique socially distant environment.
Home buyers are relying on photos, videos and 3D virtual tours to conduct home searches without being able to see as many properties in person. They may only be able to schedule one home tour once during the process, so online resources are vital to helping buyers making informed decisions. We have also been able to use video chats to perform personal consultations with buyers, sellers and home stagers.
We have completed one real estate transaction almost entirely virtual for a home seller that was sensitive to coronavirus exposure. We conducted consultations using the technology at hand. We did the listing presentation, staging consultation and even house showings through Zoom. Most of the paperwork was done digitally, and there was very minimal need for physical interaction between us, the buyers, the sellers and the other service providers involved in the sale.
We wish it weren’t this way as we love nothing more than interacting with people, but we are making the most of these unusual circumstances. Through this experience, we are learning that some of this technology may forever change how we conduct certain aspects of real estate transactions. These new processes have allowed our team to be much more efficient as we aren’t driving all around town every single day going from meeting to meeting and showing to showing. We’re able to get more done with our virtual set up and the in-person meetings we do conduct are more effective as everyone wants to make the most of the limited time together.
Before the market reopened, we predicted a hectic “musical chairs” summer as buyers and sellers tried to make their moves quickly. We lost the spring market, which is usually our busiest time of year. Plus, people wanted to get set before fall and winter. This is when the market usually slows down naturally. Plus, nobody is quite sure if there will be more shutdowns later this year as COVID-19 continues to spread.
This condensed summer real estate market is moving faster than we could have ever imagined! The housing inventory remains extremely low, so any homes that are put up for sale are selling quickly. Buyers have a lot of buying power with mortgage rates at all-time lows while sellers are benefitting from rising home prices, quick sales and bidding wars from eager buyers. The demand outweighs the supply as there are more homes going under contract than being put on the market. They are basically selling faster than they can be listed. Our current inventory is less than 6 weeks, when a “normal” market will see 3-4 months of housing inventory. Closed sales are down while prices are up between 4-6%.
During the lockdown, we developed The Cyr Team’s COVID-19 Compliant pledge because we knew that things would be quite different when the market opened back up. It was no secret that business would need to be done differently, with minimal physical contact and fewer opportunities for buyers to see homes in person. We’ve interacted with people who are very concerned about coronavirus exposure and others who are not, but we believe in following the rules that have been put in front of us and we established our own pledge to do things as safely as possible. We want to protect our clients and ourselves the best we can, even if that means making some personal and professional sacrifices for the greater good.
Buyer and Seller Expectations
Home buyers need to take the time to prepare for their move. This includes getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan and really planning out their housing needs. When the time does come to start searching for homes and making offers, you have to be ready to act quickly and also know that you may have to give up some things in the negotiation process. Sellers are definitely in a position of power right now. As a buyer, you may have to make some compromises. Just be careful not to give up too much out of desperation. We highly advise against waiving home inspections. There are other ways to make your purchase offer stand out from the competition.
We originally recommended sellers take the downtime to get their homes ready for the summer real estate market with repairs, paint jobs, upgrades and staging. Those that did take these measures during the slowdown did very well in the reopened market by getting more value out of their sale. Now, just about any home on the market is selling quickly. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to prepare and get maximum value for your property. If you are on the fence about selling, you don’t want to wait around too long. Just be sure and have a sound exit plan. You have to know where you are moving next, whether it’s renting for awhile or being fully prepared for your next home purchase where you will not be in the position of power as a buyer.
We’ve been in the real estate business a long time and we’ve never seen anything like what we are seeing in today’s real estate market. Things are moving so fast because of the low inventory and low mortgage rates, even with all the COVID-19 restrictions in place. Technology is also making it possible to get more done in a shorter amount of time.
If you are thinking of buying or selling your home in Southeastern Pennsylvania or Northern Delaware, contact The Cyr Team today to schedule an introductory virtual consultation. Let us help you navigate this fast-moving market and make smart real estate decisions.