It is definitely not business as usual, but REALTORS® are innovative. They are adapting to representing clients during these upside-down times. With current safer-at-home orders and other COIVID-19 driven situations, REALTORS® are redefining how they do business while striving to maintain the health and safety of everyone involved. That is good news for the housing industry and the local economy.
It is good news because not only does the real estate industry help provide homes for thousands of local residents, it also creates a lot of jobs and job opportunities. Real estate is a massive driver of the local economy. Last year residential and commercial real estate sales totaled a little over $2 billion, and that is not counting the multipliers each transaction creates.
No one expects to see the booming sales reports that have become a local staple for the past four years. Do not expect an immediate dramatic drop in the numbers from last month, because it will be April and May before the full effects show up.
Before Monday’s safer-at-home orders, local firms were reporting brisk business – even while REALTORS® were donning protective gear and working on their virtual tour skills. There are examples of REALTORS® and buyers putting on gloves and taking off their shoes before touring homes. Now, it looks like virtual tours will become the norm for all buyers, not just the ones relocating from out of town. It is all about demonstrating the commitment real estate professionals have toward their profession and their clients’ safety during these trying times.
The safer-at-home order brings some additional restrictions, but with real estate declared an essential industry, “not-as-usual” business will continue. REALTORS® are leading the way in adapting and applying new safety standards.
Nationwide the mortgage application volume fell 29% in the latter part of March, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That is a sign that some buyers will hold off until there is a slowdown of COVID-19 cases. The fact that jobless claims in March rose 1,346% in Tennessee will slow – but not stop – buyer interest and market activity. At the same time, it means a less competitive market that will incentivize aggressive buyers and investors. There is also the reality that a decrease in buyer activity will become pent-up demand waiting for the right conditions to release it.
Another thing to keep in mind is all markets will not be affected the same way. So, do not invest too much in the national headlines. The real estate industry is, by nature, hyper-local. The local market has also historically been more resilient than some other markets. Conditions can and do vary widely from community to community here in the Tri-Cities. Getting the latest information is like trying to drink from a fire hose. What is happening to sales or prices in the nation’s big metro markets are not representative of local conditions.
While COVID-19 exerts its effect on our lives and the nation’s economy, rest assured that REALTORS® will continue refining the real estate business methods under even the most trying conditions. Do not be surprised if some of the innovations developing today become staples after things get back to normal.
NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee is the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee. It represents over 1,300 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, monthly Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics are available on the NETAR website at https://netar.us/voice-real-estate-northeast-tennessee.