Although May was a rough period for real estate companies all over Greater Houston, things have started to look up these past two months. In fact, home sales have increased, even surpassing sales in …
Although May was a rough period for real estate companies all over Greater Houston, things have started to look up these past two months. In fact, home sales have increased, even surpassing sales in 2019 by at least 1,000, said a Houston Association of Realtors press release. HAR Vice Chair, Jennifer Wauhob, attributes this sudden growth to COVID-19, saying families have more time to consider moving and social distancing at home has led families to believe they need more space.
“First of all, interest rates are really low so if you're looking to buy a home and you weren't affected negatively then by all means it's still a great time to buy. And I think also being forced to be at home more. It's probably made some people realize "yeah we really do need more space" … or maybe they were thinking of moving this year anyway, Wauhob said. “When all the other distractions were taken away, people have more time on their hands to do it.”
Single family homes priced between $250,000 and $500,000 have seen the highest demand with a 28.3% jump year-over-year, according to data from HAR, with single family homes between $500,000 and $750,000 coming in second.
“Houses aren’t staying on the market any longer than fourteen days at this point. The housing market just skyrocketed due to COVID,” Katy-area realtor, Mary Synder, said. She and her husband, Brandon Snyder, work with Keller Williams Premier Realty and have worked to use social media platforms to promote their Selling With the Snyders brand.
The only problem the real estate market seems to be having is inventory, Brandon said.
“There’s less homes hitting the market but our home sales are actually higher. We’re desperate for inventory. That’s one of the biggest things. Plenty of buyers but less homes hitting the market which is why you’re seeing such a short turnaround time on homes,” Brandon said.
Even though COVID-19 hasn’t caused a negative effect on the real estate market, it has definitely sparked some changes. Ranging from virtual home showings to Zoom meetings with clients, realtors have had to navigate through new online tools.
“Anything we’d normally discuss in-person, we’ve had to do virtually. Which makes it kind of hard in real estate to be personal with your clients when you can’t be with them,” Mary said.
Depending on the seller, most potential buyers must view a home virtually whether that be through Facetime or videos realtors send to buyers, said Wauhob. If a seller does allow in-person showings, buyers must wear masks, social distance, and sometimes sign a disclosure agreement.
“We still see a lot of people who are looking in person and just taking precautions. We have a sort of disclosure now that we have people sign stating whether they've been exposed or if they're feeling bad before they see a home,” Wauhob said. “We (also) have virtual open houses, 3-D Matterport tours available for homes, and we're doing a lot of virtual showings as well where we're on Facetime or sending video walk-throughs to our clients who can't physically walk through the home,” Wauhob said.
Unfortunately, virtual showings seem to work less effectively than an in-person showing and which can be frustrating for realtors.
“The virtual open houses haven’t really proven to be a big success,” Brandon said. “You don’t get the same type of traction that you would normally. (With) a good open house weekend, you get five, six, seven families come through on a listing but with these virtual open houses, you’re lucky if you get one or two people to watch it for longer than five minutes.”
Regardless of the frustration of digital interactions, HAR expects the real estate market will hold steady for these next few months and continue to increase in sales, Wauhob said. With the way things are looking right now, the market appears to be steady.
“None of us have really been through a global pandemic so I don't know if there's going to be residual effects down the line, but everything we see right now is just indicating a pretty strong real estate market all the way through the end of 2020,” Wauhob said.