The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of America, and the real estate field is no exception.
Carol Ray, broker/Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Michigan Home Services in Fenton, said it’s been a big disruption for the real estate field.
“We are no longer able to show homes and we’re not able to show properties, so that makes it much harder for buyers to buy a home,” she said. “Sellers are reluctant to put homes on the market because no one can see it.”
As of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest orders Friday, April 10, home inspections can take place. If there’s an accepted purchase agreement, then the buyer can go with the inspector to view the property.
“It’s really tough. The governor has been tough on Michigan with this for a good reason, of course,” she said. “It’s had a huge effect on full-time agents making their full income from real estate.”
She said there are agents who are not following state orders, and are having showings anyway. This puts rule-following agents at a disadvantage. They also can’t get photographers to the properties to take photos.
Ray said some agents are doing virtual showings and meetings through Zoom.
“Virtual tours have come a long way. You can navigate the house by yourself. You can even get room measurements while doing it,” she said. “It’s just not the same.”
Ray expressed doubt that many people will buy a house without seeing it in person first.
She expects a “crazy” market once the pandemic is over and the “stay home” order is lifted.
“I have people waiting to put houses on the market,” she said, adding that she’s not sure if home values will go up or down. “Right now, I think the values are stabilizing or will go up a little. It’ll still be a good market for real estate. It will not be near the bust we had in 2007, 2008.”
Ken Brant of Brant & Associates Real Estate in Fenton said he and others in the real estate business were disappointed that they were not considered essential. Despite the Fenton area and its exciting economic growth, those in his industry cannot do too much right now. They are available for questions and guidance to buyers and sellers.
Brant said buyers and sellers who were already in the transaction process can complete that closing process and people can move.
“It will be interesting to see,” he said. “We’re sitting in limbo and supporting our agents.
“It will get really crazy once everyone is healthy and we can maneuver the roads again.
“Buyers will be as excited as ever.”
Brant says listings overall are down 40 percent from a year ago. When things start moving again, it will be a challenge with so many layers, and things beyond their control, affecting the real estate business. “But, we’re here for them,” he said.
Patrik Welty of Legacy Realty in Fenton said they’re “just about completely stopped” from doing any work at all.
“The only thing legal that we can do is currently stay at home, work from home and handle things electronically,” he said. “Fortunately, the Governor clarified her executive order to allow other parties who are involved in the transaction to do their jobs.”
That includes home inspectors, appraisers and title insurance companies. They are allowed to complete transactions that began before the pandemic and the “stay home” order.
“The challenging side for both buyers and sellers is that people can’t leave their homes to go look at houses,” he said. “We basically can’t do anything to generate new business in our industry. Our only option is some sort of virtual tour.”
Welty said the majority of the public would probably not buy a house based on a virtual tour.
“Essentially, we’re at a standstill. Every aspect of the transaction has been affected,” he said.
Due to the drastic rise in unemployment, Welty said, fewer people will be able to buy a house after the pandemic.
“It’s not going to permanently affect people’s ability to buy or sell their home, but it will delay buyers. We may have introduced a different set of potential sellers for small and medium sized business owners who, because of the dramatic change in economic circumstances, might need to sell assets they didn’t plan on selling,” he said.
Welty anticipates some sort of recession. He also expects to see a decrease in high-end purchases in the real estate market, though affordable options will remain.
“We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of our market so that we can help our customers who need to buy and sell a home,” he said.