There is no doubt that COVID-19 has not only affected the real estate market but also how Realtors® are conducting business with the new social distancing guidelines. With the Governor’s order on March 25th, real estate and affiliated services were considered life-sustaining, or essential businesses. However, these groups are expected to practice by the established social distancing and hygiene guidelines set forth in the order. To meet these expectations, Realtors® are working from home as much as possible and limiting in-person activities to the absolute minimum.
We asked an expert to explain how COVID-19 has changed home buying in central Kentucky... and whether it’s the right time for you to enter the market.
Fortunately, with today’s technology, they can deliver most of their services from a home office rather than in the field. They are utilizing digital platforms to send documents to clients and digital signatures for contracts. Many are conducting video meetings and digital presentations to clients with programs like Zoom and Facetime. Some brokerages and agents are investing in 3D imaging and virtual reality where buyers can walk through a house and see all the details without physically touring the home.
In regards to the market, real estate sales in January and February were at record levels across all counties in LBAR’s jurisdiction. Sales in March were up year-over-year by 4 percent, but somewhat slower from the start of the year. Because of the demand and low inventory, prices have remained solidly strong, increasing 13% in March from the same time last year.
Year-to-date, new listings are down around 6% although this trend was happening before the pandemic and we’re starting to see a few less homes go under contract as we look at the weekly data. Before the pandemic and the shutdown occurred, the economy was on solid footing and the real estate market was on a record pace.
Through the crisis, housing demand in the region remains strong but with social distancing and hygiene guidelines in place, foot traffic to properties and in person showings have slowed. It is predicted that sales may decline through the spring season because of the unique economic and social consequences we are facing. Once society is able to return to a normal state, however, we anticipate that the market will rebound due to pent up demand. This may mean that we may see a stronger market than usual in the fall months instead of what is typically the case during the spring and summer. Prices should also remain stable throughout this period and sales, if inventory levels can keep up, will get a boost as well once the stay at home orders are lifted.
Despite all that’s going on in the world, it remains a good time to list your home for sale. Lots of people need to buy and lots of people need to sell – and Realtors® are here to help folks be Healthy at Home. If you are planning to be in the market, now is a good time to start your online property search or to find a Realtor® to get the home buying or selling process underway. LBAR has resources to assist with lbar.com and a newly released app, Homesnap.
In closing Realtors® are a proud part of #TeamKentucky and are appreciative of the work our health care professionals, first responders and government officials are doing to keep us safe. We all have to do our part and Kentucky can count on Realtors® to do ours.
Greg Buchanan, President of LBAR Board of Directors