What Real Estate Can Expect Now and After COVID-19

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of REALTORS®, recently joined Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers for an exclusive discussion about the impacts of COVID-19 on real estate.

Below are highlights of my conversation with him. They provide insight into what the industry can expect, according to the data Yun has gathered.

Jobs and the Economy

The current sharp rise in unemployment claims we’re seeing is expected to be followed by large numbers of people returning to their jobs once government-imposed economic shutdowns end. We may not return to the full pre-COVID-19 employment, but the vast majority will go back to their jobs. This, in turn, will positively impact the third and fourth quarters. That is when the economy’s bounce-back will be evident. 

Foreclosures and Home Inventory

A foreclosure crisis is not expected. Before the pandemic, buyers met the credit standards to buy a home, so there was no overstretching of their budgets.

The increase in home sales that we were experiencing pre-pandemic was a 10-year high. Home prices also reached an all-time high. However, it will take multiple years to resolve the housing shortage created when building dramatically declined after the housing crisis of 2008-2012. 

Even though there are currently fewer listings than before, we went into the pandemic with low inventory and will come out of the pandemic with low inventory. Consumers still need more choices for the mid-price point and slightly below.

Buyer and Seller Thought Processes

Now that the stimulus package is active, consumers are not as nervous. In many places, people are being cautious about social distancing and health guidelines but are still moving forward with their buying or selling plans. Many buyers are doing multiple virtual home tours before going on a physical visit. Those who still aren’t ready to buy are saving their money in preparation for the economy reopening. 

NAR also surveyed roughly 3,500 Realtors and found that home sellers are not panicking. Some are merely holding the listing until the economy is back on track. Sellers are not dropping their prices either. They are aware that this is a temporary situation.

Realtors working with buyer clients see some of them say they would like to wait until the economy reopens or don’t want to continue looking to comply with government shelter-in-place orders (though it is possible to abide by those orders and still tour homes). Clients who want to look are not making offers with deep discounts either.

Even though individuals are still buying and selling, we are missing out on the spring buying season and may not fully recover it in the autumn. The good news is that we may have more activity this year in autumn and winter months than compared to the traditional amount of activity.

What Agents Can Do

Continue to build relationships. Reach out to past clients. Some may have been financially impacted and can take advantage of mortgage forbearance. Keep working with customers that need your assistance now.

 Craig McClelland is vice president and COO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers (metrobrokers.com) in Georgia. The family-owned and operated business have 27 offices and 2,500-plus highly trained sales associates throughout metro Atlanta and north Georgia.