Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 20, 2020

Hot real estate market must now contend with COVID-19

As we progressed through February, the actual and expected impacts of COVID-19 continued to grow, with concerns of economic impact reaching the stock market in the last week of the month.

As the stock market dropped, so did mortgage rates, offering a bad news-good news situation for those looking to buy a home and perhaps refinance. While short term declines in the stock market can sting, borrowers who lock in today’s low rates look to benefit significantly in the long term.

Recently market statistics show a 20.2% year-to-year increase in showing traffic nationwide. All regions of the country increased showing by double digits compared to the year before, with the Midwest region (15.7%) and the West (34.1%) showing the biggest gains.

With showing activity a leading indicator for future home sales, the 2020 housing market is off to a strong start, though it will be important to watch the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impact on the overall economy in the coming months.

In the greater Chattanooga area, new listings increased 2.3% to 1,033, pending sales were up 12.1% to 938, and inventory levels shrank 21.6% to 2,175 units.

Prices also continued to gain traction, with the median sales price increasing 18.7% to $216,000.

Days on market was up 5.3% to 60 days, while sellers were encouraged as months supply of inventory was down 30.3% to 2.3 months.

 Markets might change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients does not. Our fiduciary duty goes beyond serving clients – it’s also to serve the community.

In light of the rapidly evolving situation due to COVID-19, we can do our part and embrace alternate ways of conducting business. Also, it’s imperative we discuss the current environment with our clients and look out for everyone’s best interest.

If you’re riding together in the same vehicle for showings, frequently sanitize surfaces such as door handles and seat belt latches, and ask clients to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car.

Discuss with the client alternate methods for viewing properties, including recorded virtual tours and Facetime showings.

Ultimately, it’s up to the seller to allow or decline to do in-person showings, and if they move forward with them, to decide what measures should be taken at their property. These could include sanitizing door handles and other surfaces, removing shoes or wearing booties, maintaining a safe person-to-person distance and more.

We must also discuss the pros and cons of open houses and assess the risk based on information from local and state health authorities.

Just like with one-on-one showings, there are alternative technologies for marketing opportunities.

Some markets have eliminated open houses for now.

If you continue with an open house, require all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the property, limit the number of people in the home at one time, and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway and disposable towels in the bathrooms for after handwashing.

After an open house, it’s also a good idea for the seller to clean and disinfect their home, especially doorknobs and faucet handles and other commonly touched areas.

These are uncharted times for the real estate industry, and we all can do our part to embrace alternate methods for doing business to help prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Navigating a market that can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is important. We keep a watchful eye on trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R.