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Housing sector adjusts to new normal caused by COVID-19

North Carolina, together with the rest of the world, is now hunkering down at home as efforts to keep the COVID-19 pandemic at bay are now in effect. Gov. Roy Cooper decided to extend the state lockdown up to May 8, and many other areas of the country may be headed the same way.

With all these developments regarding this modern-day pandemic, people are wondering how the housing sector, especially in Charlotte and the Triad area, is holding up and how it would look like once people emerge from their state-imposed isolation.

Real estate jobs considered “non-essential”

The alarming medical situation brought about by this novel coronavirus is taking a toll on most economies. Jobs are now categorized as “essential” and “non-essential.” Only essential workers can move around and conduct business during this time while everyone else works from home.

While the real estate sector is among the industries categorized as non-essential, this situation has not totally crippled it. Real estate firms and affiliated industries immediately managed to adapt to it. Since this sector has already been taking advantage of digital technology in several stages of a real estate transaction, all they had to do was to further maximize the tools that this venue has provided to them.

Making the shift to the digital and virtual world

With shelter-in-place orders rendering open houses and home viewings almost impossible, virtual walkthroughs allow clients to see every detail of a home they fancy and to have their questions answered on the spot. They can even request to have drawers opened or to look inside a sink’s water closet. However, it’s the agent conducting these virtual tours who needs to observe safety precautions. Short of wearing hazmat suits, they apply the rules on social distancing and contactless visits to assure they and the home sellers do not risk infection.

Closing a transaction safely, virtually

Closing a deal in a real estate transaction usually entails the involvement of warm bodies and face-to-face interaction. However, several adjustments had to be made to keep the transaction going in the midst of a pandemic:

  • Some home inspectors have resorted to wearing full hazmat suits to an inspection. Results of these inspections are now given via email.
  • With the recent approval of virtual notarization and signatures, shuffling legal documents and signing these have also become contactless.
  • Financial institutions are also adapting to the situation by learning to do mortgage appraisals and approvals through video calls and email.
  • Lockboxes are becoming crucial in conducting a contactless turnover of keys to a homebuyer’s new home.

What to expect post-pandemic

The real estate market remains steadfast even in this crisis. In fact, reports that the initial shock of the coronavirus scare is slowly wearing off. On the national scale, home sales saw a definite 13% year-on-year rise as of April 13, based on statistics gathered by Zillow.

Thus, while spring season home buying and selling were shot down by the enforcement of stay-at-home measures to protect against the coronavirus, all eyes are now set toward summer and fall as people take advantage of the various opportunities opened by the pandemic. With the Feds cutting interest rates and mortgages running at all-time lows, demand is expected to rise, albeit, on a more subdued note. Unemployment and pay cuts among those still employed could still water down the excitement.

Expect the Valarie R. Brooks Real Estate Team to keep you in the know with regard to Charlotte, NC real estate as the world surges on in its battle vs. COVID-19. Call us at 704.488.5458 or send an email to Valarie(at)ValarieRBrooks(dotted)com.