The coronavirus pandemic has forced local real estate agents to get creative with buying and selling homes for their clients. While in-person viewings are mostly on pause, agents are arranging virtual walk-throughs and championing historically low interest rates to keep the real estate market afloat. We reached out to four agents/brokers for their thoughts on how the local market is faring under the stay-at-home order.
Carolyn Calloway, Agent, Harry Norman Realtors, Buckhead Office
“Spring is traditionally the busiest time of year for Realtors, but during this time of mandated ‘social distancing’, we’ve had to adopt some creative ways to work with our clients. Today’s technology provides options for us to show homes via Facetime or virtual tours. Real estate closings continue to take place in attorney offices, but often with the Realtors attending virtually. There are clients that need to buy or sell immediately, and we are still able to work with them, just in a different way as we comply with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines. It’s definitely a team effort working with our fellow Realtors, brokers, office staff, lenders, photographers and home inspectors…all taking great care to follow those safety measures set forth to keep us all safe and healthy. We are looking ahead to a great spring market with new listings added to our currently low inventory and buyers taking advantage of the lower interest rates…. just a little later than usual.”
Michael Gaddy, Agent, M&M Group, Compass Real Estate
“We’ve experienced a mixed bag so far. It seems most buyers are waiting to see how this unfolds. We had a $2 million custom build fall apart at the last minute last week. I suspect once this tsunami of confusion passes over we’ll pick back up right where we left off. We have a few homes we’re about to list and are dragging our feet a bit for the same reasons. Overall it’s gotten fairly quiet. More fringe marketing tools, like video tours, are reemerging to show sellers that the agent is still making an effort and being creative but, in the end, who’s going to spend several hundred thousand dollars on a home they never stepped foot in? Sellers are nervous about strangers coming into their homes so things have fairly much stopped for a bit. I’ve even had some of my contractors say they are shutting down for a couple weeks and then will re-evaluate. Time will tell.”
Kelly Stephens, Managing Broker, Engel & Volkers Buckhead Atlanta and Atlanta North Fulton
“The COVID-19 outbreak is causing all industries to rethink how they do business, and the home buying/selling industry is no exception. The message to consumers is confusing. On the one hand, mortgage rates are at historic lows, making this an ideal time to lock in a mortgage for a new home purchase. Lower mortgage rates encourage more buyers to enter the market and more sellers to list their homes. But these are not normal times.
“Yes, mortgage rates are lower, but during what should be a robust time for home sales, we are all being encouraged to limit contact with others and stay at home as much as possible. As real estate advisors, we must quickly adapt to this ‘new normal’ to help our clients successfully buy or sell a home, as well as complete the home-buying process if they are in the midst of this important decision. Thankfully, we have the technology to make this work. At Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta and Engel & Völkers Atlanta North Fulton, we are working with our clients to make full use of video call platforms to “meet” with our clients and to virtually tour homes together. For sellers, we are working with them to create compelling, informative video home tours that can easily be accessed online by a potential buyer. For buyers, we can review online home videos in conference with them to discuss pros and cons of each home’s benefits. To limit person-to-person contact, our advisors can visit homes alone, walking through them on behalf of our clients, showcasing the home’s features electronically in real time and answering questions.”
Harvin Greene, Agent, Dorsey Alston Realtors
“At the beginning of March, the Atlanta real estate market was moving full steam ahead and this spring market was shaping up to be the best year in recent history. Inventory levels were low fueling strong buyer demand and pushing prices higher. Coupling that with historically low interest rates, homes that were well positioned and priced right were selling quickly at close to and even above asking price.
“With the outbreak of the coronavirus and recent shelter-in-place restrictions placed in Metro Atlanta, we are seeing a slowdown of buyer traffic, but definitely not a standstill. During this time we are ramping up our virtual marketing activities by sending digital marketing brochures to prospective buyers, sharing video walk-throughs of our listings, and meeting with buyers and sellers via video conference apps like Facetime and Zoom. For in-person showings of our listings, we have implemented a plan to help prevent the spread of the virus. We are driving separately from our clients, staying a safe distance away, and making sure that all doors are open and lights are on in the house to prevent any need for contact within the home.
“While this is definitely having an effect on the market, specifically how many days a home is listed and the low levels of inventory, we are not seeing it reflected in the values and do not anticipate that it will. We are confident in the fundamentals of the residential real estate market in Atlanta and expect it to rebound quickly once the above mentioned restrictions are lifted.”