We have been receiving many questions from clients regarding the real estate market; asking what’s going on and what we expect to happen.

When Governor Inslee first introduced the Stay At Home Rules on March 25th all real estate and related activities (appraisals, inspections) were ceased. That held in place until the 30th but the rules were amended to allow business to continue to be conducted in a manner which wouldn’t stop the market from functioning but would instill safety controls in the way that it was. Here are the details as to what is currently being allowed:

• In-person activities must be by appointment only;
• No more than two people, including the broker, may be at the property at any one time; and
• Those two persons must strictly follow social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.

NWMLS’s Rules provide that a broker may not leave a third party unattended in a property. Accordingly, brokers must only bring one person at a time into the property.
What in-person real estate brokerage services are now permissible? Provided the above protocols are followed for any permitted in-person activity, real estate brokers may:

• Conduct listing presentations, take photos, and create virtual tours for new listings;
• Facilitate signing of contract documents;
• Preview and show listings by appointment only; and
• Facilitate inspections, appraisals, buyer “walk-throughs,” and key delivery.
Real estate brokers may not:
• Conduct any business outside of their home (with the exception of the above noted activities); or
• Hold an open house.

We have modified rules to work within but are in no way completely shut down from conducting business and the elements necessary to facilitate property listing, showing and sales. GREAT NEWS! The market has already picked up in the past week since these new rules were instituted and there were nearly as many Pending transactions this past week as there were new listings. Those buyers already in the market were back out making moves and I heard from a couple colleagues about multiple offer situations. These are good indicators as to the smoldering heat in the market that was tamped down a bit for a couple weeks but has picked right up with the real estate rules the governor implemented.

Our continuing thought about the market and where it will go is that while I expect a slight slowdown from some buyers exiting the market due to employment concerns, those that do not have the same concerns will continue to be out looking to buy this spring. We may not get the typical spring hot season we have come to expect but the early indicators are not bad at all. In fact a lower number of buyers in the starting/first time buyer price points may actually be somewhat helpful in lessening the extreme competition we’ve had for those lately.

By lowering demand some that would also enable move up buyers who haven’t wanted to enter the market due to not feeling that they can make a contingent offer able to do so again. If we end up with a demand/inventory in the 2-4 month range again that would actually make for a very healthy market where there are opportunities for everyone. That would potentially slow up the huge price gains we’ve seen recently although I think we’d all be quite happy with a healthy, balanced market between buyers and sellers with 5% gains year over year.

One big thing that we keep hearing about is people assuming that the corona virus impact will crash the housing market ala 2008-2010. That is likely not the case for a couple reasons: The crash at that time was a collapse of the financial and banking industry due to mortgages and housing. Housing and values at the time were pushed up by rampant speculation and mortgage products not built on solid elements (down payments, good credit, verifiable income). That is quite different than our current market whose values have gone up based upon supply/demand while borrowers have been fully qualified with conservative lending. Yes, employment will definitely factor in and is likely to cause mortgage lates and potential foreclosures however that is likely to be more spread out and also alleviated by rescue programs specific to the disaster nature of the corona virus impact. We think we’re going to quickly get a gauge on things over the next couple months but until we see otherwise we view what’s likely to happen as different than 2008’s events because of the nature of them and the causes.

 

Stay tuned for more input and updates about market conditions throughout the month as we get further into this new normal. If you have any questions about your home’s market value, current interest rates or the opportunities that may be available for you in the market please reach out to us and we're happy to provide you with our thoughts and expertise.