Coronavirus and Real Estate Market Updates

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Updates on The Northern VA Real Estate Market


Update 3/30/2020

Today, Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam issued a stay at home order for Virginians. The order says, in a nutshell, stay at home unless you have a reason to be out.

The previous restrictions on non essential businesses remains. The goal is to slow the spread of the virus. The restrictions are in place until June 10th.

What it Means for Real Estate

Is real estate essential? According to both Department of Homeland Security and the Governor, it absolutely is.

That means that you can still buy, sell and lease housing and I can still help you do so.

Real estate services will continue. Unless a state specifically overrules this, real estate is considered essential. So far, NY is the only state that has said real estate is non-essential.

People still need housing, so the real estate industry will continue. The best real estate professionals are putting in place some new practices.

The emphasis will be more and more on safely showing, negotiating and closing on homes.

If you are not serious about buying right now, and are just in the “research phase” I recommend that you not go to in-person showings.

If you are seriously in the market to buy, only go see homes in person that you are considering writing on offer on. If you are comfortable with a full virtual showing, I can do that as well.

• Virtual showings. I am able to show you your top choices via Facetime or equivalent, or send you a detailed video of strengths and weaknesses of each home.

• Protective gear and disinfecting. As a seller, leave gloves, sanitizer and make sure to keep your home clean after showings. Put a sign out to remind buyers to please not touch any surfaces.

• E-signing offer paperwork. All paperwork can be done virtually to secure your property.

• Virtual earnest money deposit. For buyers, this is much like depositing a check with online banking. You can send in your earnest money deposit electronically to the title company to hold.

• Inspection. For your home inspection, I will attend and the inspector will send you a thorough report on all deficiencies found in the home.

• Remote closing and notarization. Before you are under contract, make sure that your lender and title company are able to perform a fully mobile closing. Then you will not have to go to the title company.

Market Update

Let’s take Fairfax County for example. Last year, in March of 2019, there were about 3,190 new listings put on the market. This Month, there were 2,784 new listings. A decrease, but not a huge one.

The inventory is a different story. The homes currently for sale, 3,332, is 50% lower than this time last year.

The inventory is very low, and April could show that more sellers are not putting their homes on the market. There is also anecdotal reports from agents in surveys that buyers are holding off as well.

However, it is safe to say that there has not yet been a decrease in home prices, or a large drop in number of homes sold. This could come in April, or could not.

Remember, before coronavirus the market in Northern VA was very competitive. So if you need to buy, this could be a good time to find a house with less competition.

If you want to know what you should do in this market, reach out to me and tell me more about your situation.


Update 3/25/2020: On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that some businesses would be forced to close.

However, service businesses like real estate will be allowed to continue to operate. They must maintain social distancing and work remotely wherever possibly.

Other areas of country such as New York have seen real estate showings stop because of how rapidly the virus is spreading and how many are infected.

If you are wondering if you should buy or sell during this time, my answer is yes. Many are still doing so and real estate can be bought and sold by using extra precautions.

The supply (sellers) and demand (buyers) have both seen a decrease according to showing data, my conversations with other agents and surveys done by Realtor associations.

Time will tell if that trend will continue. And be reflected in home values.


Update 3/20/2020. As predicted, more restrictions have come. Some states are requiring for non essential businesses to close.

Real estate has been specifically mentioned as non essential in New York City. But that could change, and Virginia real estate remains open for business of 3/20.


The Coronavirus and the impact from it’ss spread are now being felt across the United States.

There has been a run on supermarkets for food and supplies. Professional and collegiate sports leagues have suspended their seasons.

The US government has imposed travel bans and bans on gathering, with more restrictions likely coming.

On the financial side, the stock market has seen huge losses as investors are fearful of what the future holds.

Since my expertise is in Virginia real estate, this page will be devoted to the health of our real estate market in Northern VA as it reacts to Coronavirus.

I will provide updates as the market changes in the coming weeks and months.

The Coronavirus

The impact that COVID-19, or Coronavirus is having on the world has been devastating. The loss of life we are experiencing is tragic.

Red emergency room sign at Inova hospital in Fairfax, VA. A tan and white tent can be seen in the background where patients can be seen before entering the hospital.
Inova Hospital in Fairfax. Outside of the ER entrance you can see a tent setup for potential Coronavirus patients.

My heart goes out to everyone who has been personally affected or has loved ones who have been affected.

I have been called many things in my life. Doctor is not one. So for more information and updates on the spread of the virus, here is the World Health Organization site.

I will stick to keeping you informed on our real estate market.

Real Estate Market Updates


March 25th, 2020

Congress has passed a stimulus worth 2 trillion that is aimed at helping individuals and business that have been affected by the coronavirus.

On the real estate side, agents are beginning to report that some buyers and sellers are holding off because of Covid-19 according to Virginia Association of Realtors.

But overall the real estate market in Northern VA has not been yet affected like other industries.

More will be revealed as the sales data from March come out.


March 21st, 2020

In a sentence, the real estate market has slightly slowed from the frenzy it was in the beginning of 2020, but we do not know the extent just yet.

The real estate market has stayed strong in Northern VA. But we are seeing some signs of potentially moving away from constant multiple offer situations.

Showings have reportedly seen a drop, as buyers have concerns about the risk of being out.

Many agents and sellers are beginning to offer virtual showings via smartphones or other technology.

I have ceased participating in open houses. Some large real estate companies have now also made policies disallowing agents from holding open houses.

NAR has reported that nearly 50% of real estate agents nationwide have said homebuyer interest has decreased since the virus.

Mortgage rates saw a sharp increase after the demand from refinance clogged the banks.

The other factor coming into play is the volatility in the mortgage rates. Freddie Mac reported that lenders increased prices in response to a huge amount of mortgage demand.

If mortgage rates increase along with a drop in showings, home values will eventually be affected. For how long and when it will start remains to be seen.

If you are thinking of selling, the market is still strongly a sellers market. However soon could be a great time to buy for buyers who go through a large portion of the process remotely.


March 15th, 2020

While the broader economy has been shaken, properties have been seeing a sharp rise in Northern VA over the last couple of months.

Real estate has been hailed as a bright spot in the economy, and our area is no exception.

Home values have shot up as bidding wars have become the norm, with buyers using escalation addendums and waiving contingencies.

It has been a great time to sell, but also a great time if you are buying to try to lock in a low rate.

Before the Coronavirus became a large factor in the US, our market already had a lack of inventory.

As you can see from the chart above, the number of listings in Northern VA have been decreasing since October at an abnormal rate.

This chart covers Fairfax County, Loudon County, Prince William and some other smaller jurisdictions (Fairfax City, Falls Church City, etc.).

Average days to sell went up as is usual in the season, but then also have declined in recent months.

Much of this has been fueled by low interest rates, coupled with the fact there are so few homes for sale.

Graph of mortgage interest rates during the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
A screenshot from Freddie Mac’s website, updated March 12th. This site updates every Thursday.

Enter Coronavirus

So what does this mean? We are not sure how the Coronavirus will affect the market overall. But it so far has had little impact.

Real estate is slow moving so it will take time to see a change.

However, it is almost certain that things will change in the market in reaction to what is happening. The mortgage rates already have moved up a bit from their lows.

The Fed’s stimulus package was released over the weekend, so next week we will see how this impacts the mortgage rates. Remember, mortgage rates are influenced by Fed policy but the Fed does not set the mortgage rates.

I have also heard of sellers who have decided to not list their homes, and buyers who are putting their plans on hold.

This is understandable given the fear surrounding Coronavirus. However, it will also affect the inventory of homes for sale.

I will give a further update this week on what the market is doing. Bookmark this page if you would like to find out more.

Best Practices for Buyers and Sellers


March 20th, 2020 Update: Some title companies, but not all are beginning to allow e-notarizations. This includes closing documents.

Your lender and the title company must approve e-notaries in Virginia, so check with your lender and title attorney as soon as you decide you would like to sign remotely.

For all showings, remember to sanitize, use gloves and only have interactions with people where absolutely necessary.

Maintain social distancing, of at least 6 feet between yourself and other professionals or individuals.


Sellers

If you are selling, here are some tips to keep your home and family safe while selling.

These also will hopefully cut down on putting a lot of people in close proximity of each other to prevent spread.

• Required gloves, footwear for showings. It is common to see booties to go over people’s shoes at showing to keep floors clean.

This is a good practice, but I would add latex gloves for people to grab. This is especially true if you are living in the house.

• If you can, move out before selling. If at all possible, find some temporary housing so that you do not need to worry about any buyers bringing anything into where you live.

• Restrict showings. Require a pre-approval letter from a bank or a bank statement showing proof of funds before allowing anyone to show your property. This will keep showings to serious buyers only.

•Notify buyers to use caution. Leave a note that tells buyers not to touch items with bare hands, etc. Anything you think is important.

•Avoid open houses. Many people are suggesting practices to keep you safe during open houses. In my opinion, I do not think open houses are a good idea for now.

There are too many people who come in the house who may not even be seriously looking. Remember, we are trying to keep your home safe and cut down on the spread to the community.

•Clean. If you are living in the home, keep it sanitized after each showing. Especially door knobs, etc.

• Remote paperwork, remote closing. All of the contract paperwork should be done remotely.

I use electronic signatures anyway, but even more reason now. You can also close remotely, however a notary will have to come to your home.

Encourage them to wash their hands before you start signing. Use your own pen.

Buyers

• Remote showings. I am available to go and do a remote showing using video. We can do it via real time with facetime or equivalent, or I can send you a video of a home you may be interested in.

• Wash hands. When you enter a home wash your hands if possible. After you are done with showings and get back home, wash them again.

• Open houses. Avoid open houses. I can show you a house with a private showing before or after.

•Remote paperwork. Same as above, do your paperwork via electronic signatures.

Real Estate Help

If you are thinking of buying and selling, reach out to me. The Coronavirus has complicated things for now, and could complicate them further.

But I am keeping a close eye on the market and the situation as whole and I can give you guidance to navigate these uncertain times.

What can I answer for you? Use the form below to ask me a question.

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Will Rodgers

Will is an award winning real estate agent, author and high tech marketing expert. Adopting a consultative approach he has helped hundreds of clients meet their real estate goals in the Northern VA real estate market.

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