CORRECTION: Story has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly cited the NCREC as directing COVID guidelines. That agency had nothing to do with what we could or could not do.
5 Points Realty agents have had a unique view of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the market go from a seemingly healthy balance of equal buying and selling to a near-total standstill to a whole new set of trends triggered by the uncertainty of the coronavirus. And that’s all within the last few months.
We rounded up 4 agents Beverly Newell, Norma Hanson, Ian Leonard, and Tracy Gregg, to get their perspective on what it’s been like in the trenches. This is our anecdotal and personal opinion and experience.
Beware the Ides of March
Agents had no idea what was coming when March began. By all accounts, the market was moving along at a good pace. There was a regular ebb and flow to the transactions. We were focused and optimistic about the Spring Market ahead. Everything seemed normal. Then the COVID crisis began. The Stay at Home order was put in place in mid-March sending the North Carolina Association of Realtors scrambling to come up with new guidelines for real estate brokers.
Life at a standstill
Like the rest of the world, the home market stopped for the first 2-3 weeks of the Stay at Home order. In Mecklenburg County, agents weren’t allowed to show property.
Beverly recalls the ‘wait and see’ period and the trickle of clients who were able to see a house based on dire need.
For buyers and sellers, the economy and job security became a challenge. Norma had a couple who needed to get out of a condo. This particular one had to overcome job concerns first then discovered they were pregnant. They bought something first so they didn’t have to show the condo property while they were living there. Ian showed a condo to a buyer just before guidelines around unoccupied spaces changed. She loved the property and made an offer but pulled it when work became a concern.
Movement in the market
Just as clients were juggling all the changes, so were agents. Virtual tours became the temporary norm. Beverly remembers many though says she never had anyone purchase a home site unseen. Tracy initially turned down some opportunities because of personal safety concerns but ultimately had several buyers that were prepped and ready to go and saw properties they wanted without going on traditional showings to homes. One actually bought a home, based off a ‘coming soon’ status.
Ian remembers the first time he was able to show a house again. Per guidelines, he had to wear masks and gloves. There could be no overlapping in showings and the number of people allowed inside at the same time was limited. He abided by the rules to keep himself and his clients safe but admits he saw some agents from other agencies failing to do the same.
Norma who spent much of the first 6-8 weeks of the shutdown pulling listings temporarily off the market is happy to report that now is a good time to list. In fact, she has several listings coming up. Tracy agrees, saying overall it seems it’s just a good time to sell. There is such a low amount of inventory and interest rates are so low.
So what are the predictions for Charlotte Real estate going forward?
Busy is the buzzword. Beverly says the people she’s talking to want to sell not rent. Clients want more space, anticipating the continuation of working from home. There is a notable pattern that the people who are buying and selling are driven by their personal needs and the new normal.
Norma has clients who want more land, an asset that’s going quickly. Ian agrees citing land that has been sitting for a while seems to be moving.
Norma has also noticed first time home buyers trying to conserve money by buying under budget. Ian says buyers are attracted by low-interest rates. Beverly thinks demand is high. She says sellers aren’t afraid of selling because inventory is so low. Tracy is slightly concerned about the lack of inventory moving ahead.
What about investors?
The COVID-pandemic is also impacting real estate investors. Beverly says people want to limit the amount of investment liability. Ian believes investors are pulling back because prices are really high and competitive right now.
It all adds up to a strong market according to Tracy. The rest of the agents agree. The truth is we just don’t know what will happen from week to week. The last few months have taught us just how quickly things can change. But we aren’t going anywhere. Our agents will keep their ears to the ground and their finger on the pulse so they can adapt quickly as needed to market demands.