Market Update April 1, 2020
Business as usual?
The Governor’s Executive Order 2020-21 has deemed that real estate brokers and agents do not constitute “critical infrastructure workers” and thus may not leave their homes for work. Does this mean that real estate activity grinds to a halt? Yes… and no. Financial services, mortgage lenders, title companies, inspectors, appraisers, surveyors, registers of deeds, and notaries are deemed to be essential. If there is a transaction in process, it can be closed. The Realtors involved, however, will likely not attend the inspection nor the closing.
What about new listings, showings or open houses?
Looking at new residential listings in Washtenaw County for the month of March 2020, new listing are down 10% from the same month last year. If we look at the data since the Executive Order (3/24/2020) new listings are, not surprisingly, down 52%. Many of the 82 new listings are new construction (24) and may not even be built yet. A few listings prohibit showings until after the restrictions are lifted. Several listings have exterior only photos or cell phone only photos, likely because the professional photographers are also deemed non-essential.
What does this all mean? That most people who are planning to sell their house this spring are waiting. This has been our recommendation to our sellers.
In-person showings and open houses are prohibited. Certainly, there are some buyers who may be comfortable with seeing a house virtually, either through a video tour of even a FaceTime walkthrough. I know, because we have sold a few over the years this way. Some people have to move and need to make a purchase now. Most buyers we talk to are taking a break – likely waiting for the new listings!
I am not an economist or a fortune teller, but my educated guess is that when the restrictions are lifted and we are free to move around again, our local real estate market will come roaring back, hotter than ever.
Struggling to make your mortgage payments?
The new $2 trillion CARE Act provides for Mortgage Forbearance - Borrowers of government-backed mortgages ((Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, VA and USDA) can request up to 360-day payment forbearance without proof of hardship. No additional fees, interest, or penalties can be assessed for the forbearance. Unemployment insurance is now available for many more types of workers for an extended period of time. For the first, gig workers and independent contractors (think Realtors) are eligible. The lack of new listings, buyers and closings leave most Realtors without commission checks.
Our office is closed (for now)
To protect our staff and our agents, we are all working remotely. We have long had systems in place to work this way, but since we opened Trillium Real Estate in 2001, we have always had our doors open for visitors and our phones answered in person. Our phones are still answered by a person, but you have to meet us in a virtual office for now.
Free Things For Fun or Learning while Staying Home (version 2)
If you have to track the virus
Stay safe. Stay inside. Be kind to each other.
Sandi Smith and Linda Lombardini
Owners, Trillium Real Estate