Market Update: April 24, 2020
Today we heard from our Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, that Michigan’s stay-at-home order is extended until May 15th. She did, however, provide some loosening of restrictions on some industries and activities. Landscapers, golfers, and boaters are particularly happy. Paint aisles at the big box stores are open for all those people looking to finish their home projects. Bike shops are open for repairs. She acknowledged having conversations with business and trade groups, including the Michigan Realtors, but did not include any changes for our industry in today’s order.
As a Director for Michigan Realtors, I know first hand that our statewide organization has been reviewing best practices from across the country and has made some recommendations to the Governor on how real estate sales can resume safely in Michigan. I believe that we will soon have a preliminary stage of re-engagement. What might this look like? Here are some of the recommendations from MI Realtors:
Real Estate Licensees should work remotely to the greatest extent possible, conducting in-person meetings only when necessary to develop a new listing, or for a client to view a property, or to sign necessary documents;
No in-person real estate open houses shall be permitted;
Property photography/videography, viewings, inspections, appraisals, and final walk-throughs shall be arranged by appointment and limited to no more than four people on-site at any one time, exercising social distancing at all times;
Private showings should be limited to owner-occupied, vacant homes, commercial, and industrial property;
Any in-person activities must abide by CDC/Michigan guidelines for social distancing.
With the restrictions in place, the use of virtual platforms will remain essential. Our Realtors at Trillium Real Estate have world-class tools available to them to help our clients navigate today’s real estate marketplace when we get the ok to go.
For our sellers
If you are occupying the property for sale, you need to decide how comfortable you are with having people enter your home. When we are able, our listings will have professional photography, floor plans, and video walkthroughs available so that buyers can make an informed decision if they interested enough to make an offer or maybe an in-person walkthrough. All potential buyers must be pre-approved. Sellers should turn on all lights and open all doors, drapes, and blinds, and sanitize surfaces of entry doors before and after each showing. Buyers and showing agents should not touch anything while in the property.
For our buyers
Your first priority is to establish a relationship with a local lender and get pre-approved. Meet virtually with your Trillium agent to get thoroughly familiar with the home buying process. Carefully review each potential property and rule out any that are not a good fit. Keep in mind that it is possible that you may be asked to negotiate a purchase agreement without seeing the property in person. You will have an opportunity to see the property before closing – and ideally during the inspection contingency phase.
Some buyers have purchased homes during this stay-at-home time without setting foot in the house until moments before the closing. The circumstances may be less than ideal, but sometimes people must move. If you find yourself in this situation, talk to us for guidance.
My crystal ball
I have been asked numerous times what I think the market will look like when we re-open for business. Bad news first: many buyers will have exited the market as they are no longer fully employed. Some buyers will drop off because their down payments or reserves have disappeared through the stock market drops, and some buyers will not buy out of sheer fear. The good news: we still have a lot of pent up demand for housing. We have strong institutional employers in the area that can maintain a workforce. Interest rates are at historic lows and could even go lower over the next year.
When the market is open, we will see an immediate surge of new listings come on the market within the first week of this re-entry phase. (It will be critical that all parties to the process maintain the strictest adherence to the guidelines or we may be shut down again!) For buyers: scheduling inspectors could be hard, so contracts will be written with extended timetables. Planning ahead like getting the pre-approvals could mean winning in the bidding wars. For sellers: letting us know that your property is ready for market before day 1 so that we can arrange for you to get one of our prioritized slots with our professional photographers.
Help for those who just want to keep the house they are in
With so many people now out of work, it may be that your current real estate needs are just maintaining the house you already own. If you are having difficulties paying your mortgage, you may be able to get your payments deferred for 90 days. The State of Michigan has launched a relief plan, which you find more about here:
Trillium Real Estate is ready to help you in whatever real estate needs you may have. Regardless of the current restrictions in place, we can help you plan for the anticipated market opening – whenever that may be.
For now, stay home. Stay safe!
President, Trillium Real Estate