In the lead up to COVID-19, real estate activity was showing a promising year ahead. But once open homes and showings were replaced with virtual viewings as social distancing measures were ordered, market activity began to shift.
For the most part, both potential home buyers and sellers began to put everything on hold as they waited for the uncertainty caused by the pandemic to pass. As a result, home sales declined across the country and prices began to lose momentum.
To get a better understanding of the real estate market, Point2 Homes reached out to real estate agents and professionals nationwide to learn how the pandemic was affecting their business and what changes they anticipated in the post-COVID world.
According to Point2 Homes, 86% of the agents who responded said they have noticed a significant drop in homebuyers’ interest. Of these respondents, 41% said that most of their clients stopped searching for a home, so they were forced to put everything on hold, while only 2% of agents said that, so far, they’ve only noticed only a minor drop in interest.
As homebuyers’ interest began to drop, 41% of agents said they are “very worried and concerned” about their business, while 34% said they are “extremely anxious” and their entire business is now on hold.
Just 10% of all agents surveyed estimated that this COVID period would translate into business losses of less than 25%; the majority of agents were much less optimistic. In particular, 62% of respondents said they expect at least half of their business to “vanish” after this period. Meanwhile, almost one-third of respondents believed the outbreak would cause a drop of more than 75%.
However, despite the negative impact the pandemic currently has on the market, most agents believe that the current health crisis will only have short-term effects. In fact, 80% of respondents believe things could get back to normal within twelve months, while 51% think it will take just six months for home buying to get back on track.
As the industry continues to navigate this uncertain time, real estate agents reported they are now incorporating new solutions into their work process, to not only help them prepare for the future but so they can continue to help homebuyers who still want or need to find a home.
According to Point2 Homes, 28% of agents said they had been doing more for their clients, such as taking more pictures of properties and spending more time on the phone answering questions about homes that buyers were unable to visit in person.
What’s more, 23% of respondents said they had become more dependent upon technology, including using more virtual tours in their home listings.
Regarding the pandemic’s more permanent changes to the market, Point2 Homes said many agents mentioned there could be a stronger dependency on online tools, such as virtual tours, live streaming, online buying, virtual signatures and buyer pre-assessment. On the other hand, other agents expressed concerns regarding market value, price drops, and the real estate market tipping into buyer territory.