Every real estate agent looks forward to the spring selling season in Atlanta! Spring is when families really kick into high gear to sell and purchase homes before the next school year. The selling season often starts at the end of February or beginning of March, which is exactly when the coronavirus struck our city and our market. The fear we all felt as we watched the stock market take its biggest plunge since 1987 was astounding. Even though the interest rate was cut in an effort to curtail the hit, we saw many deals fall through in response.
That was in early March, and since then we have been seeing things pick up. Buyer activity is down but has not stopped! The interest rates are very desirable and there is less competition with other buyers. Sellers are a bit more reluctant now than buyers. New contracts written and new listings taken have declined about 45 percent. Some buyers are unsure of the market, and sellers are unsure of letting people tour their homes. However, we have not yet seen a decline in prices.
Agents are considered to be essential; we help people find their homes to be able to “shelter in place.” We are conducting “business as usual,” just in a different way. I held an open house in early March and greeted everyone at the door with a pump of anti-bacterial soap and a spray bottle of alcohol and water to clean the bottom of their shoes before putting on shoe guards. There were quite a few lookers but since then the physical showings have been few and far between.
Our new normal is ramping up everything virtual: virtual tours, virtual showings and open houses. If there is a physical showing, I make sure the buyer is pre-qualified, a serious looker, and I actually ask if they are healthy.
Before the pandemic hit, people made plans to move, whether for a bigger home, smaller home, first home, or job-related moves. These people need to continue moving forward with their move. We have adopted plenty of special stipulations to adapt to the situation. Loans continue to be processed, although at an arm’s length and in a totally digital way. Closing attorneys are still able to get us to the closing table, but that too looks different, with electronic signatures and most recently the ability to notarize electronically. Like many changes in our lives, the way we shop for homes is changing as well.
The Atlanta spring market was already underway and I am hopeful that, come July or August, we will be right back in full swing with little decline in prices in the market. Stay positive and be well.
Melanie White is a certified residential specialist with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and a life member of the Multi-Million Dollar Club, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or melsellsatl.com.