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March 17, 2020

February Housing Statistics & Real Estate Amidst COVID-19

As we progressed through February, the actual and expected impacts of COVID- 19 continued to grow, with concerns of economic impact reaching the stock market in the last week of the month. As the stock market declined, so did mortgage rates, offering a bad news-good news situation for those looking to buy a home, and perhaps refinance. While short term declines in the stock market can sting, borrowers who lock in today’s low rates look to benefit significantly in the long term.

The recently released Market Statistics saw a 20.2 percent year-over-year increase in showing traffic nationwide. All regions of the country were up double digits from the year before, with the Midwest Region up 15.7 percent and the West Region up 34.1 percent. With showing activity a leading indicator for future home sales, the 2020 housing market is off to a strong start, though it will be important to watch the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impacts to the overall economy in the coming months.

Locally, New Listings in the greater Chattanooga region increased 2.3 percent to 1,033. Pending Sales were up 12.1 percent to 938. Inventory levels shrank 21.6 percent to 2,175 units. Prices also continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 18.7 percent to $216,000. Days on Market was up 5.3 percent to 60 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 30.3 percent to 2.3 months.

Markets may change, but Realtors’ commitment to serving our clients doesn’t. Our fiduciary duty goes beyond serving clients – it’s also to serve the community. In light of the rapidly evolving situation due to COVID-19 we can do our part and embrace alternate ways to conduct business. And it’s imperative we discuss the current environment with our clients and look out for everyone’s best interest.

If riding together in the same vehicle for showings, frequently sanitize surfaces such as door handles and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car. Discuss with the client alternate methods for viewing properties, including recorded virtual tours and Facetime showings.

Ultimately, it’s up to a seller whether they will allow in-person showings and if so, what additional measure should be taken at their property – sanitizing door handles and other surfaces, removing shoes or wearing booties, maintaining a safe person-to-person distance.

We must discuss with the pros and cons of open houses and assess the risk based on local and state health authorities. Just like with one-on-one showing appointments, there are alternative technologies for marketing opportunities. Some markets have eliminated open houses for now. If it’s determined to continue with an open house, it’s suggested to require all visitors disinfect their hands upon entering the property, limiting the number of people in the home at one time, and providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway and disposable towels in bathrooms after handwashing. After an open house, it’s a good idea for seller to clean and disinfect their home, especially doorknobs and faucet handles and other commonly touched areas.

These times are unchartered for the real estate industry, and we call can do our part to embrace alternate methods for doing business to help prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19.  Navigating a market that can shift quickly is just one reason why consulting a Realtor is so important. We keep a watchful eye on trends locally and nationally that might affect our clients and community. That’s Who We R.