NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The COVID-19 virus, sparing no industry, that includes real estate. Though low mortgage rates continue driving buyers, there are early signs the market is slowing, according to economists at Zillow.
To compensate, realtors are turning to virtual reality.
“Hey y’all, I’m coming to you from a fabulous open house this morning,” Camile Caraway, a realtor with The Ashton Real Estate Group of REMAX Advantage, said in a Facebook live video last week. “I want to know if you can see yourself being quarantined here, this is a fabulous place, let me give you a quick tour.”
Though Facebook Lives and 3D virtual tours were popular before the spread of COVID-19, now, they’re more important than ever, as we continue social distancing.
“We’ve changed the way we do business,” Caraway said.
That means no open houses and showings are scarce.
For in-person showings, sellers must have provisions for sanitation on hand, like covers for shoes, hand sanitizers, and wipes. Also, if there are back-to-back showings for a house, clients will be asked to wait in their cars until it is their turn to come inside, according to Jeff Checko with REMAX Advantage.
As the economy slows, it’s forcing the market to follow as well, ever so slightly says Cheryl Young, a Senior Economist at Zillow.
“This comes from numbers in February that were super strong,” Young said. “We were setting up the housing market to be a competitive one for sellers there were a lot of buyers ready to get out there, mortgage rates were pretty low, driving a lot of people into the market and of course with the outbreak of COVID-19, we started to see things shift a little bit.”
As for price tags on homes, Young is still trying to figure out the possible impact and outcome.
“Obviously, there is an impact on the economy and that’s going to slow things down a little bit, people are hesitant to sell right away so there may be more listings out there.”
However, Caraway says she hasn’t seen any slowing and still has active buyers and sellers.
“I think the frenzy that has been our middle Tennessee real estate market, buying and selling hotcakes I think that may slow down, but slow and steady is still out there,” Caraway said.
Amid the changes, realtors are working online, creating 3D virtual tours to keep business going strong.
“We do a lot of drone stuff as well for our properties,” Caraway said. “It’s just another way that technology is aligned with us as realtors, that we’re able to show and highlight your property in such a positive way.”
Last week, Zillow saw a near doubling (191% increase) in the creation of 3D Home tours — with a jump of 326% on Friday. That’s compared with the average number of tours created last month.
As 3D tours sore, Apartment List’s Chief economist, Igor Popov, is out with seven ways COVID-19 could reshape the housing market.
In the coming months, both safety concerns and economic uncertainty will keep more people in their current homes.
The “remote work experiment” will cause companies and workers to reconsider their location. The U.S will hit pause on the long-run trend of urbanization. Rents will fall for some, but affordable housing will be hard to find. Fewer people moving means fewer available homes.
Housing inequality will grow.
Homeownership plans will have to wait for many Millennials and Gen-Z. The rise of sight-unseen housing choices will accelerate.
“If everyone would just remain calm and not come from a place of panic, were not panic buying, were not panic selling, everything is steadfast were doing what we do,” Caraway said.
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