Historically low mortgage rates are a big motivator for homebuyers right now. In 2020 alone, rates hit new record-lows 16 times, and the trend continued into the early part of this year.
Buyer vs. Seller Behavior Amid COVID-19 Concerns
Dated: April 15 2020
As of mid-February, all signs pointed to a strong seller’s market dominating the first quarter of the year. In fact, HomeLight sent out a survey its typical first-quarter survey to top agents across the country Feb. 17-23. Results showed that agents seemed to be very confident that 2020’s housing market was going to be strong, stronger than last year.
However, by March, it became clear that COVID-19 was going to wreak havoc on the economy, the housing market, and the buyer and seller movement this year.
HomeLight sent out a second survey, a Flash Poll, March 13-17, to which 601 top agents responded and with decidedly less optimism than in the previous survey. In the first survey, 76 percent of agents reported feeling some optimism about the coming year in Q4 of 2019, and by March, that number had fallen to 55 percent. And agents who felt pessimistic grew from 6 percent to 16 percent.
Agents also reported some major changes in buyer and seller behavior. Here are findings based on the top agent insights for Q1 2020.
52 percent of respondents have seen buyers put their house-hunting activities on hold
45 percent of surveyed agents say they’ve seen buyer activity slow in their market
Nearly 20 percent of top agents have seen an increase in demand for virtual showings
What’s a buyer to do
The good news, according to top agent insights, is that buyers who wanted to buy this year were facing an extremely competitive real estate season at the beginning of the year, but coronavirus changed all of that. Now buyers face a low-pressure buying season. Those who move forward with their home search will find much less competition. However, there will be some logistical challenges that go along with practicing social distancing, but agents all over the country are finding creative workarounds that keep everyone safe and allow buyers to search and find homes.
And if buyers do find the one, agents advise keeping quiet until in a private place. More than one-third of agents agree that speaking about a home within range of cameras and recording devices is the biggest mistake buyers can make.
22 percent of surveyed agents report having seen sellers take their homes off the market due to coronavirus concerns
41 percent of respondents say they’ve seen seller activity decline in their market
Among sellers staying on the market, 66 percent are taking extra precautions such as halting open houses in favor of showings (32 percent) or asking buyers to wash hands or use hand sanitizer (21 percent)
What’s a seller to do
Sellers who are moving forward with selling should partner with a top local agent to learn their options. Agents can help navigate virtual tour options, let sellers know whether their state permits Remote Online Notarizations and help orchestrate a digital closing where applicable.
If sellers are in a shelter in place area where real estate has been deemed non-essential, sellers will have to wait to sell, however, an agent can help determine which DIY projects are best for prepping a home for sale. Now is the perfect time to do a little home improvement as most people are spending their time at home.
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