By Sandy Adler
(Phoenix) It was a real sign of the times. This week, I was out showing a few homes to my buyers. A vacant home we looked at, staged with furniture, had signs around the house asking us to touch as little as possible while we were viewing the home. My buyers and I drove in separate cars and wore face masks. I had wipes with me so that I didn't have to touch surfaces. And I used hand sanitizer after leaving each property. Wearing a mask while showing a home and talking to my buyers is uncomfortable and hot. Being in a separate vehicle while showing my buyers neighborhoods is inconvenient. We sometimes talk on the phone while we are driving, so I can point out things to them about the area. All in all, it is a more time-consuming process than it was pre-COVID-19. And it is more exhausting than usual! But if we want to work with a modicum of safety, it is necessary.
Here in Arizona, real estate services were considered “essential” from the beginning. Maricopa County (metro Phoenix) is the fastest growing county in the country with a very robust job market. Many realtors have continued to work, albeit with extra precautions that were not in place before the pandemic. We have continued to show and sell homes. New home builders have changed how they do business as well. Agents and buyers must have appointments to look at models. Buyer demand dropped, especially from mid-March to mid-April, but it is picking up now.
What has the pandemic done to real estate overall? Property showings have started to increase again but have not yet reached the pre-shutdown level. I'm sure this will happen as states open up more. Most interestingly, most homeowners have at least 60% equity in their homes. While home appreciation is predicted to slow because of the pandemic, there is no prediction that it will go negative. Two strong reasons for this is that inventory of resale properties is low and mortgage interest rates for home purchases are at all-time lows.
So the real estate business continues. Like other industries, we are finding ways to continue our business using technology that is easily available to us. I “met” with some new clients the other day via Zoom, doing an introductory meeting remotely instead of in my office as was usual before. We have done Zoom or FaceTime calls to show property to buyers who cannot come to see the property in person (we had done this occasionally and successfully before). I think these extra precautions will stay in place in the real estate industry until there is a vaccine for COVID-19 or a much greater comfort with reduced infection levels. That being said, I’m sure there are agents and buyers who do not follow these protocols just as there are people who are already happy to congregate in restaurants here without social distancing.
Sandy Adler has been a residential real estate agent in Arizona for 19 years, working throughout metro Phoenix. She works with many buyers who are relocating from other parts of the country often, so she has helped many families move to the Valley of the Sun over the years. Adler’s son, Rob, and daughter-in-law, Michelle, are her business partners. They are very active agents, helping buyers and sellers with all sorts of residential real estate transactions. Says Adler, “We make a great family team supporting our clients and each other.” www.bestarizonahomes.com