ASKA REALTOR How is COVID-19 affecting the real estatemarket? Chaille Ralph, vice president of operations for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene Since late March, the Houston Association of Realtors has stopped any public open houses due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders in place all across the Greater Houston region, said Chaille Ralph, the vice president of operations for Houston-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene. “I do think Realtors are adjusting to different ways of doing business,” Ralph said. “Certainly, as a listing agent, we’re used to meeting people at the homes or opening up the homes for open houses. As buyers' agents we’re used to touring every home the buyer’s interested in.”
BY BETH MARSHALL
“I DO THINK REALTORS ARE ADJUSTING TO DIFFERENTWAYS OF DOING BUSINESS. ... CONDUCTING VIRTUAL SHOWINGS ANDVIRTUAL OPEN HOUSES HAS BECOME A STRONG PART OF OUR INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW.” CHAILLE RALPH, VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS, BHGRE-GARY GREENE
50%-70% real estate market slowdown anticipated at least until mid-July to August GREATERHOUSTONREAL ESTATE BY THE NUMBERS
HowareGreaterHouston-area Realtors faringduring this time? Conducting virtual showings and virtual open houses has become a strong part of our industry right now. Agents and companies have been very proactive and really trying to figure out better ways to get clients to see the home through 360-degree tours and 3D images so that people can kind of walk through the home virtually. People are conducting physical show- ings. But in many cases, that’s only if it’s a serious buyer. I do have agents that are out showing, you know, two to three times a week because they have buyers that need to find a home. We all need a place to live. Is nowa good time to buy or sell a house? It’s important that a buyer or a seller consult with a Realtor to really understand what’s happening in the market at the time because it can change. Inventory typically is low across the board. Obviously, some neighborhoods may have more
inventory than others. Interest rates are low, so it’s a great time to buy. Interest rates are low, so it’s a great time for a seller to have their house on the market because there’s buyers out there looking. What long-termeffects do you expect for the real estate market in the aftermath of the coronavirus? I think if we knew how long we were going to be on stay-at-home [orders] or social distancing, we’d have a better idea. I mean, if we come out of this in the next two weeks and we can start to get back to a new normal it’ll be less than what it could be if it goes on. More than the pandemic, I think, our economy is crucial to us being able to get everybody back on the ground. A lot of people have lost jobs. So we need people employed. I don’t think we’ve felt the full effect of it yet. And it’s hard to tell what it will be but I do think that we’re anticipating slowdowns in the 50% to 70% range
7,566 homes sold in March citywide, an 8.2% increase over March 2019 median single-family home sale price in March—the highest ever for a March sales period $249,900 9
consecutive months of sales growth compared to previous year
SOURCE: CHAILLE RALPH AND HOUSTON REALTORS ASSOCIATION/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
soon as you know you might need help, even if you're not sure if you're going to need help yet. We don't do property management, but I know some property management compa- nies have said let us know as soon as you know you might need help so that we can figure out a way to work with you. Not that we're waiving anything, but we'll figure out how to make things work. But if we don't hear from you, then we expect you to pay.
at least probably for the next 90 to 120 days. What type of relief can home- owners seek on theirmortgages during this time? I think the sooner a homeowner contacts their lender, the better off they'll be. I mean, obviously, it's going to change from lender to lender, I'm sure. But all the advice I've ever given anybody is to contact someone as
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