DILLON — Realtors are finding creative ways to show houses to clients and keep the real estate market afloat amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
While the local economy grinds to a halt amid the countywide shutdown, there is no significant drop in the real estate market — yet. According to real estate data from March 1-25, pending sales were more than five times higher and sales were down only slightly compared with the same dates in 2019. Through Wednesday, there were 75 pending properties in Summit County this month compared with 13 through the same date in March 2019. The number of sold properties this month is down five versus March 2019, a difference of about 6%.
Dana Cottrell, president of the Summit Association of Realtors, said local Realtors are still showing houses in person, though the showings are looking quite different than they did before the novel coronavirus appeared in Summit County.
“My own personal experience is that showings have slowed down, but they’re still happening,” Cottrell said.
When people go to see a home, Cottrell said they do not travel in the same car as their Realtor, and they carry sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with them. She said brokers are often going through the property prior to a home showing and fully disinfecting surfaces to make people feel more comfortable. If a buyer is viewing a home at this time, they are typically very serious about buying soon, she said. Cottrell also noted that an owner is more apt to allow interested buyers to view a home if it is not occupied full time — something that is true of many homes on the market in Summit County.
Cottrell explained that Realtors have various virtual methods to contact their clients, including 3-D “fly-through” tours of listed homes and communicative videos. She also said that some parts of buying a home that are typically done in person, such as notarization, are moving toward digital or low-contact methods.
“The more we can push to remote, the better chance we have,” Cottrell said. “I think as brokers, we are going to really show our value to find unique ways to keep the market moving forward.”
As for changes to prices, Cottrell said it is too soon to know whether the pandemic is affecting local home prices and that any potential drop in prices would depend on how long the outbreak and subsequent changes in the community last.
“It’s really pushing us as Realtors to reach out and be of benefit to our market in new ways,” Cottrell said.
Real Estate of the Summit owner and broker Dennis Clauer pointed out that the real estate market has a “mud season,” along with other local industries, that it would normally be heading into around this time. He said brokers are typically busy until the end of March but that the market usually slows down in April and May, which hopefully could lessen the economic blow of the virus.
“I think we’re a mirror of everything else in society as things have slowed down and everyone is concerned about the health and welfare of society,” Clauer said. “We’re at that point in the year where things typically shut down anyways.”
Clauer said he has seen some buyers pull out of contracts but doesn’t know if there is necessarily an increase in that type of activity compared with other, less uncertain times.
He noted that the web traffic of people looking at real estate in resort areas has increased, with particularly high interest from the Front Range. Clauer added that interest rates remain low for the foreseeable future, creating a sense of urgency for buyers and providing a “counterweight to the other economic headwinds” the industry is currently facing.