By Sue Goodhart
Alexandria, VA – As everyone knows, life has been turned completely upside down during the COVID-19 pandemic. The real estate market in 2020 started out with a bang and was one of the busiest early spring markets that we can recall in our 27+ years of business! Most homes were selling in just days with multiple offers and no contingencies.
Then came COVID-19. Luckily, real estate has been deemed an essential service here in Virginia and the DC Metro area. While business looks a bit different with lots of disinfecting wipes and masks, drive-by appraisals, and virtual settlements, the fundamentals remain the same and the market has continued to be competitive.
A lot of our clients and friends have asked, “How is selling a home during COVID? Should I list my home now or wait? Should I buy a home during COVID?”
COVID-19’s Effects on the DMV
We’re fortunate to live in the DMV, where our economy is a bit more isolated than the rest of the country in terms of the effects of the pandemic. The federal government and military presence here provide stable jobs for a large percentage of our population. Our area is far more transient than most, accounting for a lot of market movement.
That’s not to say that our area has not experienced the economic effects of the pandemic. Many, many people have been furloughed or lost their jobs. Some people who are fortunate enough to remain employed have taken pay cuts.
In terms of real estate in the DMV, not much has changed since the pandemic hit our area in March. Real estate inventory remains low while demand remains high, even more so than in the first three months of the year. Despite the pandemic, people still need to move for personal reasons, both happy and sad, like growing families, new jobs, death, and divorce. All things considered, the DMV real estate market is still doing quite well.
Should I make a move during COVID-19?
If you were considering a move pre-pandemic and put your plans on hold, you may be wondering, “what now?” As states start to reopen and life slowly begins to resume, what does that mean for the local market? Is now a good time to buy a home? Or sell one? Buyers: Now is actually a great time to buy a home. Interest rates are at historic lows. In mid-May, the 30-year fixed-rate average was just 3.55 percent. Low rates, however, also mean increased competition for homes, with more house hunters searching for homes. Home values in our area continue their slow but steady climb, which means the longer buyers wait, the more they will pay more for a home.
Sellers: It’s also a great time to sell. Buyers are still plentiful in our area and inventory remains low. As the peak of the pandemic passes, more and more buyers are getting pre-approval to take advantage of the low interest rate and are seriously looking at homes.
As always, sellers need to be mindful of smart pricing. Although inventory is low, the economy is still in a major tailspin, and sellers need to be very careful not to overprice their homes. With so many showings taking place virtually, now more than ever, sellers must ensure that their home looks spectacular online and shows well to potential buyers. Sellers must plan to invest in high-quality staging and photography.
While we are lucky to have a stable housing market despite COVID-19, we saw a small dip in sales in April and a pick up again in May. It feels like our typical spring market will be realized this summer. It is a good time to buy now with historically low interest rates and less competition. In a few months, we anticipate more houses to come on the market, but more buyers to compete with as well!
If you would like to chat about your current situation and now is the right time for you, contact us to schedule a call or a virtual meeting. We are happy to help you sift through the options.