We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy, and implementing practices to remain so. This is such a challenging time for all. 

As one can imagine, the real estate industry is not immune to these uncertain times, and for the next several weeks or longer, we seem headed for more unpredictability.

It’s the unknown that makes people hesitate, whether it be an election year , recession or freefall in the stock market—all of which we are experiencing this year. Of course, unknown factors have always made for instability, although the risk of an epidemic never seemed as imminent as, for example, a threat of a local earthquake. But now that we’re amid this pandemic, there is much uncertainty of when it will end, and what effects may remain.

Real estate is now considered to be an “essential” service industry although some of the services we can offer are limited. Some of what we can do and what we should do are at odds with each other. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that all REALTORS ®  rely on for marketing homes, has disallowed broker tours or open houses, and all showings are being discouraged in order to suppress the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

We are finding innovative ways to continue to help our clients regardless of the necessity or desirability to buy or sell homes. Today there are favorable conditions with less competition and low interest rates to help keep the industry moving. Mortgage lenders have eased practices and appraisers are now doing “drive-by” inspections. Title insurance and escrow companies are arranging for private home and “drive-thru” signings—enabling buyers and sellers to sign documents from the comfort and safety of their car. These measures aim to keep home sales healthy. 

In an effort to put into perspective and quantify the COVID 19 impact on our local real estate market and your home’s value, we examined the period between March 14th, when the Shelter in Place order was implemented, until March 30th for both years—2019 and 2020 in San Mateo County.

As one can see in the graphs below, the number of homes brought to the market—new listings—are down 33%, and the percentage of those that went pending during this period down 50%.

This clearly indicates that we are seeing a shift to a buyer’s market as supply outpaces demand.

What isn’t evident in this data, due to the lack of tracking algorithms, is the number of cancelled or withdrawn listings, or the number of sales that have a contingency in their offer—estimated to be up more than 60%.

Speaking of which, pending sales in February, released today, showed strong housing demand. Although March numbers will certainly begin to reflect the challenges the pandemic is creating, today’s numbers are a sign that the underlying fundamentals of the market are strong.

If you need real estate advice during this time, please know that we’re here to help. We are keeping a watchful eye on how this is affecting our industry, and the market values. We are here to help you regardless of when you find it necessary or desirable to transact real estate. 

We’re available to advise you on a personal case-by-case basis to determine the best opportunity for your needs. 

Editor’s note: The feature image is the ugliest picture we’ve ever posted.

Drew & Christine Morgan are REALTORS/NOTARY PUBLIC in Belmont, CA. with more than 25 years experience in helping sellers and buyers in their community. As Diamond recipients, Drew and Christine are ranked in the top 50 RE/MAX agents nationwide and the top 3 in Northern California.  They may be reached at (650) 508.1441 or emailed at info@morganhomes.com.

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The information contained in this article is educational and intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute real estate, tax, insurance or legal advice, nor does it substitute for advice specific to your situation. Always consult an appropriate professional familiar with your scenario.

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