COVID-19 having sharp impact on real estate market

Brian Pedersen//March 19, 2020

COVID-19 having sharp impact on real estate market

Brian Pedersen//March 19, 2020

Realtors are starting to face the challenges of completing real estate deals in person amid the COVID-19 outbreak. (THINKSTOCK) –

As a relationship-driven, people-facing industry, real estate is facing the turbulent effects of COVID-19.

“As we progressed through February, the actual and expected impacts of COVID-19 continued to grow, with concerns of economic impact reaching the stock market in the last week of the month,” said Jack Gross, president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors, in the GLVR February market report. “As the stock market declined, so did mortgage rates, offering a bad news-good news situation. While short term declines in the stock market can sting, borrowers who lock in today’s low rates will benefit significantly in the long term.”

However, Gross said with so much changing regarding the virus, it’s hard to make any definitive statements about its effects on the housing market since information, even from the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, is subject to change daily.

Gross, who is president of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Cassidon Realty in Bethlehem, said he directed his company not to conduct open houses.

“We are trying to keep things moving forward, so far it’s working,” Gross said. “Is it going to affect our business? Absolutely. The leadership is focusing on everybody staying safe first.”

Gross said COVID-19 has put a completely new dynamic on seeing things for him, and he is telling his staff not to panic.

“We will survive this and we will get past this,” Gross said.

Up until last week, the industry had the same factors of low inventory, a seller’s market and warmer weather that helped boost traffic in showing activity, he said.

Overall, the February data showed tight inventory and another record low for months’ supply of inventory. For Lehigh and Northampton counties, that figure came in at 1.4 months, beating January’s one-month record for lowest months’ supply of inventory since GLVR began tracking statistical housing data in 1996.

Other statistics:

  • The report showed closed sales were flat, with 450 closed sales in February 2019, compared to 449 in February 2020.
  • The median sales price increased 8% to $199,999.
  • Sellers were encouraged with the percentage of list price received increasing 0.8% to 97.8%.
  • Days on market remained at 50 days.
  • New listings decreased 2.4% to 691.
  • Pending sales were up 14.5% to 686.
  • Inventory levels shrank 36.6% to 1,049 units, leading to a months’ supply of inventory that was down 41.7%.