Agents adjusting to new coronavirus reality

by Timothy Inklebarger

Adjusting to the coronavirus outbreak is the new normal, and like everyone else, real estate agents are working to keep themselves and their clients safe.

According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, conducted on March 9 and 10, almost one out of every four sellers is making changes to how their home is viewed, whether it’s by temporarily suspending open houses, requiring homebuyers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer or asking them to remove their shoes or wear booties during showings.

In two of the hardest hit states — Washington and California — those numbers jump to 44% and 34%, respectively.

The survey also showed that buyer interest in most states remains high, with 78% noting no change and a mere 16% saying it’s decreasing.

Those numbers could change, however, if harder hit states are any roadmap. Twenty-one percent of California respondents reported waning buyer interest and 19% of Washington agents reported a decline in potential homebuyers in the market.

Officials are requiring the cancellation of all major sporting events and any large-scale gatherings of more than 1,000 people for the next 30 days. Additionally, those holding events of 250 people or more are being encouraged to consider canceling or postponing until May 1. All  with large spectator crowds should be cancelled until May 1. The Chicago Association of Realtors, Mainstreet Organization of Realtors and Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC have all published recommendations for their members.

Agents in Chicago are already making some adjustments.

Paul Wells, broker-owner of RE/MAX of Barrington, said he’s seen no reduction in foot traffic as a result of the outbreak — in fact, last weekend was his busiest this year in terms of open houses, he said, adding that he expects this activity to continue.

“Our agents are advised to make their own decisions as to whether or not they do open houses,” he said in an email. “Agents are urged to be cautious with any close interactions with the general public.”

At his Barrington office, Wells and company are thoroughly wiping down all surfaces as the beginning and end of the day. He acknowledged that the pandemic is “adding to the complexities of the real estate world,” but added, “Thus far, we have not made adjustments to our agent’s practices.”

Similarly, Mike Opyd of RE/MAX NEXT said that it’s mainly been the status quo, so far.

“However, our agents are taking measures to protect themselves,” he said in an email. “There is less handshaking now, and everyone understands why.”

Opyd added that many of the agents there are carrying small bottles of hand sanitizer but noted that “overall there is not much change in the everyday business of Realtors.”

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  • Jean Hutson says:

    Hello my friends from around the state…
    Please be cautious and safe! Let’s ask our clients… buyers and sellers to help us make the best decision for them ..some will want to go, some will want to stay….Not everyone will agree…so…Happy House Hunting and Selling!

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