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Co-founders of @properties offer predictions, advice in the face of COVID-19 fears

by Meg White

While there’s no shortage of economists and industry experts offering their thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic will impact business, sometimes you’ve got to go local to get an accurate forecast.

“There’s no such thing as a national housing market; things are very supply- and demand-driven locally,” @properties co-founder Thad Wong noted in the company’s most recent episode of its Real Estate Market Outlook video series, filmed via video chat on April 1. Wong was joined by his fellow co-founder, Mike Golden, and Peter Olesker, executive vice president of developer services and corporate communications for @properties.

To Wong, both real estate and the city of Chicago offer bright spots for local brokers. “I am very bullish, especially in Chicago,” he said. “Chicago has a ton of corporations still moving into the city, and we are doing well as a city.”

Golden agreed. “Given the foundation of the market right now … we are in a very, very good position,” he said in the video, noting that levels of homeowner equity are high and the housing market is not overvalued, as it was heading into the last recession. “We are an underbuilt market right now. … At some point that demand is going to have to catch up.”

In terms of residential real estate in general, Wong said he thinks the current stay-at-home order will motivate more people to invest in homes. “The appreciation for the home has never been greater than it is now,” he said, adding that he believes that hard assets such as real estate will see the highest levels of interest from buyers when compared to other investments over the next year or two. “There will be a lot of pent-up energy to move on and move forward with life.”

Another bright spot is generational in nature. Though he noted that the future actions of millennials are notoriously difficult to predict, Wong cautioned viewers to not discount their potential contribution to the recovery. “I’m betting heavily on millennial participation in the next buying wave,” he said. “They just spent a month in their one-bedroom apartment or their studio … They’re seeking some permanence and some space.”

For agents who are wondering how best to counsel clients at this uncertain moment, Golden noted that buyers who remain active in a slower market could easily gain the upper hand. “If your job situation is solid and you feel comfortable, I would say it’s still a great time to move forward,” he said, noting that low interest rates are just part of the equation. “Obviously sellers are more motivated right now, particularly the ones who are in the market.”

Golden added that buyers who decide to sit this one out could come back to find higher prices. “We do feel that there will be price appreciation as the dust settles,” he said.

Wong’s advice for sellers was to stick it out and try to capture the imaginations of buyers who are stuck inside, dreaming of their next home. “Unless they’re pulling a home off the market to improve it … it’s silly to take it off the market right now,” he said. “And guess what? When that buyer is finally comfortable walking through that home, they’ve built up this sense of urgency and excitement to be there, and as long as it meets the majority of their requirements, they’re going to put in an offer.”

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