KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
July 27, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Buying or selling a home? The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted some industries, but the real estate market, especially in Katy, is creating a boom that many hopes is here to stay.
Photo credit: Cinco Ranch Realty Group.
Historically, spring is a busy time for the housing market. During the start of the coronavirus pandemic, real estate was declared an essential business, so the actual shutdown didn’t stop the industry. However, agents had to rethink how to move forward and keep their clients safe.
A Thriving, Busy Market
Amy Lookabaugh, a realtor and co-owner of Cinco Ranch Realty Group says several positive factors are encouraging people to sell and buy in this market.
“The real estate market is hot right now because of the all-time low interest rates, low inventory, and opportunity for people to relocate into the suburbs for more space,” Lookabaugh.
She adds that buyers with school-aged children are looking to make a decision before the end of summer, and the beginning of classes.
“I don’t think anyone knew what to expect concerning how COVID would affect the housing market,” says Kelly Burnett, a real estate agent with Gary Greene. “So far not much changed this summer. It has been very busy.”
“COVID has been very surprising on the effects of the market,” says George Huntoon a local agent with EXP Realty. “There are people doing very well and feel very comfortable in their jobs and the interest rate is so low.”
It's a tough time to be in real estate and for a new agent, Kerri Shultz, this has been an interesting time to dive in.
“For me personally, the market is very challenging for buyers, but sellers are able to sell quickly and get top dollar,” says Kerri Shultz with Keller Williams Premier Realty. “However, deals are falling apart because of job losses due to COVID. But as soon as an offer falls apart, another offer quickly comes in.”
Shultz says homes under $250K are an especially hot commodity. “Homes are getting multiple offers and going over asking price,” says Shultz. “With interest rates so low, families are opting to forego apartment living and choose to buy a home. Many are building new homes and avoiding the competitive nature of buying an existing home.”
“It’s stressful enough to place your house on the market and not really have an idea of where you are going,” says Katy mom Jennifer Bonnin. The Bonnin family had a contract on their home less than 48 hours after it listed.
“It’s a whole other challenge when houses are flying off the market by the hour and your list of prospects dwindles before you can make a move,” says Bonnin.
Hot New Buyer Trends
Agents have adapted to selling during the COVID pandemic but buyer trends are also changing. As more people continue to work from home, the need for a home office is becoming essential. Many families are also considering how to best set up at-home virtual schools.
“We are also seeing a big increase of people moving out to the country,” says Shultz.
With social distancing and restrictions on different businesses, families want to ensure that their home is best set up to give them what they need and want.
Photo credit: Cinco Ranch Realty Group.
“Homes with pools are almost a necessity for most buyers due to COVID and the community pool closures. Homes with a pool, large backyard, and space for outdoor entertaining are flying off the market. Buyers are looking for more space with a home office or room for a home gym,” says Lookabaugh.
Learning Virtual Ways to Sell and Buy Families are concerned about showing their home during the pandemic. As a result, some homes on the market are only hosting virtual tours until the family moves out and they are comfortable with showings.
Lookabaugh says realtors are adapting to a new, more virtual, way of buying and selling homes.
“We are taking all necessary precautions, doing virtual open houses, virtual tours with videos or 3D guided walk-thru tours, Facetime showings. Many families are purchasing homes by only touring virtually,” says Lookabaugh.
“Everything can be done virtual, from meeting clients via Zoom to discuss their real estate needs, and signing paperwork without meeting in person,” says Shultz. “Virtual open houses are a big thing a well!
Shultz created her own YouTube channel to post videos of listings to help encourage buyers to take a virtual tour.
Keeping Everyone Safe
Masks, shoe coverings, and hand sanitizing stations are now found at open houses to keep everyone safe.
“In a pandemic you worry about letting people in your home,” says Bonnin. “But it’s practically impossible to feel comfortable placing an offer on a house without being there face to face what you are possible getting yourself into.”
“Agents are allowed to hold open houses again,” says Burnett. “But things still moved along when we were only able to do virtual tours (very beginning of pandemic). We are doing everything we can to keep our clients and ourselves safe during this time. We are taking every precaution.”
“Houses are selling so fast,” says Huntoon, who’s worked in Katy real estate for over 26 years. “If a house is in good condition, priced right, they are going very fast.”