Friday, July 03, 2020

Just when we thought we are finally making progress from the lockdown restrictions of being totally homebound, the fear of the invisible enemy has now been dwarfed by the mass protests for justice filling our streets. There was “no time to breathe” as the pandemic transformed into mass crowds of marchers for a cause overtaking the country’s concern both in America and abroad.

Perhaps this is the way we are easing back into life, or rather, transforming fear of the unknown into an expression of defiance for improvement. What is ironi,c from my perspective, is that the world has been unified for a cause since the virus erupted. Whether it be combating the COVID-19 pandemic for survival or unifying to protest social justice, the world has never been this united with common agendas and strength to persevere. It is truly a phenomenon of change and it is both concerning and enlightening where we are headed.

But, instead of solving world problems, let’s get back to our daily lives and choices. From a realtor’s angle, my job is to focus on housing trends.

The ripple effect of the pandemic seeped into the housing market for strange occurrences as well. During the restriction on open houses and a reluctance for many homeowners to allow for interior access, virtual reality tours have become the mainstay. Now I am sure many of you are thinking that you could never buy a home or put in an offer on a house that you have not seen inside. Well, strange as it may seem, multiple offers were elicited from virtual tours while interest continues to peak in certain locales and markets with competitive offers escalating a purchase price when it was priced accordingly. Surprisingly, the non-access to the interior did not deter buyers in many cases.

To reflect on the past, which now seems so long ago, some listings in suburban towns outside of New York City sat on the market for years only to realize their final sales due to the results of the pandemic on housing. The cooped-up urbanites have started to run for the hills, which sparked an uptick in property sales within proximity to Manhattan so that these former urbanites wouldn’t have to be in the heart of the congested city. The high-rise penthouses, with the only way to get down being riding on a confined elevator, became less appealing than the backyards allowing for space, privacy and distancing within your own domain.

Reports on houses in rural areas sitting over 1,500 days, sold right away. In addition, before the pandemic era, buyers had all the time in the world to knock, build and wait for the perfect home. Yet now, with the pressure of moving the family to a safe haven as soon as possible, as long as the toilet flushes and they can move in quickly, this trumps waiting for the perfect home with brand-new kitchens and renovated bathrooms. Larger homes have rebounded and are now back in vogue, as they allow for dual working spaces and spacious sheltering in place if need be all over again. City studio apartments and pied-a-terres are falling out of favor as lifestyles and needs are evolving.

So, here you go....thought you figured life out till now. The monthly indicators report that despite the stock market significantly recovering in March, the effects of COVID-19 on the economy continues to build. It is hard to accept that real estate activity in April slowed significantly, a result of 20 million people filing for initial unemployment nationwide, with nearly 600,000 claims filed in the state of New Jersey alone. Single family closed sales were down 21 percent with townhouse-condo sales down 29.7 percent. (Please note the median sales price for single family homes increased 12.6 percent to $490,000, while townhouse-condo median sales prices increased 4.5 percent to $350,000.)

It makes sense that the effects of COVID-19 do vary and predictions that social distancing, higher unemployment and lower overall economic activity is likely to continue to constrain real estate activity in the near term. The industry has adapted by conducting business using technologies such as virtual showings and e-signing to help buyers and sellers achieve their goals and dreams amid these challenges.

Yet, with all these variables for considerations, home is still truly where the heart is...go for it!

Ruby Kaplan is a realtor licensed in both New Jersey and New York. Visit www.rubybobbyhomes.com for more information. The Ruby and Bobby Kaplan team/United RE/ will promote your home with the best of social media and create alerts for your criteria of housing needs. Your Housing Needs Are Our Priority! Ruby can be reached at (201) 314-4152 or on her cell at (917) 576-4177 or at [email protected].