Susan Massa Broker Associate Keller Williams Premier Properties

188 Elm St. Westfield, NJ and 488 Springfield Ave. Summit, NJ

A look at Westfield Real estate Market from January 1 2020 to October 15 2020 By Susan Massa Broker Associate CRS SRES ABR Keller Williams Premier Properties. 908-400-0778

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2019 was a good year in real estate and the focus on 2020 was projected to be the best real estate market in 10 years. January 2020 real estate for our area started out to be a banner successful year all the stars were aligned. In January and February 2020, we saw an increase in sales 13% higher than the previous year and was continuing to climb. This was the result of low mortgage rates, the millennium buyer entering the market, low unemployment, increase in wages and the Baby Boomer adjusting their lifestyle.

As a local Realtor I have seen many changes in real estate, and we have adjusted and moved forward and upward. We have always and quickly adapted to the new lay of the land. But a little virus bug called COVID-19 would make a huge and dangerous impact that would soon be at our doors.

Hence, in March the market activity dropped by 42%, the stay at home, shelter in place, shutter in, quarantine, whatever you want to call it, the result, a halt in home buying and selling, work stopped, people furloughed, schools and businesses closed. But what that little bug virus didn’t know was the amazing minds, creativity, tenacity, bravery, energy, dedication of men and women teenagers and children.

At Keller Williams Premier Properties we quickly pivoted, we were already using paperless transactions, Skype, Zoom, Hangout, virtual tours, 2D and 3D floor plans and photos, information from sellers about their homes. High-end brochures were already part of the buying and selling process of homes.

We established protocols to keep all involved safe with the new Virtual Open House. There were clients that still needed to sell their homes, there were buyers that wanted to find their dream homes, and we had created and adapted to the virtual environment and new marketing platform to assist those involved. The Virtual Open House, the video home tours now include attics, basements, heating and air-conditioning systems that were never part of the marketing. Creating a video of the home is now a standard.

To start digital brochures with the photographs, video walk-through and images of mechanicals location of the home and surrounding neighborhood and the seller's disclosure. To provide extensive Zoom, Skype, Hangout, FaceTime showings as the next step and only conduct an in-person showing if required when buyer has determined this is the right property for them and in order to make a fully informed purchase decision.   

Every interested buyer was required to review data within this brochure. For an in- person showing the buyer and seller needed to sign a COVID-19 hold harmless agreement. All showings were tailored to meet the needs of the seller and the buyer. Social distancing, face masks, booties, gloves a requirement. No more than two adults, no children.

All the closings starting in s March and future closing were and are being held at a social distance, only buyers and title company and the attorney. Closings were taking place at drive through banks, parking lots of the title companies and attorneys offices with limited persons and or in an outside area.

Shuttering in a high rise in Manhattan Jersey City Brooklyn became a problem for many and there was a tremendous influx of buyers and renters to the area market. The buyers took a look at their present home and lifestyle and made decisions to move to suburban communities that would provide more space, a home office since for working from home was paramount, a great community and school district, lifestyle and a backyard.

The out of area client rented and bought homes quickly, in some instances never seeing the home until the closing day. By June 2020 the contract sales increased by 18% higher than June 2019. The buyers and sellers with the use of the new protocols allowed them to move up, down and forward.

This was an unprecedented market, an anomaly, a bubble. At this point the mortgage rates dropped again and with the low inventory created in some instances of multiple bid contracts that resulted in asking price or over asking price, streamlining the buyer’s contract and quick closings.

By July through September the sales increased and stabilized but still higher than 2019, however the inventory decreased making the selling process a little frustrating for buyers but the homes that where is in the market were adjusting their price point to attract a buyer. The area market can slow and stall when the homes available to a buyer exceed a fair market price and buyers walking away to find a better purchase somewhere else.

We are in the midst of October sales and looks very promising. It’s as if this is the spring market we should have had. Buyers and sellers wish to make their move before year end. The mortgage rates still historically low the unemployment rate decreased, businesses have opened and it seems the worst of COVID is behind us. At this point in time I am optimistic. My focus is to provide the best real estate experience to my buyers and sellers and provide my pulse on the market daily. 

Stay safe and well and happy. My best to all,