MILLBURN, NJ — COVID-19 has changed the real estate market -- in ways both expected and unexpected.
The winter started out with an early and strong 2020 market, but it quickly slowed down during the quarantine. Only highly motivated buyers and sellers transacted from March through May. The Governor announced that real estate sales would remain essential, and we made sure to put in place safety precautions, many that we are still using now, so our clients and team were able to safely and successfully execute contracts.
As the state is reopening, it now is a seller’s market with buyers from high-density areas like Jersey City, Hoboken, Manhattan and Brooklyn eager to move to the suburbs. Interest rates have remained very low, which makes buying even more attractive -- and with little inventory in the highly desired towns an hour or less from the city, we have seen an uptick in home prices. It is a unique and opportune time to sell for families who want to upgrade their space or empty-nesters looking to downsize.
Today’s buyers are looking for homes that can accommodate the "new normal." A first-floor bedroom remains of high interest, and home offices and gyms have become a more critical need. There is a higher premium on move-in ready homes and well-appointed outdoor spaces like pools and entertainment areas.
Per state guidelines, open houses can now take place with new safety rules. For our open houses, we require masks, gloves and foot coverings. We only allow one group of adults in the home at a time, while other adult visitors wait outside for their turn. Visits are "no touch” and the realtor opens anything a visitor needs to see.
As far as the rest of the real estate transaction process goes, we are happy to adjust to the needs of our clients. I hosted a video walk-through of a property the other day for potential buyers who wanted to see the home virtually before committing to an in-person visit. Some of our sellers are not comfortable with open houses and only allow one-on-one showings. These stipulations are seamlessly accommodated with our goal to make everyone safe and comfortable.
Our business partners are also on board with the changes. We do a lot more business via Zoom calls. When an in-person visit is critically important, like an inspection, the people we recommend are committed to the highest safety protocols.
Because of the changes outlined above, the type of buyers that we’re meeting now are much more serious than ever before. Fewer people are popping into open houses or inquiring about homes out of curiosity. With the proper team in place, you can expect your real estate transaction to go smoothly and safely. If you are thinking about buying, selling, renting or investing, please feel free to call us for an in-depth conversation about how we can meet your goals.
Simon Westfall-Kwong, Broker-Associate
The Simon Westfall-Kwong Real Estate Group
Keller Williams Premier Properties