We are fortunate that life in our section of rural, ex-suburban, New Jersey is very different to what our friends and colleagues are experiencing in nearby New York City and more densely populated areas of New Jersey. We’re all trying to make sense of what’s going on, how our lives have been affected, and what it will mean for our future as individuals, families, and as a society.
With homelife ever more at the center of our focus, many people are asking us how Covid-19 has affected the real estate market. Is it a good time to sell? Is it a good time to buy? What’s going to happen in the real estate market?
We can’t predict the future, particularly when faced with circumstances none of us has previously experienced before, but we can look at the objective data of the real estate market to help us understand what is happening.
Property Showings Are Continuing. The last few weeks have shown a marked increase in the showing activity among New Jersey homes currently on the market as reported by ShowingTime, a tool used by some brokerages to schedule property showings:
Of course, the process for showing properties isn’t like it was before. In the last few weeks, we’ve been showing properties virtually (e.g., using Zoom and 3D interactive tours with everyone at a computer or device, with FaceTime to connect a listing agent with a buyers’ agent and the buyers as they walk through the home and by walking through properties as a buyers’ agent with our buyer clients on FaceTime). We’ve also been showing properties “in real life” taking precautions to protect buyers, sellers, and agents involved.
Interesting Shifts in April Real Estate Market Statistics. We took a look at what’s actually happening with listing and sales in some of our local markets:
The data regarding actual listings and sales show a few things in the short term:
- Available properties: the local residential real estate market has low inventory compared to prior years (For sellers, this is good news — if you’re serious about selling in the near future, your property has less competition.)
- Buyer activity: In many municipalities, buyer activity is lower what it’s been in prior years, but under the circumstances, there are still a remarkable number of properties going under contract despite the obstacles presented by social distancing requirements and economic constraints. For buyers, it’s also good news — it’s still possible to buy a house as sellers, agents, lenders, appraisers, title companies, lawyers, and municipalities have all been swift with modifying normal practices to be able to continue to transact business during the pandemic.)
When comparing these new supply (available properties) and demand (properties under contract) numbers by looking at market absorption, some municipalities (Califon Borough, Clinton Township and Tewksbury Township) have shifted to a seller’s market, while other municipalities (Clinton Town, Lebanon Township, Readington Township, and Long Valley) have shifted to more of a buyers’ market.
We aren’t seeing any clearly-defined trends from the limited April data and expect that as time goes on, the trends will be more clear. We’ll be watching to see what sectors of the market (by geography, style, and price point) do well in a post-Covid19 world, and how this compares to what we are used to seeing.
The mechanics of how Leaf agents work and the advice we give may have changed, but our intent remains the same as it was from when we opened our doors in 2011: to educate clients so that they are empowered to make informed decisions in purchasing, selling, or renting real estate.
If you have questions about buying or selling property in the short- or long-term, we’re available to counsel you on how to achieve your goals and navigate the process and the market.
We look forward to hearing from you.