Realtors get creative as COVID-19 pummels the industry

By  | 

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- There is a new state of affairs for realtors. Real estate, like most industries, is in an age of uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic continues to swarm the nation. Some agents are embracing change as they navigate the health crisis.

Coronavirus is forcing real estate agents to get creative with how they sell homes. (Source: Gray DC)

"We give a tour of the house while they're watching," said Heyward Young, describing a virtual tour during our remote interview.

Young is an Atlanta-based realtor.

"We take it from a first-person as a buyer walking up to the front door and walking through the house," said Young.

Young says he is making do in the new-look market, showing houses online. He also does live online open houses for prospective buyers. Young is considered an essential worker in his area, so he can show homes in-person for those wanting to get inside. He says extra precautions and sanitary measures are being taken if that is the case.

"It is definitely stressful," said Young.

Between folks not wanting to leave their homes and those hit hard financially as a result of the virus, he says real estate agents are fighting a multifront battle. Young says deals have fallen through because of it.

"Buyers losing their jobs or being furloughed, they're no longer qualified for their mortgage," said Young.

Despite the economic downturn, Young says people are still buying homes, some even doing so sight unseen in person. Agents are getting creative with finalizing deals, conducting online signings or curbside document handoffs.

The National Association of Realtors says while the industry forecast is bleak, there is confidence in a bounce-back later this year.

"We're seeing a lot of people stall just to a later time period," said Jessica Lautz, the vice president of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at the NAR.

Lautz says the traditionally busy spring for homebuying could turn into a successful fall instead. A recent survey from the NAR finds 90% of their members are seeing a decline in buyer interest; 80% see a decline in houses on the market and about 60% of buyers are delaying home purchases.

Lautz says she hopes realtors do not give up on the industry as they go through this tough time.

"I am hopeful that there's a light at the end of the tunnel," said Lautz.

Young says he sees that light, even if it is distant.

"You adjust and survive the best you can."

Copyright 2020 Gray DC. All rights reserved.