Fifty-six percent of consumers say that despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they would attend an open house or take a home tour without hesitation, according to the Back To Normal Barometer from research company Engagious. Additionally, nearly half of respondents to the survey say they would return to activities such as taking a cruise, attending a live sporting event or staying at a hotel.
However, an even greater number—61%—are concerned about the overall public health crisis and the U.S. economy, a sign that consumers are more hopeful about their personal circumstances than they are about the country in general.
Restrictions on open houses now range from limits on frequency and duration to required preregistration to full-on bans in some buildings. Prospective buyers should be prepared to swap their shoes for booties before they start counting closets and to keep their (sanitized) hands to themselves.
Over the weekend I was at a dinner party and the conversation came up about the Coronavirus and could it have a’ potential effect on our local Boston real estate for sale market.
This type of conversation is probably happening not just in downtown Boston, but throughout the country, considering the stock market just had its worst week since 2008, and the World Health Organization elevated its virus risk assessment to “very high.” Although at the time of this writing the stock market is up.
We know for a fact that the outbreak is disrupting business and in particular the travel industry. But what about the local Boston real estate market?
I spoke with a number of my colleagues and lenders to get a sense of the current word on the street. Here are a few takeaways:
– The stock market’s tumble has chipped away at Boston condo buyers’ down payment levels, and a couple of agents mentioned that they had buyers who decided against writing offers last week as a result.
– The lenders were quick to point out that interest rates are at record lows, so that may offset the stock market trauma a bit.
– Realtors expect lower open house attendance if confirmed virus cases begin emerging in Downtown Boston. (Let’s just say that I’m not eager to shake hands with anyone these days
Other observers stated that an indirect impact could result from uncertainty and tumult in the financial markets that could lead to a prolonged slowdown in the global economy, which could lead to a slowdown or recession in the U.S. economy and a reduction of buyer interest the Boston real estate for sale market.
I’m not predicting Boston Open Houses will halt. The reality is that people still need a place to live, and there never seems to be enough Boston condo/apartments to meet demand. My advice to buyers and sellers is to go ahead with your Sunday Open House real estate plans—and make sure you wash your hands routinely. And If I don’t shake your hand, don’t be insulted.