The first half of 2020 has come to a close. At the end of the first quarter, the real estate market was showing a strong opening season. Second quarter was met with the COVID-19 pandemic with stay-at-home orders by the Virginia Governor effective March 30, 2020. Unemployment skyrocketed and the financial markets experienced significant fluctuations. All of this impacted the residential real estate market as well as mortgage lending. The good news is that the US Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA) included residential real estate and related professions on the list of essential services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. This included real estate agents and brokers, inspectors, lenders, settlement services and governmental workers who facilitate those industries.
PEOPLE DISCOVERED during this unprecedented time that home is truly “essential.” Shelter went beyond meeting the basic human need and also became for many people their workplace, school for students, location for physical exercise, meal preparation and dining, entertainment, rest and recreation. Governmental officials and medical professionals stated that people are safer at home during the pandemic. People were encouraged to shelter in place and for many it became their sanctuary.
Even during a pandemic, people often have a need and desire to make a move. There are those that discover their family could use more space. Others are looking for more physical distance, moving out of more dense urban areas. Life changes occur including death, divorce, marriage, having children, job changes that lead to making a physical move. People continue to buy and sell homes even during times of crisis. The volatility in the stock market led many people to invest in real estate as a safe haven, as many view real estate as a more stable investment.
The total number of sales for McLean and Great Falls in the first half of 2020 was 525. These numbers mean there were 525 sellers and 525 buyers. And although those numbers are strong for a pandemic, they are down almost 12 percent compared to 595 in the same time period 2019. The good news is the market has considerably improved over a decade ago in 2010 which came in at only 441. That represents an increase in sales of 19 percent over the last decade. Thus even as we as a nation and world were navigating the impact of COVID-19, people still were in situations where they had a need to move.
The most significant gains were in the upper brackets which constitutes homes over $1.25 m, with sales increase of around 11 percent. This could be a strong indicator that prices are rising in the under $1.25 m segment as buyers stretch into the next segment in order to buy. Further, there is considerable demand for under $1.25 m and thus the drop off in number of sales could likely be due to a lack of inventory. Good homes priced correctly for the market are selling.
THE REAL ESTATE COMMUNITY follows CDC protocols to serve clients in almost all capacities in the buying and selling process. Agents continue to list houses for sale, show properties to buyers, write offers and negotiate contracts and settle on transactions. Advanced technology is available such that many services can be performed on digital platforms which includes virtual showings and open houses, Zoom meetings,document eSigning, and online notary cam or drive-by closings.
Karen Briscoe with HBC Group at Keller Williams is an active and experienced Realtor® in the Northern Virginia marketplace. Karen, alongside her business partner Lizzy Conroy and team, works with sellers, buyers, investors and builders in all price ranges. www.HBCGroupKW.com, 703-734-0192, Homes@HBCGroupKW.com.