The arrival of spring typically means the start of home buying season, where sellers prep their homes for “a new beginning” and buyers keep their eyes peeled for the perfect new home. This year, however, the bulbs are blooming and the fresh coats of paint coincide with what the World Heath Organization has declared as a national pandemic.
Can Michigan’s housing market weather COVID-19?
I’m sure a question on the minds of many: Is the market entering a crisis? Maybe, but it will be nothing like last time.
Here is the thing, the market is entering this “crisis” on solid footing, unlike the market of 2006-2008 and as the stock market declines, real estate may be a more appealing investment.
In the last 30+ days, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on every facet of our lives. But that isn’t disastrous news, we have survived hard times before, and this is nothing like the last time. For now, the housing market is proving more resistant to the pandemic than other sectors of our economy. In 2007, the economy was already in a weakened state and there was a HUGE insolvency with the banks. But in this case, the fundamentals of the economy were strong until COVID-19 swept the nation leaving the effect to be different in each city, and we all know that the West Michigan market was “on fire before this,” a sellers market, with “less than a month of inventory” says Michael Childress of GRAR.
Arguably the biggest challenge for real estate agents, buyers, and sellers is social distancing, which is an uncharted territory. Never before have agents had to operate in a market where they were unable to physically meet with their clients and tour homes, thus taking to digital solutions to keep the market running. Yes, many listings have gone the route of the virtual tour- but it is much easier to commit to a property via virtual tour for a weekly rental vs. buying your next family home. If you are already in the market for a house, all of this uncertainty must have you worried about the direction of the market. The reality of the situation, home sales will/have dropped dramatically, BUT it’s difficult to do business as usual with a shelter-in-place order, therefore putting the market on PAUSE.
So now what? Take advantage of time. Never before have sellers had so much time to prepare their homes for sale.
Sellers: Do all of the things leading up to listing your home that you never had “time” for.
Take the time to declutter, make your move effortless by organizing all of those cupboards and drawers now. Make a donation pile for all of those kitchen gadgets you haven’t used in a year and clothes you have saved for nearly a decade “hoping to get back into” Marie Kondo your home BEFORE moving, don’t take that stuff with you. It will make packing your things so much easier.
Take the time to pre-pack. While you are preparing to stage your home for photos and open houses, depersonalize it and pack those items away asking yourself if the items “spark joy” prior to putting them in a box.
Take the time to finish that project list. Put a fresh coat of paint here and there (yes the paint stores are still open- call ahead, they will mix your paint and have it ready for pick up. (They even bring it out to your car, just share the make, model, and color at the time of your order.)
Take the time and get out the magic erasers and deep clean. Power wash your deck, clean those windows, rake the lawn, add some curb appeal…you could get more money in your pocket at the time of sale.
Most importantly, take the time to reach out to an agent, let them know your intentions, send them photos of your home, or take them on a FaceTime tour and ask them what they think and/or have them offer suggestions on how to increase your bottom line.
Take the time to reach out to an agent. They have time and want to talk to you. Pick their brains, after all they are the experts. Talk school districts, commutes, neighborhoods. Give them your “wish list” and budget so when the market opens up they are prepared.
Last but not least, take the time to breathe: its a scary time for all of us, but West Michigan is a community filled with hard working people who rise to a challenge.
Lastly, We leave you with this...“The last time housing led the recession…This time it’s poised to bring us out.” Ali Wolf, Chief Economist with Meyers Research. We are not in a recession yet, we’re about to be in one. BUT this time all signs point to the housing markets leading the economic recovery. Use your time to prepare for when we hit the pause button again, and the market opens up but in the meantime stay safe West Michigan.