“Three months ago, when everything looked so dismal, we would have never expected what we are seeing now,” said Marilyn Jones, an Ebby Halliday Realtor working in the Richardson office.
Data from the Collin County Association of Realtors show the city’s number of new listings and pending sales were up in May, signaling a mindset shift among buyers and sellers whose confidence in the market may have faltered due to the virus.
Spring is normally a busy time of year for real estate, Jones said. Shutdown orders led to a near halt in viewings in late March and early April, but as businesses began to reopen, a sense of urgency returned.
“We had 30% more showing this May than last May,” she said. “Once people did start to come out, they came out in large numbers.”
New listings in Richardson dropped by about 23% from March to April, but then increased by about 59% from April to May, according to the association. Sellers are capitalizing on low housing stock, which drives up demand from buyers, said Angela McCants, a Realtor with Dave Perry Miller Real Estate.
“We don’t have much inventory, and [Richardson] is a popular place to live,” she said. “So it’s a really good time for someone to put their house on the market.”
There were about 200 homes, or 2 months worth of inventory, on the Richardson market in March and April, according to the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center.
Homes in a specific price point, between $200,000 and $350,000, are highly coveted in Richardson and tend to fly off the market, said Carie Dallmann with JP & Associates.
“That’s the price point that gets you the best house for your money,” she said.
The number of homes under contract followed a similar pattern, according to the association’s data. From March to April, the number of pending home sales fell by about 18%. The following month increased by 46%.
The uptick in purchases could be explained by buyers looking to take advantage of record-low interest rates, Jones said.
“People that have been hesitant before to stick their feet in the pond are ready to at least investigate the possibility,” she said.
Favorable rates are also giving younger buyers the confidence to take the plunge, said Luke Hamlett, a loan officer with Supreme Lending. This also has an effect on the price of homes sold, he added.
“I am seeing a lot of the younger crowd,” he said. “The new homebuyers, they’re not buying these big mansions—they’re buying a starter home.”
In Richardson, the average price of homes sold was $292,279 in February. The number peaked in April, when the average home sold for $346,854, according to Texas A&M.
More time spent at home is also causing some buyers to rethink their space, said Dallmann, who expects to set a record month of sales in July.
“People are downsizing because they’ve got too much house, or they’re upsizing because they don’t have enough room to get away from their kids,” she said. “It’s kind of gone either way, but I have not been this busy before.”
Last October’s tornado had a greater effect on Richardson's housing market than the coronavirus, McCants said. Homes in hard-hit neighborhoods were pulled off the market, either because they were damaged or because sellers believed the area had lost some of its appeal.
“Our neighborhoods looked like a war zone,” McCants said. “And who wants to move into that?”
There were 301 Richardson homes on the market in October, according to Texas A&M. That number dropped to 244 and 198 in November and December, respectively. The average prices of homes also decreased by about 9% to $304,110 in November, the data shows.
The market is still recovering from the storm, McCants said.
“There are still homes today that are not fixed that are making the neighborhood look not as desirable as it once did,” she said. “Our trees were a huge factor in desirability, and many of them were blown away.”
Despite market disruptions, homes in Richardson remain in high demand due to its quality schools, jobs and industries, McCants said.
“When you look at the total picture of what you’re getting, in terms of education, the city services, the feeling of being safe, there is a more desirable draw,” she said.