Real estate agents in Greater Houston area adjust to social distancing measures

(Courtesy Fotolia)
(Courtesy Fotolia)

(Courtesy Fotolia)

Since late March, the Houston Association of Realtors has stopped any public open houses due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders in place all across the Greater Houston region, said Chaille Ralph, the vice president of operations for Houston-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene.

“I do think Realtors are adjusting to different ways of doing business,” Ralph said. “Certainly, as a listing agent, we're used to meeting people at the homes or opening up the homes for open houses. As buyers agents we're used to touring every home the buyers interested in.”

How are Greater Houston-area Realtors faring during this time?

Conducting virtual showings and virtual open houses has become a strong part of our industry right now. Agents and companies have been very proactive and really trying to figure out better ways to get clients to see the home through 360-degree tours and 3D images so that people can kind of walk through the home virtually. People are conducting physical showings. But in many cases, that's only if it's a serious buyer. I do have agents that are out showing, you know, two to three times a week because they have buyers that need to find a home. We all need a place to live.

Is now a good time to buy or sell a house?


It's important that a buyer or a seller consult with a Realtor to really understand what's happening in the market at the time because it can change. Inventory typically is low across the board. Obviously, some neighborhoods may have more inventory than others. Interest rates are low, so it's a great time to buy. Interest rates are low, so it's a great time for a seller to have their house on the market because there's buyers out there looking.

What type of relief can homeowners seek on their mortgages during this time?

I think the sooner a homeowner contacts their lender, the better off they'll be. I mean, obviously, it's going to change from lender to lender, I'm sure. But all the advice I've ever given anybody is to contact someone as soon as you know you might need help, even if you're not sure if you're going to need help yet. We don't do property management, but I know some property management companies have said let us know as soon as you know you might need help so that we can figure out a way to work with you. Not that we're waiving anything, but we'll figure out how to make things work. But if we don't hear from you, then we expect you to pay.

What long-term effects do you expect for the real estate market in the aftermath of the coronavirus?

I think if we knew how long we were going to be on stay-at-home [orders] or social distancing, we’d have a better idea. I mean, if we come out of this in the next two weeks and we can start to get back to a new normal it'll be less than what it could be if it goes on. More than the pandemic, I think, our economy is crucial to us being able to get everybody back on the ground. A lot of people have lost jobs. So we need people employed. I don't think we've felt the full effect of it yet. And it's hard to tell what it will be but I do think that we're anticipating slowdowns in the 50% to 70% range at least probably for the next 90 to 120 days.
By Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.


MOST RECENT

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Sugar Land- and Missouri City-area higher education officials said they agree: There is no one-size-fits-all solution to educating students amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Chase Brooks/Community Impact Newspaper)
Despite COVID-19 challenges, Fort Bend County higher education institutions continue to recruit, graduate students

Sugar Land- and Missouri City-area higher education officials said they agree: There is no one-size-fits-all solution to educating students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is the latest case, hospitalization and vaccine data from Fort Bend County. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nearly 30% of eligible Fort Bend County population fully vaccinated against COVID-19

From March 26-April 8, the county reported an average of 91.6 new coronavirus cases a day.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Hope for Three is celebrating its 10th anniversary during autism awareness month. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sugar Land autism nonprofit Hope for Three celebrates 10th anniversary in April

April is the month dedicated globally to autism awareness.

Students returned to Fort Bend ISD's Meadows Elementary School on April 5. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Meadows Elementary School opens doors to Fort Bend ISD students April 5 after rebuild

The school was completely rebuilt as part of the 2018 Fort Bend ISD bond.

Service King specializes in dent removal, bumper and fender fixes, and car body painting. (Courtesy Service King)
Service King to open Sugar Land collision repair center in mid-April

This will be Service King's 28th Houston-area location.

"Flower of Diversity," a mixed-media college and acrylic paint on canvas piece by Rhonda Radford Adams, will be one of the six works featured in a mural at the University of Houston at Sugar Land. (Courtesy Reginald Adams/Diversity Over Division)
Mural coming to University of Houston at Sugar Land highlights Fort Bend County's diversity

The mural is part of Diversity Over Division—a collaboration between Fort Bend County, the University of Houston at Sugar Land and Fort Bend County Libraries.

Officials from Houston Community College, Texas State Technical College, University of Houston at Sugar Land and Wharton County Junior College discussed the latest news from their schools. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Q&A: Hear from leaders of 4 Sugar Land, Missouri City-area higher education institutions

Officials from Houston Community College, Texas State Technical College, University of Houston at Sugar Land and Wharton County Junior College discuss the latest news from their schools.

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers coming to Katy; Gyro King opens in Sugar Land and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Less than 25% of American office workers have returned to in-person office settings since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
DATA: Texas metros lead the nation in return to in-person work since start of pandemic

About 37% of Houston office employees had returned to in-person work as of the end of March, as compared to an average of less than 25% in other major U.S. metros.

Gyro King serves six different types of gyro, including lamb, chicken, fish and falafel. (Courtesy Gyro King)
Gyro King opens newest location near Sugar Land Town Square

The restaurant serves six different types of gyro and held a grand opening April 4.