Residential real estate trends have been slightly altered as the coronavirus pandemic creates a new normal life environment, local real estate agents said.
According to Ray Wade, a broker and the owner of Legacy Texas Properties, local homeowners are looking to get out of the more densely populated areas by moving farther outside of Houston.
“There is a trend for people to want bigger yards to be a little farther away from each other,” he said. “The Magnolia area seems very popular right now; people are moving away from crowded suburban environments.”
As a consequence of COVID-19 forcing places of work and schools to close this year, Wade also said some people have been looking for houses that can better accommodate working from home and at-home learning for children.
“People [are] wanting to move to a house that better accommodates a lot of people being home,” he said.
More affordable houses have also been selling very well currently, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
As houses continue to sell despite the ongoing pandemic, Jeff Anderson, sales manager at Guild Mortgage in Tomball, said business has not slowed.
“We have been busier in the last four months [than we had been] year over year. We are up 30%,” he said.
Anderson said with interest rates being so low, many people have recently been encouraged to buy or refinance their mortgages.
“Refinances are very attractive, particularly for people who bought a home in 2017 or 2018, when interest rates were higher,” he said.
The Federal Reserve is artificially keeping interest rates low, according to Anderson, and he said they will continue to stay low through 2021.
Anderson said this has resulted in potential homebuyers making multiple offers over listing prices on houses worth $300,000-$400,000—something Anderson said is unusual for the area.
Anderson added while the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Mortgage Forbearance is complex, real estate agents and homeowners have become more acclimated to it in recent weeks.
“When it first came out it was extremely confusing for all of us; [now that we have had some refinement from the agencies] more people are comfortable using it,” he said.
In the future, Anderson said increased foreclosures are a possibility; however, he said he does not believe there will be a spike due to COVID-19.
“I see where people who have been out of work and weren’t eligible for the CARES Act, maybe because they were self-employed, where it could hurt that classification of borrower,” he said. “We are going to see an increase in foreclosures, but it is not going to be a spike.”
Although real estate agents and mortgage brokers are staying busy, LaRae Whorley, a broker and the owner of LaRae Whorley Realty Group, said while the economy is currently in a recession, it is an event-driven recession rather than a truly economic-driven recession.
“I think we will bounce back, and it might take a year to see a full normal real estate market.” she said.
Whorley said this also depends on the real estate markets in the Houston area, as some markets are struggling more than others.
With the current housing shortage, Renee Leslie-Buckhoff, a broker and the owner of RE/MAX Elite Properties, said the need for housing has not lessened throughout the pandemic.
“Even though the sales volume is a little less, the prices have not gone down,” she said.
Leslie-Buckhoff said families with school-age children should look at how school districts have responded throughout the pandemic to determine if it matches their children's needs.
However, Leslie-Buckhoff said some sellers are still hesitant to put their homes on the market right now.
“I had some people that were planning to sell and move back into town [from Tomball], but with the virus they said they were staying put,” she said.
Compared to other markets, Leslie-Buckhoff said Houston responds better when situations like this occur.
“One of the greatest things about Houston and our market is that we respond modestly to price increases,” she said. “Rarely do we see a spike that is going to drive the market up and then a crash right after.”