The market and our world have changed dramatically since our last update of a month ago. At the end of February, we were experiencing low inventory and upward pressure on prices throughout Western Washington including and especially in Seattle and the Eastside. We were in the classic supply and demand squeeze favoring sellers.
With the COVID-19 outbreak and the recent “Stay at Home” order which just took effect today, the landscape is rapidly changing. And unfortunately, virtually all our reporting sources only release data monthly so March statistics will not be available until the first week of April.
Here is what we do know. Real estate transactions that are pending (under contract but not closed) will be allowed to close as we are an adjunct to the financial system. There could be logistical delays to closing due to reduced staffing levels of the closing service providers. To date, we have not seen many delays and closing providers are considered essential.
At this moment new listings are still coming on the market, though at a slower rate. We have a surprising number of new sales as well. In fact, from what we have gleaned from some preliminary reports, our company’s Eastside numbers look almost exactly like March of 2019. In fact, as recent as yesterday, we were still receiving anecdotal evidence of multiple offers on some homes. And as of this writing, we certainly have seen no downward pressure on prices. So any slowdown, which we know we will see, has just not showed up in any of the reporting cycles.
According to the Governor’s order, Real Estate Brokers are allowed to practice remotely. Listings can be taken, and contracts can be written electronically. Properties can be viewed via video tours. Personal inspections can be written into a contract to occur after the order is lifted. There are still some details that need to be clarified in the order regarding how appraisers and building inspectors might operate.
While it may seem inappropriate to discuss business during these stressful times, we are only reporting what we are seeing on the street. As of today, there are buyers who want to buy and sellers who want to sell. We intend to facilitate the needs of those buyers and sellers while obeying all applicable laws, orders and safety protocols.