May 1 was opening day in Houston and marked 6 weeks since the Stay At Home order was issued in Houston. During Phase 1 of the re-opening, restaurants are starting re-open and some other non-essential businesses, and while we saw restaurants busy immediately, there are still a lot of people who are reluctant to leave home.
Although Real Estate was deemed an essential business and technically remained open, we saw the market slow down at least 50% when the Stay At Home order initially went into effect. As the city starts to re-open, home viewings are picking up as well, but we are not near the normal levels of activity that we should see this time of year.
While no one can predict how and when Houston’s real estate market will rebound, the immediate future is looking brighter every day. As I write this blog on Mother’s Day weekend, my phone is blowing up with inquiries on listings and showings are picking up every week.
In my opinion, there will be a shift in housing needs, and the shift will occur quickly this summer. As we spend more time in our homes (or apartments) we are all reevaluating our housing needs, and in most cases, we had 6 weeks to think about it. The home office and space to home school kids will become an essential in every home for a family, and the desire for outdoor space, including private swimming pools will increase.
According to pool contractors, they have been busier than ever as people invest in installing a private pool in their backyard. Realistically, people will stop going to public swimming pools or attending events with large crowds. Apartment living may lose it’s appeal as populations decide to sequester in a private single family home where they can maintain a distance from other people.
We are all adapting to the “New Normal” and that will include how we live, work, and play. Energy Realty is adapting by learning how we can assist with buying, selling, and renting homes in a world where COVID-19 still exists. In order to make sure that we are here for the public, we have established strict protocol for showing homes and meeting with clients. Out office is now open Monday-Friday, but we will only see clients in the office by appointment only.
Our agents will take precaution to not only keep themselves safe, but also our clients with a strict requirement that all parties wear masks and gloves when needed. When an occupied home is for sale, our agents will accompany showings to make sure all parties that are viewing the home are following our COVID-19 Protocol and keeping the seller and their family safe as well.
In addition to taking extra precaution to keep our clients and agents safe, we are also fast-tracking into a world of technology. Virtual tours are now a requirement for all listings, and we are becoming quite savvy at the Virtual Open House. HAR launched a new Virtual Open House program that allows us to show a property online during a fixed time.
Stay tuned as HAR permits live open houses again beginning next weekend. Energy Realty will be testing open houses again, but we will have to limit the number of people in a home at one time.
It’s a new world out there, but if we work together, we can make it better! Check out my Podcast on the Real Estate and the New Normal with Dawn Moore of Allegiance Title.
Writer – Sherry Campbell