In this age (while it has only been a few weeks as of the time of this writing, it feels like an “age”…) of spending copious self-quarantine hours online watching coronavirus cases go up and retirement accounts go down, I welcome you to the online newsletter of the American Association of Retirement Communities, Home Edition.
I don’t aim to talk breezily about retirement trends in this intro note, but there are a few fundamental truths about this pandemic as it relates to the AARC:
- While a tragic number of folks will die because of this virus, 99% of the population will make it through.
- The US economy, while perhaps not as insulated and impervious as we had all perceived just a month or two ago, is resilient.
Please note that I mention this NOT to minimize the pain or the dangers of COVID-19, but to point out that there will be a day when folks will again be seeking retirement destinations. And while we all have little clue about how that destination “shopping” experience might change coming out of this, AARC members are sure to be on the forefront of post-coronavirus best practices.
So, for the time being, stay safe and healthy, and continue to do your part to control the spread of this pandemic. We look forward to assisting with the financial recovery.
Chair, The AARC
The U.S. shuts down, but home selling goes on
Mike Wheatley, RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News | March 25, 2020
Even as COVID-19 forces mass closures across the United States, home selling is still happening. That’s according to Redfin, which says real estate professionals have quickly adapted to working from home.
Redfin said it saw a 494% increase in requests for agent-led video tours last week, following an 80% increase the week before. Most of the requests were for video chat tours, it said.
“The future of real estate has come earlier than any of us could have anticipated,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “The way things are during the pandemic won’t last forever, but at the end of all this, things won’t go back to the way they were either. We hope we’re well prepared.”
Another brokerage, Compass, has debuted new virtual agent services tools for its agents. The tools enable its agents to send live video postcards to clients, conduct VR home tours, 3D home staging and real-time virtual showings, with virtual neighborhood walks too. And other brokerages report using tools such as Zoom, FaceTime and Skype to conduct showings too.
Anthony Marguleas, a real estate pro with Amalfi Estates in Pacific Palisades, California, has created a three-minute video tutorial of how he uses Zoom.
Those browsing Redfin’s listings can request video chat tours from agents by clicking a single button. They can use the video chat app of their choice, too. Redfin is also making technology available so purchasers will be able to review and sign their purchase contracts electronically, in states where it’s permitted.
“During video tours, I become the eye of the buyer,” says Jill Thompson, a real estate pro with Redfin in Indianapolis. “I’m talking more than I would on a traditional tour, pointing out things that would be obvious in person but that aren’t as clear through a camera lens, like the quality of workmanship on any repairs, or whether or not a room would fit a king-size bed.”
February Pending Sales Reveal Healthy Housing Demand
National Association of Realtors | March 30, 2020
Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 2.4% month over month and 9.4% year over year in February—a fresh sign that the underpinnings of the real estate market are strong, even as the coronavirus outbreak poses significant challenges, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Monday. All four major regions of the country saw an increase in pending home sales last month.
Downward pressure on those numbers is expected moving forward, as NAR’s latest housing data reflects a time period before the nation began adopting social distancing measures to control the spread of COVID-19. “February’s pending sales figures show the housing market had been very healthy prior to the coronavirus-induced shutdown,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Numbers in the coming weeks will show just how hard the housing market was hit, but I am optimistic that the upcoming stimulus package will lessen the economic damage, and we may get a V-shaped robust recovery later in the year.”
Given the new social and business realities surrounding COVID-19, real estate professionals have quickly adapted by offering virtual tours of properties online, as well as using electronic signatures and remote closings to keep transactions moving forward. “Many of the home sales that are likely to be missed during the first part of 2020 may simply be pushed into late summer and autumn,” Yun says.