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Despite coronavirus, Springfield real estate agents say market is hot

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Make sure you’re aware of these expert-approved tips before buying your first home.

USA TODAY

According to local real estate agents, the market is hot in spite of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Home prices are up and interest rates are low.

If you’ve been considering putting your home on the market, they say now is the time. 

Homes listed for $300,000 or less are especially in demand, said Rob Bell, president of the board of Greater Springfield Board of Realtors.

While home buying and selling looks a bit different these days as agents work to keep clients safe, Bell said the Springfield area has seen almost the exact same number of home sales as it did this time last year.

Buy Photo

Relator Bud Jones places a for sale sign at a house in Nixa on Thursday, May 21, 2020.  (Photo: Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader)

“We are really going strong. We had a really strong January and we actually had a really strong March,” Bell said. “Nobody knows what tomorrow brings, but we are still seeing it as a seller’s market for sure.”

The real estate industry was deemed an “essential business” and allowed to continue operating during the recent shutdown.

Jeff Parker, with Murney and Associates, said he noticed a small decline in the number of contracts during the first week or so of the shutdown. 

“There have been a number of sellers kind of on the sideline,” Parker said. “I’m assuming that as we open up and as we get into summer, that you’ll see inventory ease up where there will be some more homes on the market.”

If you’re in the market to purchase a home, interest rates are “historically low,” Parker said.

“If a first-time buyer is getting into the market, they’ve got an opportunity for great rates,” he said.

Karen Best, an agent in Branson for 14 years, said she’s seeing similar trends in the tourist town.

“When a property goes on the market, we are encouraging our buyers that they need to take a look at it,” Best said. “If it meets everything they want in a home — the criteria checks all the boxes — we encourage them to look as quick as possible. Because of the trend of it selling faster, you need to look at it faster.”

A different way of doing business

As with most every industry, real estate agents have found new ways of helping clients while still keeping them safe.

Best said agents are having “huge success” by hosting virtual open houses. They are also doing agent-only open houses, setting up a specific time when just agents can tour the home. Best said the agents on her team haven’t done traditional open houses in years. 

“In Springfield, I know they are popular,” she said. “But in our area, we didn’t host them before COVID and we are not hosting them during COVID.”

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Best said agents are working closely with sellers to ensure agents are showing the homes in a ways that keeps homeowners comfortable.

That might mean that showings are done virtually only. More likely, though, it means buyers are encouraged to wear masks, gloves and booties, as well as refrain from touching cabinets and countertops when touring someone else’s house. 

Agents are now asking homeowners to leave all interior lights on and interior doors open to cut down on the need to touch surfaces. 

“Used to, people would come to town and they’d want to see 15 to 20 properties. You would feel like a tour guide at times,” Best said. “Now, it’s narrowed down to basically two or three — what is your top two or three? These are the ones we will look at. The buyers are being I think a little more savvy on their end, as far as making sure that the property does fill the criteria they are looking for.”

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Parker, with Murney, said agents in Springfield are doing a lot of virtual showings using Zoom and Facetime.

“We are also trying to make sure than when we do show a property face-to-face, that it’s the decision-makers only,” Parker said. “We are not trying to bring an extended family in to view the house, just the ones who are going to make the decision to buy it.”

Gone are the days when an agent would load potential buyers into his or her personal vehicle for a day-long properties tour.

“Most agents are taking their own vehicle and having the clients take their own vehicles,” Parker said.

Read or Share this story: https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2020/05/28/springfield-area-real-estate-agents-market-hot-coronavirus-covid-19/5212433002/

2020-05-28 15:03:00

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