The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s normal activities to a certain extent. When face-to-face interactions become difficult, if not impossible, it can impact a person’s ability to do their work effectively. When that person is a real estate agent, the job becomes even more challenging. However, recent data shows that Atlanta realtors are doing better than most across the country as they fight back during the pandemic.
Atlanta Real Estate Market
The real estate market in Atlanta has been growing steadily over the past several years and was in “hyperdrive prior to COVID-19,” as described by Jennifer Pino, the president of the Atlanta Realtors Association. The area is attractive to real estate investors as well as to home buyers and renters. The cost of living is reasonable, especially when compared to other larger cities and Atlanta has become the place to be for young professionals.
Overcoming COVID-19 Challenges
In Atlanta, as well as in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and Austin, Texas, real estate agents are “fighting back” against the pandemic and against restrictions that might have kept them from being able to serve their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Agents in the city and the surrounding areas have made sure that state and local governments acknowledge that they are in an essential job so they could continue working.
To keep themselves and their clients safe, they have been figuring out how to use masks, gloves, and disinfectants. They are working to make their clients feel comfortable about listing, showing, and viewing homes. They’re also finding ways to complete almost every aspect of the real estate transaction virtually.
Once Atlanta realtors were able to venture out again, they learned that they should go to homes ahead of time, to open doors and turn on lights, so buyers and their agents wouldn’t have to touch anything. They also learned about social distancing, that they should ride in their own cars while clients rode in theirs. And they learned how to do as much as possible remotely, including FaceTime home tours.
Kudos to the Atlanta Real Estate Community
Jeremy Crawford, head of Atlanta’s Multiple Listing Service, says, “You have to give a huge amount of kudos to the real estate community. They learned how to show homes and sell homes and still practice social distancing.”
When the pandemic hit, Atlanta realtors petitioned Georgia’s governor and the mayor of Atlanta, to ensure that everyone in the real estate business, from agents to appraisers, would be able to continue to conduct business. While most transactions could be conducted virtually, including showings and closings, appraisers were the only ones not able to do their work remotely.
Even though a virtual closing can be extremely challenging, Georgia eventually allowed virtual notaries to oversee buyers, sellers, and their respective attorneys remotely. They can now use Zoom meetings to go through the paperwork, after which the documents are sent to the attorney’s office for the official stamps.
Real Estate Growth
As a result of the Atlanta realtors fighting back during the pandemic, real estate listings and new inventory actually grew in the first week of April compared with the same period a year earlier. Almost every other major metropolitan area in the country experienced a sharp drop in both categories over the same time period.
Pino recognizes that the outbreak in Georgia came later and was not as severe as that in California, New York, or some other parts of the country. In addition, the real estate market was incredibly strong even before the pandemic, which helped support the Atlanta realtors’ success in their efforts to see the business continue during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Data provided by MarketNsight shows that 2020 Atlanta new pending home sales are up 19% over 2019 sales through August of this year. Monthly year-to-year increases over 2019 were 28% in May, 31% in June, 38% in July, and 42% in August. New pending sales have now been positive year-to-year for a total of 25 weeks and negative year-to-year a total of seven weeks. Of those seven weeks, six coincide with the pandemic – March week two through the third week of April.
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