The market (OK, life in general, who are we kidding) has been crazy since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Will things be different this year? Danielle Hyams of The Escape Home spoke to several estate agents to get their thoughts on what buyers can expect this year.
On the market
While it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon, some relief might be in sight.
“I think we’re going to be a seller’s market through the end of the year, into 2022,” said Melissa Principi, Hamptons-based realtor at Douglas Elliman. “I don’t think he’s going to have that fever he had last year. It really depends on the location. I think interest rates are going to go up this year and that’s really what everyone is predicting. I think it will kind of help normalize the number of buyers. And I think everyone saw the numbers last year – so I think a lot of people are deciding: do we move, do we sell, do we capitalize on this seller’s market? So I think the combination of more inventory and a bit higher interest rate for borrowers will finally start to cool things down a bit.
At the open doors
Sorry fans, but real open days may be a thing of the past. And most (but not all) real estate agents are thrilled with it.
“I really don’t think open houses are good for anything,” said Felicia Beltran, agent at Empire Group in southern Colorado. “Before, when it was a big trend, it was kind of necessary because we didn’t have the technology. People couldn’t preview a property at 3am in their pajamas – the internet has changed that in a big way. In my experience, a lot of people who pass by are just beggars. I also think that from a security perspective, it’s just not good practice to expose sellers, their homes on display, to people who may not be qualified, viable buyers. Personally, I’m a fan of pre-approval before showing the property.
So far, most agents haven’t seen the impact of the fast-spreading variant. Not yet, at least.
“Hopefully this second variation won’t stop people from wanting to sell their homes,” Principi said. “When you see your neighbor’s house costing $20,000, $30,000, $50,000 more, people get excited. So if they were considering selling last year, I really want them to feel like they can sell this year and bring more inventory to market. But if they’re scared of having people in their house or don’t know where they’re going to go or they’re not ready to travel, then I think it’s going to put us back in that kind of fever for spring.”
More often than in the past, buyers include the policy on their list of prerequisites.
“These conversations have been increasingly common in recent years,” New Hampshire-based agent Nicole Watkins told us. “It’s not a good idea for real estate agents to get into political conversations, but sometimes buyers feel so strongly and want to know your perspective on a neighborhood’s political leanings.”
Stamford, Connecticut-based agent Alexa Kebalo-Hughes echoed that sentiment. “That’s the last thing I’m going to comment on with people, but it absolutely comes back,” she said. “And I’ll tell you firsthand, a lot of the agents that I know in Florida, they’ve had a lot of movement to their state for that very reason. So that’s absolutely a factor.
On affordable homes – or lack thereof
“It’s really sad and really scary,” Principi said. “Who drives your ambulance, who teaches your children science, who is the nurse at your local hospital? If they can’t afford to live, or if we don’t put better systems in place…I’m curious to see how cities react to that because it’s their problem, it’s their infrastructure and it’s ‘crazy.
By buying now
“If I could shout from the rooftops, if anyone is looking to move, especially someone who is a buyer, someone looking to sell their house and buy something bigger, do it,” said Kebalo-Hughes. “I think a lot of people remember when the market crashed and a lot of people wonder if it’s going to happen again and I think they really need to know that yeah there’s no ball of crystal, but all the senior leaders are saying we’re gonna be okay, so I want people to be more empowered and less scared and just do the thing that they need to do. In a market like this, those are the people who are on the sidelines who will regret having moved.”