Each week I have been checking the MLS to see how many homes are being listed afresh and how many are going under contract as the Covid-19 stay-at-home order remains in place.
In last week’s column I reported that during the 7-day period from Sunday April 5th to Saturday April 11th, a total of 819 homes within 25 miles of downtown Denver were entered on Denver’s MLS, This past week — from Sunday April 12th to Saturday April 18th — that number dropped slightly to 799. Of those, 23 had already been sold privately, compared to 22 the previous week, so there were only 776 new active listings last week. Amazingly, 114of those went under contract by Saturday, compared to 124 the previous week, despite stricter enforcement of the “no-showings” guidance from the Division of Real Estate. Another 74 of those new listings went under contract by Tuesday evening, April 21st.
Bottom line? The roughly 50% drop in listings from previous years which we saw last week has become the “new normal” for the current situation in which in-person showings are not allowed until a buyer has signed a contract to buy a home.
This is actually a great time to list your home! The fact that so many buyers are still submitting offers without even seeing a home in person should inspire more sellers to offer their homes for sale. Just be sure you do it with a narratedvideo tour like we do for all Golden Real Estate listings.
Each week I have been checking the MLS to see how many homes are being listed and how many are going under contract as the Covid-19 stay-at-home order remains in place.
For the weeks of March 22nd and March 29th, the market showed surprising resilience, with statistics comparable to prior years. Now let’s look at the statistics for last week.
During the 7-day period from Sunday April 5th to Saturday April 11th, a total of 819 homes were entered on Denver’s MLS, REcolorado, within 25 miles of downtown Denver. Of those, 22 had already been sold privately, so there were only 797 new active listings. Of those, 133 were already under contract by Saturday. A total of 25 were immediately withdrawn or expired, many of them likely because of the no-showings rule, which was issued that Monday.
This is a huge drop from the same 7-day period in 2019, when there were 1,631new active listings, 227 of which had gone under contract by the end of the same 7-day period.
In 2018, the numbers were similar, with 1,588new active listings, 579 of which went under contract within the same 7-day period.
In 2017, the numbers were also similar, with 1,633new active listings, 663of which were under contract by the end of the same 7-day period.
The numbers were equally impressive in 2016.
Bottom line? We are finally seeing about a 50% decline in new listings, but many of them are still selling quickly. Sellers who do list their homes may benefit from the lack of competition.
…that is, if the listing agent does what Golden Real Estate has done for over 13 years — create a narrated walk-through video of each listing.
Our narrated video tours are just like a showing. They are live action videos which start in front of the house (just like a real showing) and then go through the house and into the back yard, pointing out features as we go.
Check out the video tours for any of our current listings at www.GRElistings.com to see what I mean. They really are like an in-person showing with the listing agent. For example, the video camera points down to the floor and up to the ceiling as I describe the hardwood floor or the sun tunnels which bring natural light into the home’s interior.
But, you say, you’re not going to buy a home that you can’t see in person. Right? You don’t have to, because the rules allow for inspection once the buyer has signed a purchase contract. Your visit (presumably with an agent) the very next day constitutes an inspection. That can be before you even have to deliver your earnest money check, since you may not even be under contract yet. The guidance from the Division of Real Estate says, “home inspections and final walkthroughs after a buyer has signed a purchase contract (emphasis added)… is also considered to be an essential part of the real estate transaction.” The buyer is not under contract simply by signing a contract that has not also been signed or countered by the seller.
That “guidance” from the Division of Real Estate was issued on April 9th and has not been updated as of April 18th, which is when I am updating this blog post.
However, Scott Peterson, general counsel for the Colorado Association of Realtors, maintains in a video recorded from quarantine on April 15th that the governor’s executive order prohibits any “marketing” that involves entry into a property – no photos, no video, nothing at all – without a contract in place. If that’s true, however, why isn’t it reflected in the April 9th guidance and why hasn’t that guidance been updated?
I tried Googling the governor’s executive orders and looked at his web page on www.colorado.gov/governor and saw only two executive orders on other matters and no link for all his executive orders. So, for now, I lack evidence of Scott Peterson’s claim and am relying on the April 9th guidance, which I keep checking for updates.
Therefore, a visit to the home by a buyer immediately after signing an offer to purchase the home does, in my opinion as a broker, comply with guidance currently in effect from the Division of Real Estate. Then, if the buyer is able to get under contract with the seller, he or she can schedule a second inspection by a professional inspector.
So, here’s a possible scenario: You look at the video tour of the patio home or the ranch-style luxury which you found at www.GRElistings.com. I guarantee you’ll have a pretty good sense of the home from viewing that video. You’ll experience the flow from kitchen to dining room, to family room, to back yard, etc., because you are being walked through the home. It is not a slideshow of different rooms, giving no indication of flow from one room to the next.
Let’s say you call me or your agent to submit a contract and let’s say that it is accepted by the seller. You’re under contract! The typical contract has a 7- to 10-day inspection period. You schedule your personal inspection with your agent (or me, if you don’t have one) the next day, before delivering your earnest money check, which is typically due in 3 days. You can terminate immediately if you have buyer’s remorse, and go back to looking at other houses.
If you don’t terminate, you still have a week to hire a professional inspector and submit a detailed inspection objection.
What if you’re a buyer, and there’s no such video for a house that interests you, but you don’t want to sign a purchase contract? I believe you’ve got three choices here. One, your agent (me, for example) could ask the listing agent to create and provide a narrated walk-through video. Second, I could preview the home for you since the guidance make no mention of banning previews, and shoot my own rough-cut video tour of the home, post it as an “unlisted” video on YouTube and send you the link. Or, third and perhaps best, we could use Facetime, Zoom, or another app to have you see what I’m seeing as I walk you through the house. (NOTE: Scott Peterson believes that previews and videos shot by anyone other than the seller are not allowed. I just don’t have any documentation supporting that position.)
Therefore, while it may be inconvenient not to have an in-person showing of a listed home, there are work-arounds that can make it possible to get under contract and confirm your interest in the property before you are fully committed to it or put down any earnest money.
Finally, I’d like to note that many listings are empty and vacant. I see no reason why in-person showings of those listings should not be allowed. I know that builders are letting buyers view their empty homes. Again, Scott Peterson maintains that empty homes cannot be visited either. Show us the actual orders from the Governor or guidance from the Division of Real Estate, Scott!
“Hundreds of sellers pull their homes off market,” read the lead headline on the Business page of last Friday’s Denver Post, but the first sentence of the article noted that “thousands [of sellers] went the other way, rushing to list their homes before a major downturn made a sale tougher to achieve.”
The reporter was referring to March statistics quoted by the chair of the market trends committee of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.
Let’s look at the actual numbers. Yes, 184 listings that were entered during the month of March were “expired” on the MLS by month’s end. Another 443 listings were “withdrawn,” which means the listing agreement is still in effect, but it is not displayed on the MLS until it is made “active” again.
However, 3,525 listings entered last month are already under contract as I write this on April 5th, and another 467 listings have already closed. Of the ones that closed, 179 were sold before being entered on the MLS, and of the 308 that were exposed to MLS users as active and had already closed by this past weekend, only 13 took longer than a week to go under contract.
As I write this on April 5th, there are still 4,289 listings that were entered on the MLS during March and are still active.
So, yes, 184 sellers decided not to sell during March, but 8,122sellers made their homes active on REcolorado during March and did not withdraw or expire them. Another 443 sellers kept their listing agreement active but without exposure on the MLS. Presumably their listing agents can still sell those listings privately, perhaps keeping their entire commission instead of having to share it with a buyer’s agent.
So the headline was sort of accurate.
By the way, unless the practice has changed since I was a reporter at the Washington Post and then a headline writer at the New York Post, reporters have no say in the headlines that appear above their articles. Instead, a headline writer on the “copy desk” reads the article briefly and writes a headline that fits the assigned character count. As a result, sometimes the headline doesn’t truly reflect the gist of the article, and that may be the case with last Friday’s article.
From the New York Post, I went on to publish several community newspapers in New York City and instructed my reporters to write their own headlines, not knowing what the character count had to be, so the editor had the reporter’s headline as a guide as he rewrote it to fit.
Getting back to real estate — sorry, I had to vent! — here are the numbers from March 2019:
A total of 7,968listings were entered as “active” during March 2019, which is fewerthan this year, even if you include the 70 listings that were withdrawn by month’s end. So, not only was the headline misleading, but this March showed increasedactivity over March 2019.
The fact that 70 listings were expired prematurely in a “normal” month suggests that not all 184 expired listings this year should be attributed to Covid-19.
The market was “hotter” last year, in that over 400 of that month’s listings went under contract in less than 7 days compared to just under 300 this March.
I invite any and all reporters writing about real estate statistics to let me fact check their conclusions prior to publication. And suggest your own headlines!
The Denver real estate market, based on my own analysis of REcolorado listings, showed continued strength last week, despite the imposition of a statewide stay-at-home order by Gov. Jared Polis that Tuesday.
To my surprise, despite the growing COVID-19 threat with all its expected economic impacts, a total of 1,799 listings went “active” on REcolorado last week — that is, between Sunday the 22nd and Saturday the 28th.
Although 53 of those new listings were taken off the market the same week — likely because of the stay-at-home order — and 24 of them were entered as “sold” without ever being active, that left 1,722 new listings on the market, and 387 or 22.5% of them were under contract by week’s end. That does not sound to me like a real estate market that is stalling because of the COVID-19 virus.
It makes me wonder about those 53 listings that were pulled off the MLS because of the stay-at-home order. How many of them would have been under contract by now had the sellers and their listing agents not been overly cautious?
The homes that went under contract within their first week on the MLS ranged from a 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo for $100,000 in the Windsor Gardens senior community south of Lowry to a 4-bedroom, 4-bath home for $1.3 million in the foothills northwest of Boulder. The median price of those homes was $425,000.
To see how last week compared to “normal,” I researched the listings that were first entered on REcolorado during the same seven days in 2019.
Surprisingly, slightly fewer homes were entered on Denver’s MLS during the same 7 days a year ago — 1,727. Of those, only 12 were taken off the MLS that same week. Another 73 were entered as “sold” that week. Of the remaining 1,642 listings, 670 or 40.8% went under contract within a week. That’s much higher than the 22.5% this year, but consistent with the slowing of the market which we saw before the advent of the virus. Those 670 listings which went under contract within 7 days last year ranged from a $95,000 condo in Aurora to a $1.5 million dollar 6-bedroom home in South Boulder. The median listing price was $395,000.
As you might guess, I was concerned about whether the new Lakewood ranch listed by me last Wednesday would get any showings, since showings didn’t begin until Friday, three days after Gov. Polis instituted the stay-at-home order. I needn’t have worried. We had five showings by Sunday, with one agent calling to ask if we had any offers yet because his buyer was interested in submitting an offer.
Also on Sunday, a buyer I hadn’t heard from in months called about seeing a new listing. I set a showing for that afternoon, and the buyer is considering making an offer.
All in all, then, this market continues to surprise me. While it is slower in terms of activity, there are still many serious buyers willing and able to make offers on new listings. Those buyers who are unable or afraid to make an offer, whether for economic or health reasons, are not calling us. Agents might appreciate the fact that only serious and qualified buyers are going to call about seeing homes for sale.
Meanwhile, sellers who want to sell should recognize that there are serious and qualified buyers out there and consider putting their home on the market. Just make sure you use an agent like us at Golden Real Estate who does narrated video tours of listings.
We and our partners in real estate continue to work while adapting to the COVID-19 guidelines for physical distancing, minimized travel, and more. Inspectors are still inspecting, but they don’t want buyers or agents in the house with them. Title companies are still doing their title searches and conducting closings, albeit with attention to sanitizing rooms and some physical distancing. Mortgage companies are still doing their jobs, as are the appraisers they hire.
Meanwhile, real estate brokers like us are still showing homes, writing contracts, negotiating inspection issues just as we always have — that is, by phone and email — and going to closings, although even that could be more virtual, now that Gov. Polis has issued an executive order saying that Notaries can work virtually.
What’s different is the cancelation of all kinds of meetings, open houses, and in-person continuing education classes (which are still available online).
That keeps us all at home, which is where most brokers work anyway, but with fewer reasons to leave. I’m walking the dog more than ever. My Apple watch tells me that I completed all three activity rings last week. Woohoo!
Bottom line: I’m sort of liking this, although I do look forward to getting back to normal.
We Realtors are keenly aware that the COVID-19 outbreak will affect the real estate market, but we’re all waiting to see that happen in a more measurable way. We’ve seen a reduction in showing activity, but homes are still being listed and keep going under contract, especially in the higher price brackets.
I dropped in on an open house Sunday and spoke with the agent on duty. This was a million-dollar listing on Easley Road, north of Golden. I showed up two hours into the open house, and he said that he had already had about 10 sets of visitors. Indeed one visitor was in the house when I arrived.
Two Saturdays ago, I had my best open house ever at a $580,000 listing in Golden proper, and 18 agent showings had been set for that same day. Two days later, the home was under contract for $620,000. Other than bumping elbows instead of shaking hands, it was pretty much business as usual.
I’m under no illusion that the market won’t slow down as more potential home buyers are unable to get mortgages because they were laid off. Cash buyers may be less willing to sell depreciated stocks to buy a home. But that’s not happening a lot yet. A local TV news program had a segment Saturday evening in which a local real estate agent gave a similar account of a busier-than-ever real estate market.
My broker associates have seen some impact. One of them told me a buyer had terminated a million-dollar purchase because they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to sell their current home.
Another broker associate reported that his buyers are moving forward with their contract on a home, but only because they have stable jobs — one a physician and the other a public defender.
A third broker associate has a vacant land listing that had failed to sell for three years but suddenly has multiple buyers talking to her about submitting offers for it.
Another broker associate has a buyer from Connecticut who is retiring and wants to move to Colorado but had to cancel her flight because of COVID-19. Her state has instituted a stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, she told our agent that she’s now thinking more about looking outside the metro area where there’s “more space.” Maybe she’d like Kim Taylor’s Cedaredge listing featured this week!
The same broker associate said that a buyer from Chicago had been planning to make a non-contingent offer on a home but now wants to make it contingent on the sale of his current home because of concerns that it may not sell as readily now.
Yet another agent has a client who was ready to list their current home and buy another but is a physician concerned about getting infected herself, so she is holding off on those plans.
The MLS statistics above show that life goes on across our industry. Homes are still being listed, going under contract and selling. However, the 21 withdrawn listings and the 25 back-on-market listings are likely homes where a contract fell, perhaps because of COVID-19.
Like any business, Golden Real Estate is adjusting to the situation with new practices and procedures. We carry disinfectant wipes and rubber gloves in our cars, and we have buyers meet us at listings instead of carpooling. At our office, we have disinfectant wipes handy for wiping down hard surfaces after we or visitors touch them. When it’s warm outside, we keep our front door open so that visitors (and we ourselves) don’t have to touch the handles at all.
Title companies are adapting, too. I attended closings recently at which the closer handed out only new pens and wore blue gloves herself, and the rest of us were spaced out more than before around the closing table. One title company is doing “drive-through” closings, in which the documents were passed through the car window for signing!
The real estate industry will survive and people will still buy and sell homes, but we expect the volume of sales to decline. How much we can’t be sure.
Stay-at-home orders and the closing of businesses, as implemented this week, could have a big effect, but real estate was exempted from that ruling as an “essential professional service.”
For over decade, Golden Real Estate has created narrated video tours of its listings. For an example, click on any of the listings at www.GREListings.com. If all brokerages did this, it would greatly reduce the need for open houses and in-person showings.
This was sent to me by a school classmate. I Googled this doctor’s name and he speaks with authority. I haven’t seen this information or advice in the media!
Notes on Coronavirus for guidance: Good luck to all of us! James Robb, MD FCAP
1. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold 2. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose. 3. This new virus is not heat-resistant and will be killed by a temperature of just 26/27 degrees. It hates the Sun. 4. If someone sneezes with it, it takes about 10 feet before it drops to the ground and is no longer airborne. 5. If it drops on a metal surface it will live for at least 12 hours – so if you come into contact with any metal surface – wash your hands as soon as you can with a bacterial soap. 6. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. normal laundry detergent will kill it. 7. Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Try not to drink liquids with ice. 8. Wash your hands frequently as the virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 minutes, but – a lot can happen during that time – you can rub your eyes, pick your nose unwittingly and so on. 9. You should also gargle as a prevention. A simple solution of salt in warm water will suffice. 10. Can’t emphasize enough – drink plenty of water!
THE SYMPTOMS 1. It will first infect the throat, so you’ll have a sore throat lasting 3/4 days 2. The virus then blends into a nasal fluid that enters the trachea and then the lungs, causing pneumonia. This takes about 5/6 days further. 3. With the pneumonia comes high fever and difficulty in breathing. 4. The nasal congestion is not like the normal kind. You feel like you’re drowning. It’s imperative you then seek immediate attention.
BIO: As some of you may recall, when I was a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, I was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses (the 1970s). I was the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Since then, I have kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple clinical transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread in the US by mid to late March and April.
Here is what I have done and the precautions that I take and will take.
These are the same precautions I currently use during our influenza seasons, except for the mask and gloves.
1) NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc. 2) Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove. 3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors. 4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts. 5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been. 6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands. 7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!
What I have stocked in preparation for the pandemic spread to the US:
1) Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas. Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs) The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth. 2) Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth – it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth. 3) Stock up now with hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective. 4) Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.
I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defense against it.
Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. BUT, there will be NO drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.
I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic. You are welcome to share.