WLAA: Real Estate market in Washtenaw County is showing positive signs – especially for sellers

To say what we are all experiencing right now is fluid, is an understatement. The forecast is not only cloudy, but the storm we are in at the moment could get worse before it gets better. And that uncertainty is certainly a big part of where we find ourselves in March 2020.

So trying to forecast the future when it comes to the real estate world right here in Ann Arbor, Dexter and Washtenaw County is a very difficult assignment. But what real estate experts can do is inform everyone what is happening right now – as of March 20, 2020.

And while everyone hunkers down inside their homes – hopefully safe and healthy – some may be surprised that not only are homes selling, but it’s very much a seller’s market. So putting your home selling plans on hold may be something to reconsider.

“One of our challenges is that whatever projections we make today may not be relevant tomorrow,” says Dan Elsea, president and CEO of Real Estate One. “But what we do know now (March 20), and have seen over the past few weeks, is that some sellers have concerns over showing their homes during this time.”

Dan Elsea, president and CEO of Real Estate One.

Elsea says while there have been safety concerns with the current coronavirus pandemic, less than 2 percent of their roughly 8,000 current listings have decided to take their homes off the market. One of the reasons is because Real Estate One and other companies have made it their first priority to take steps to help insure the health and safety of everyone.

“Health issues come first and we want everyone to feel comfortable during the process,” Elsea said.

For example, Ewing Pros of Real Estate One, launched their first “Virtual Open House” last week using online technology which featured an agent doing a “live” video tour of the home.

“We had a tremendous response,” said Ewing Pros owner Rob Ewing. “That Virtual Open House tour yielded over 300 likes on Facebook and even several offers within 48 hours.”

Elsea said that so far in these early days of the pandemic, Real Estate One hasn’t seen any indications of major changes in the real estate market, but realistically, “we know it’s going to be there, but it just hasn’t happened yet.”

So, what are they seeing?

“We are seeing buyers, particularly the demand in the 100-400 range, first-time home buyers and move-up market very strong,” Elsea said. “Our open houses and showings this past weekend were very strong. We are seeing multiple offers on some properties so the buyers are out there.

We are in a recession right now and while there is a good chance we are heading toward a recovery, home values will hold strong,” he said. “It’s a little unusual to see this much activity in a recession because inventories are so tight. We still have buyers in excess of demand of sellers even at this very moment with all the concerns going on.”

If someone is considering putting a for sale sign out on the front lawn, Elsea says, “there is not a lot of risk to test the market right now.”

And then there is the other side of the coin – the buyers.

“We had one buyer decide to pull back because he feels like he can get a better price if he waits,” Elsea says. “I would caution buyers on that philosophy. Even before the crisis, inventories were heading to critically low, like record-setting low, numbers. They have bounced back slightly, but I don’t think it’s likely that the home values are going to go down.”

Elsea has a message for home buyers – it may cost you if you wait.

“One thing that will happen is as the recovery occurs, interest rates will go up,” he says. “If I’m a buyer, I would take the low interest rate and don’t worry about a home value that may go down in two months because it won’t go down that much.”

Elsea says the number of showings for Real Estate One dropped about 7-8 percent last week compared to the previous week but the number of new homes coming on the market was close to what is typical for this time of year.

“The upper-end markets will feel it first,” he says. “In many of those cases, the stock market change and financial concerns effects their home-buying decisions.”