June 19, 2020
How Rhode Island Brokers are Changing Up the Real Estate Business in the Wake of Covid-19
Buyers are shopping and closing while sellers are listing and selling. Interest rates have reached an all-time low. According to Christopher L. Whitten, president of Rhode Island’s State-Wide Multiple Listing Service, computer database tracking reveals that the 2020 real estate market has been very stable so far with little fluctuation.
The inventory of 3,046 condos and single-family homes presently on the market is holding steady. The 692 homes and condos that have sold so far this year are nearly equal to the 698 properties that had sold at this time last year.
New listings are down by 17 percent. That makes sense when you consider the great degree of uncertainty that has been tossed into the market by the virus. Some sellers are holding off on listing properties while maintaining a “wait and see” mindset.
One powerful virus-related effect is the spike in Rhode Island digital real estate transactions. Buyers and sellers alike are viewing and showing properties online. Electronic transactions can include everything from initial consultations and help with negotiations to social media marketing campaigns and digital signings.
Online transactions are convenient, fast and easy. Still, some are mourning the loss of human interaction. “So much of what we do is person-to-person,” says Buss. “We’ve been reluctant to let go of that person-to-person contact, but we have no choice.”
The virus is making itself felt in other ways. Some sellers are required to leave lights on and interior doors open so that potential buyers won’t have to touch door knobs or light switches.
In support of social distancing and to reduce interaction among buyers, showings are scheduled every hour instead of every 30 minutes. Buyers are asked to limit the number of people in their groups to as few as possible.
Although these modifications may be unwelcome, they keep the ball rolling. The real estate industry can’t just close down because, as Buss says, “Housing is a necessity.”