When Life Gives You a Pause, Make It Pause-itive!
“The [real estate] market is experiencing a pause, Ed Daniels of the Vesta Real Estate Group of Holliston explained, “and we are embracing it. We are sensing an underlying demand and expecting this to bust out after the stay-at-home advisories.”
Doriane Daniels explained the pause in this way: “In March, we had a 2- to 3-week pause of uncertainty, but people’s need for housing does not go away. Holliston is a desirable area with a great community and school system, so the volume of buyers may be lower than previous spring markets, but the inventory is low as well.”
The Vesta Group team recognizes the pause as a great opportunity. According to Liz Kelly, “It’s an opportunity to revitalize around our job of caring about people and supporting them.”
Agents must now employ required precautions to keep their clients safe. As Liz Kelly reminded, COVID 19 guidelines are always in place: especially social distancing and staying at home. Agents require gloves and masks be worn by all potential buyers, and no children are allowed in sellers’ homes. “People still have a need to see the home in person,” said Doriane. Open Houses are not allowed. There can be no over-lapping showings.
Although the number of houses for sale in Holliston is low, potential sellers are now moving toward listing their homes. Liz explains, “With COVID 19 guidelines, sellers who had been afraid to list are now moving toward listing since restrictions have necessarily been put in place by State and local authorities. Interest has popped. Some people are surprised the market is so active.”
Liz said that some people who have been in their homes throughout the past weeks want to get out. “They may have been nervous at first, but they now need space for a child to play. Enough is enough!” Spaces that previously worked for some are no longer working. Doriane added, “Some buyers have been at home with Mom and Dad and are looking to get out.”
Tailoring their practices to the needs of clients is important when selling and buying. One client, an older gent living in an assisted living facility, is interested in selling his vacant home where he had lived for the past 40 years. He cannot go home to prepare the house for sale. Strategizing ways to assist differing clients requires care, creative thought, and experience.
The times have also highlighted the importance of a good first impression. Virtual staging is now in play, a practice that is convenient and accessible. The popularity of 3-D tours, videos, and drive-bys shows that today’s buyers know what they want and are “extremely serious. There’s no more window shopping,” claims Doriane.
The State of Massachusetts has also aided real estate sales with recent changes in notary requirements, e-filing of documents, in obtaining smoke and carbon monoxide inspections after closings, and in allowing essential workers in a house prior to its closing.
With electronic submission of paperwork, a practice possible prior to COVID changes, banks became more accessible. Banks and other financial institutions made changes. Drive-by appraisals are now acceptable. Low mortgage rates, presently around 3% for 30 years, increase some individuals’ purchasing power. And refinancing can be completed online.
Nationally projections, according to Doriane, are down 10-20% overall this year, with prices up 1-2%. Twenty-one houses went under agreement or contract last month. In 2019, at the same time, 18 homes were under contract. “Seventeen homes with a sale prior to present restraints closed last month,” said Liz. “The average time from listing to offer is now 27 days.”
First time buyers are presently the largest group of clients. Many can afford a larger home given mortgage rates, and some are driven to buy because of their rental situation. Recently, Doriane said, “An entry-level home had 6 offers! There is a lot of competition for few entry-level homes, those priced around $435,000, on the market.”
Buyers have always been able to get a sense of the community of Holliston through its myriad activities. Ed said, “I used to tell people to attend one of the many fairs, see a game.” Today, there’s more talk about things. “And sharing remotely…the Birthday parades has a website. Things that make the town festive.”
One example of community came from a recent call from a new Holliston home buyer, who had moved this spring so that their child could attend schools and make friends before the summer break. Of course, the best laid plans…but she said there was such an outpouring of love when a birthday parade came by her home. What better message of community than dozens of cars containing kids (unknown to the child) who took the time and energy to welcome “the new kid” and make her feel special!
Additionally, a walk to Fiske’s General Store, the Superette, and the Corner Market and a visit to their websites “hugely shows that when the times get tough, we come together!” claimed Ed.
Thankful for all the ways technology has helped real estate, education and every part of our lives during restrictions, the Vesta Group will continue to have success in bringing new neighbors to Holliston. Each of the group felt the experience of the past few weeks has highlighted and expanded practices that help them to continue to put clients first.