Looking to buy or sell in the pandemic? Here are the new North Texas rules.
BY JOSEPH GUINTO PUBLISHED IN D MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2020
Nothing is normal in this year of the pandemic. That includes Dallas’ housing market, which is hot in a really strange way. One real estate agent describes the situation as “a near frenzy.” Another calls it simply “weird.”
Back in early March, it was neither. It was normal. Houses were selling at a brisk pace. The market wasn’t as hot as it was in, say, 2016, but sellers were still making a buck and buyers had to work to find a deal. Then the coronavirus arrived. In-person home showings were disallowed. By May, according to the MetroTex Association of Realtors, residential sales in Dallas County had fallen 35 percent from their level in May 2019. The median sales price was down 4 percent. Some said the housing market would continue to suffer for months, maybe years. It didn’t.
In that same month of May, after Dallas County had declared real estate an essential business and reopened in-person showings, the sagging market sprung to life. “I have not seen anything like what happened after we became ‘essential’ in the 16 years I have been doing this,” says Faisal Halum, head of the Faisal Halum Group, which sells high-end properties for Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International. “It was a near frenzy. We have had to work seven days a week to keep up.”
By June, six out of every 10 houses on the market received multiple offers. Only Boston had a more competitive market that month. As demand here surged, supply ebbed. Many homeowners understandably decided not to sell during the pandemic. So in June, according to MetroTex, there were 20 percent fewer homes on the market than had been available in June 2019. Still, total sales were up 16 percent that same month, and prices rose 2 percent across the Dallas area. In neighborhoods like Lakewood, the Park Cities, Preston Hollow, and suburban communities bordering Lake Lewisville and Lake Ray Roberts, the price spikes were far higher. Some homes were selling within just 14 days, and near White Rock Lake and Turtle Creek Park, homes were selling for 25 percent more than they had been before the pandemic, according to agents.
Somehow all of that happened even with the virus out there, even with surging numbers of new cases and deaths in the Dallas area, and even as hundreds of thousands of jobs were evaporating. And now, even as the global economy continues to sputter with uncertainty and virus outbreaks happen worldwide, many experts believe the Dallas real estate market will stay frenzied—and healthy—for the rest of this year. Yes, this market is weird.
Here are some of the ways it has changed and may continue to evolve.
1. Buyers want to move up, not move out
They say density is dead. They say that in the post-pandemic future no one will want to ride trains, buses, or even elevators. They say that the pandemic will drive us all farther away from each other. City dwellers will skedaddle to the suburbs, suburbanites will make an exodus to the exurbs, and exurbanites will run to rural areas where, one presumes, they’ll grow hemp and make moonshine.
They are probably wrong about most of that. “None of my clients are getting out of Dallas proper,” says Jennifer Cloud, owner of Prominus, a real estate agency that has represented properties stretching from central Dallas to Rockwall. “In fact, none of my clients are even remotely saying they want to leave the city.”
That’s not to say buyers aren’t interested in places where they can escape the city or the suburbs. They are. But only for vacations. “The market has just skyrocketed for lakefront properties,” Halum says. “People aren’t thinking about vacations that involve getting on a plane. They’re thinking about a place they can drive to in a couple hours.”
2. Out-of-towners are still buying…
3. Buyers’ needs have changed…
4. The market’s moves will be hard to predict…
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