Oklahoma City Realtors brace for impact of virus

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The social and economic impact of the coronavirus, not necessarily Covid-19 itself, has homebuyers and sellers on edge and is changing the way Realtors do business.

"To quote my client making an offer on new construction and listing next week, 'Is this coronavirus craziness going to affect our home sale? Should we wait to see if we all live through it?'" said Denise Schroder, an agent with Keller Williams Realty Elite.

That "craziness" was on Realtors' minds Thursday, the day after the World Health Organization first called the outbreak a pandemic and the global crisis hit as close to home as could be for Oklahoma City: a postponed-at-the-last-minute Thunder game before some 18,000 fans' eyes at Chesapeake Arena, followed almost immediately by the National Basketball Association's suspension of all games for the rest of the season.

"My concern isn't so much the virus itself, it's the overwhelming disruption it is and will continue to cause," said agent Erik Love with Ten Oaks Realty. "We have seen some effects in Italy already, where they've temporarily suspended mortgage payments.

"As the virus spreads, more and more places will quarantine, which will lead to missed paychecks, and less overall spending, also potentially leading to DTI (debt-to-income ratio) being thrown off, causing buyers to become less qualified to purchase. I do expect to see a reduction in home sales and prices even after this has passed for some time."

Micah Mruwat, broker associate with eXp Realty, said the eXp Realty national shareholders conference, scheduled for late April in Orlando, Fla., has been moved online. It is not a huge leap for an agent-owned company founded in the cloud 11 years ago.

"Due to the virus and travel," Mruwat said, "our agents are training online as opposed to in an office, and we are finding other companies are reaching out because of the coronavirus to work remotely."

Realtors on Facebook Thursday were bracing for impact.

"I'm not panicking but I do believe we are about to experience a big shift in the market. I've already had several out-of-state buyers cancel trips," one posted.

Another commented, "I believe we are fixing to experience a shift. I see a difference in age groups, my older clients have already decided to wait until after the election."

Another one declared: "If I were a seller, I would NOT want a parade of unknown people going through my house touching things, sneezing, etc."

Nationally, nearly one in four home sellers is wary of strangers and is changing how their home is shown, according to a National Association of Realtors Economic Pulse Flash Survey conducted Monday and Tuesday. Steps include canceling open houses, requiring potential buyers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, asking buyers to remove their shoes or wear shoe covers, and other changes, the trade group said.

In Washington state, the ratio of sellers changing their ways rose to 44%, and in California it rose to 34%, the Realtors reported.

Other highlights from the survey of Realtors:

— 78% said there had been no change in buyer interest due to the coronavirus.

— 16% said buyer interest decreased due to the coronavirus, with members in California and Washington state citing larger decreases — 21% in California and 19% in Washington.

— 87% said the new coronavirus had not affected the number of homes on the market.

Tribune Content Agency
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