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The US housing market has been continuously analyzed amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, with many Americans questioning the impact Coronavirus may have on buying a home in their local market. While conditions can change rapidly, Atlanta’s housing market hasn’t seen a drastic negative impact from the virus.
Many people are still looking to buy a house in Atlanta but less are choosing to sell, creating an inventory shortage. The pandemic has forced everyone involved to be a little more creative in order to tour homes and close deals, so we turned to our Atlanta-based real estate agents to share their experiences and knowledge about the condition of the market and answer some questions below.
How are potential homebuyers touring homes right now?
In the age of Coronavirus virtual home touring has been at an all-time high, but does that mean homebuyers are no longer touring homes in person? The city is seeing a fair mix of virtual and in-person tours from those who are looking to buy a house in Atlanta.
“I’m receiving more virtual tour requests than usual, but I’m actually getting less virtual tours than I thought. I’m seeing about 50/50 split between video and virtual tours and in-person tours” says Redfin agent Shoy Cooper.
The majority of buyers in Atlanta, GA will tour homes in person before making an offer. When doing in-person tours, agents are very cautious and pay careful attention to the safety of their clients and the homeowners. When touring homes, it is highly recommended that only 2 people tour the home at a time and wear protective gear, including masks and gloves.
According to Redfin agent Stephanie Beckwith “one thing we see a lot at the entrance of homes is homeowners have hand sanitizer, gloves, and other protective gear. Homeowners often keep all lights on and ask us to not really touch anything.” Even during COVID-19, agents, homeowners, and homebuyers are still able to make the home buying and selling process happen, it’s just a little different now.
Has competition declined? How competitive are the offers on current homes listed for sale?
The competitiveness of the Atlanta housing market is largely based on the original price point. In the current market, those who are looking to buy a house in Atlanta under the $400,000 range are facing a lot of competition. Homes priced in this range, and in desirable neighborhoods are selling quickly and receiving multiple offers.
According to Redfin agent Heather Plaisance, “the sellers that are still active in the market definitely are pricing to sell, or they just have a hot commodity and are continuing to go under contract. What I feel like we’re struggling with is new homes coming available.”
Because the inventory of new homes for sale is low, homes that are fairly priced, and areas with good school districts and amenities are receiving offers and going under contract very quickly. “There are just not a lot of homes and that’s the problem, there aren’t enough homes in the market for the number of buyers we still have” says Stephanie.
As for homes in the higher price range, they are not seeing as much competition. These homes tend to stay on the market longer and receive fewer offers. Overall, the current landscape of the Atlanta housing market is still very competitive as the inventory of new homes listed for sale remains low.
Is there a larger number of offers falling through?
Some agents aren’t seeing listing cancellations and contract withdrawals, while others have reported cancellations due to lending restrictions on those trying to buy a house in Atlanta. Lenders becoming more strict with their guidelines has caused a few offers to fall through.
According to Shoy, “prior to COVID-19 multiple lenders were interested in lending to potential homebuyers. These buyers were in a pretty good spot in regards to their credit scores and finances, but because lenders have become stricter with their parameters, certain amounts that they were comfortable lending allowances for before ended up falling through.”
Other than the complications that come with stricter lending restrictions, agents have not seen many offers fall through due to other circumstances.
Were closings being postponed due to stay-at-home orders? Can you close remotely?
Although many things have changed and evolved during this pandemic, many deals are still being finalized on time, or even early. Due to the competitive nature of the market, closings are rarely being pushed back. In addition, closing attorneys have been getting creative and finding new ways to make closings happen safely and on time. Most eClosings have been done by buyers who are moving to Atlanta from another state.
Shoy says, “curbside closings and eClosings have been the most common. I just had a closing that was a curbside closing. We were able to e-sign most of the documents before we arrived. But for all contracts that had to be signed in person, the closing attorney came out to the car and handed the documents to the buyer to sign as I stood nearby acting as a witness.”
Closings during the COVID-19 pandemic are definitely different but the new process isn’t stopping anyone from purchasing their dream home. “It’s a matter of just changing how you do things and adapting,” says Heather.
Are homes receiving fewer offers?
As Atlanta continues to have fewer homes listed for sale and more competition, homes are seeing more offers. Popular homes are seeing multiple offers, and some of these homes are going under contract within the same day they are listed. Stephanie found that “for homes in the desired price point, and with the low-interest rates, people are still very interested in touring homes and making offers to try to get a home under contract. We are getting into a lot of multiple offers more so right now then in the past.”
Is the current market in favor of buyers or sellers?
There’s a general consensus that the current market in Atlanta is in favor of sellers. We are seeing fewer homes on the market, meaning these homes will most likely sell quickly, and sell close to the asking price. “Sellers are in a good position because there’s just not enough on the market, and they’re pretty much selling at the offer price or over the list price, and maybe a little bit more” says Stephanie.
Although we are seeing a high demand for homes for sale in certain price ranges, we see less competitiveness on homes listed with a higher sell price. According to Shoy, “it’s one of those things where price point makes a difference. The higher you go, the greater your chances are that a seller will be much more flexible to negotiate with you in order to get the home sold.” So for the most part, Atlanta is currently a seller’s market. “Seller’s dictate the market, as long as they have a well priced or reasonably priced home that is marginally appealing it’s going to sell” says Heather.