| The Stokes Group | By Anslie Stokes

The last few weeks have been marked by news and developments on COVID-19 that change and evolve daily, and in response we are all focusing on key elements of needed adaptation to protect ourselves and our communities. Economic activity is slowing down, and at The Stokes Group, we are paying close attention to the reality of this disruption, and how it informs the ways we steward our clients’ real estate decisions.

While we have undoubtedly yet to see the full impact on real estate, we do know that we entered this time of uncertainty with one of the best real estate markets we have seen.  We had incredibly low inventory, historically low interest rates and strong demand from buyers.  And thus far, those conditions still exist.  Even as we have all started to stay home and more businesses are closed to the public for our mutual protection, almost 2,000 homes went under contract in the metro DC area in the last seven days.

Here are the steps we are taking as a team: 

  • We are actively engaged in marketing listings and seeking out inventory for our active buyers
  • We continue to negotiate offers, home inspection notices and appraisals
  • We have shifted to 100% full time remote work. Everyone on our team is working but exclusively from home
  • We are handling new client consultations virtually using Zoom, FaceTime, RingCentral, etc.
  • We are offering virtual tours of all of our listings in lieu of open houses
  • We are not allowing overlapping showings of listings and requiring all buyers to follow CDC guidance during showings
  • We are in constant contact with all parties for clients currently under contract to ensure that we can get to closing safely and on time

Here is what we are seeing in the market:

  • Properties continue to be listed but the pace is slowing
  • In-person showing activity is declining but online views of properties is sky-rocketing
  • Properties continue to be put under contract but at a slowing rate
  • Properties are being taken off the market at an accelerated pace. These are sellers who don’t “need” to sell right now
  • The less than 20% down jumbo loan (loans above $765,500 in our area) market is disappearing and the options that remain are expensive and unstable
  • The 2nd trust market is stable for now but we expect it to contract soon
  • Closings are taking place and lenders, title insurers and local governments are rapidly accelerating their acceptance of electronically notarized documents
  • Language has been created and is being used in new contracts to address unforeseen or unavoidable delays during the contract process. Referred to as the ‘Covid Addendum’, it is not perfect but it is fair to both parties
  • Many stagers have stopped staging homes but most other professionals in the home buying/selling process are still working

What do we expect in the future? 

  • There will always be people who need to move and we’ll continue to support them in every way possible
  • We will continue to adapt to and follow all CDC guidelines. The safety of our team and our clients are our #1 priority
  • There will be fundamental shifts in housing needs when we get to the other side of this pandemic. The extent and depth of these shifts will not be immediately apparent but we’re watching for early signs and will help our clients adjust accordingly

How can we help you?

  • Are you working though a refinance? Let us know if you need comparable sales or tips on getting the house ready for your appraisal or finding a tittle company who will allow you to sign remotely
  • Considering DIY home improvement projects? Reach out and we’ll virtually help you assess those improvements with resale considerations in mind
  • Need a critical house repair? Construction is deemed essential and all of our trusted vendors are currently still working. We can help you troubleshoot and refer you to a vendor if needed

Housing remains critical to our economic, social and physical well being. We know we’ll get through this and we’re here to support you in anyway possible. Buying or selling in this market is an intensely personal decision. If you need to make a move then reach out for a confidential virtual consultation.

The Stokes Group is a team of dedicated professionals who have passion for the real estate business and will advocate for our clients with the utmost honesty, integrity, and confidentiality. We believe in building solid relationships with our clients and that starts by getting to know who we are. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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