Residential real estate professionals in Texas expect the state's housing market to remain resilient, despite any drop-offs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In February, sales of existing homes in Texas notched their eighth month of growth. But home showings across the state have tapered off in the wake of coronavirus concerns and restrictions. As of March 29, home showings in Texas were down 55 percent compared with their 2020 peak and with the same time in 2019, according to ShowingTime.com.
“The economic and public health response to the novel coronavirus will drastically affect housing market activity in coming months,” James Gaines, chief economist at Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center, says in a March 20 release.
The San Antonio metro area, like its big-city counterparts in Texas, saw a healthy jump in home sales in February — 8 percent compared with February 2019, according to the San Antonio Board of Realtors.
Kim Bragman, 2020 chairwoman of the San Antonio Board of Realtors, says that while February’s figures demonstrated “strength and stability,” the long-term effect of COVID-19 on the area’s housing market is uncertain because “this is such an unprecedented situation.”
“Nevertheless, all of us in the Realtor community are working hard to make sure the homebuying and selling process continues as smoothly and seamlessly as possible for our clients,” Bragman says.
That response includes switching to virtual tours and online meetings, she says, a trend seen across the state. DFW broker Taylor Walcik points out that buyers are still hunting for homes, but they’ve largely shifted their searches to video tours and other online tools.
“The housing market is absolutely still open for business,” says Austin Board of Realtors president Romeo Manzanilla, “but the business of real estate is evolving like we all are through this experience.”
For some potential buyers, interest in the home market has waned. A March survey of 2,900 North American visitors to the website of home marketplace Point2 Homes found that 35 percent had stopped actively searching for a home until the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed said their No. 1 worry was not being financially stable enough to afford a home.
Despite coronavirus-related setbacks, real estate professionals are optimistic about the long-term prospects for the home market.
“There is always a demand for homes, even if people are more cautious right now, and such low interest rates give buyers even greater capacity to purchase,” Bragman says. “Even in the midst of the disruptions our economy is facing, we are still seeing many people looking to buy and sell property, and we are still here to help them through the process.”
Walcik agrees. “I think once we are in the clear and things return to normal, the buyers that would have purchased during the quarantine will still be in the market,” he says. “I think we will see a surge in activity, and we will be playing catch-up and trying to get these buyers under contract for the remainder of 2020.”