As coronavirus impacts home showings, Atlanta real estate market takes a hit, adjusts

Year after year, springtime proves to be one of the best seasons to sell an Atlanta home.

That is, until a pandemic seized control of the global economy.

In response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, real estate agents in Atlanta and beyond have been forced to change the way they market properties. Despite coronavirus concerns, more than four dozen new or revised listings have appeared in the City of Atlanta alone in the past 24 hours.

Engel & Völkers Atlanta, for instance, told Curbed Atlanta its agents have shifted toward digital tours, utilizing online 3-D showings to showcase units at 40 West 12th, a luxury residential high-rise planned for Midtown.

Meanwhile, homebuilder JW Collection has pivoted its sale team to operate on an appointment-only basis, an effort to decrease the amount of people coming into its offices and homes.

Other changes have dealt a tough hand to Buckhead’s real estate market, which was otherwise in good shape, according to Ben Hirsh, a leading Realtor writing for Buckhead.com.

“The global uncertainty, drop in the stock market, and travel limitations have suddenly tapped the brakes on an otherwise healthy Buckhead real estate market,” Hirsh reports. “It’s happening at the worst time of year—when the spring selling season typically kicks into high gear as families look to buy and sell before school begins again in the fall.”

A chart with red and blue bar graphs on it. Buckhead.com

While buyer activity has certainly dipped, it hasn’t stopped entirely, Hirsh said. Some folks see this crisis as an opportunity to buy a home with less competition.

Hirsh wrote that he’s continued showing properties—“and even a few open houses”—with extra safety precautions, and without handshakes.

But, since Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently issued a 14-day stay-at-home order, the Realtor worries the days of showing homes in person are likely over for the foreseeable future.

Comparing the first three weeks of March this year and last, Hirsh noticed a considerable drop in new listings and contracts.

That should come as little surprise, as a report by software firm ShowingTime indicates showings in North America have declined between 38 and 45 percent in just the past two weeks.

And things aren’t expected to get better soon.

“I do not want to minimize the health risks posed by the Coronavirus/COVID-19… however, the economic costs are far more apparent in our community than any health costs at the moment,” Hirsh said.

“The lack of economic activity will surely take a toll on jobs, businesses, and real estate sales in the short term,” he added.

Hirsh recommends that buyers keep an eye out for low-competition opportunities, sellers “stay the course” and “deals will still get done,” and for those not selling their homes, “keep an eye on interest rates, and refinance when they get to the right point.”

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