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How coronavirus is impacting Houston's real estate industry

Real estate agents are finding new ways to connect with clients.

HOUSTON — The coronavirus pandemic is affecting industries across Houston, including real estate. Because of social distancing, sellers are having to make tough decisions about who they let in their homes.

“We’ve been excited, we’ve been waiting to put our house on the market for a long time,” said Joseph Alvarado, who listed his home for sale at the beginning of March.

Then, came the pandemic. Alvarado said he and his wife decided to take their home off the market last week.

“We just didn’t feel comfortable with people coming into our house and us going into their houses,” he said.

Real estate is considered essential, but Keller Williams Broker Associate Callee Maglothin says business has slowed down.

“The coronavirus, a lot of what I’m hearing, is it’s like a pause button on the real estate market,” Maglothin said. “Motivated people are still in the market, but it’s few and far between.”

Maglothin is finding new ways to connect with clients. She’s hosting virtual open houses and giving interested buyers the chance to click through a 360-degree virtual look inside homes.

“With the days on market going up from this coronavirus, a lot of buyers will think they can get a deal and offer a lower price,” she said.

The number of homes sold in Houston in March was actually up 8% from the same month last year. However, keep in mind Houston’s stay at home order didn’t come into play until in the middle of the month.

“I have actually been seeing fewer showings in the market, but more serious buyers,” Maglothin said.

The number that’s more telling, pending home sales looking ahead to April. It’s down for the first time in 15 months.

“It’s kinda like a duel impact for Houston, not only are we dealing with the coronavirus but we are also dealing with the incredibly low oil prices,” she said.

Houston was already seeing oil and gas workers laid off due to low oil prices. Adding other industry layoffs on top of that leads to fewer people being able to buy a new home. The Alvarados just hope the economy reopens soon, so they can hang on to their dream of a new home.

“We just want people to know it can happen to anybody, don’t give up,” he said.

The good news is that interest rates are down, which means you can get more house for your money.

We won’t know the real impact of coronavirus until next month when April’s numbers on homes sold are posted.

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