South Jersey real estate market to emerge from coronavirus in a better place
The South Jersey real estate market is slightly down this year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting business shutdown.
But local real estate agents are not concerned.
They actually think the situation of quarantining, social distancing and wearing masks out in public, will lead to positive changes for the industry long term, leading to more virtual tours and consultations, increasing the use of e-documents and a better understanding of what a home should be.
The agents believe those changes will help them, and their buyers and sellers, as well as the South Jersey region in general.
High inventory and casual shoppers may or may not return in the years to come, but either way, local agents said, the new market will feature a more thorough and efficient process, quality homes for working and raising families, and buyers who are ready to close.
During the pandemic, to circumvent the sudden and widespread closure of physical society, South Jersey real estate agents have resorted to a variety of digital tools to move deals along.
Virtual tours may change process for better
Virtual tours and consultations and e-signatures on documents have been particularly useful, according to several agents.
“Normally we’d meet at a coffee shop or office,” said Tom Wenger, an agent who sells primarily in Burlington and Camden counties. “Now I can do it right from my house.”
But Wenger and other agents do not expect these tools to replace getting together in person. Instead, they expect them to become part of a larger process, and a part that will make the process more thorough and efficient.
For example, as Wenger said, the typical buyer looks at 10 to 15 houses before narrowing down to a final three or four. While the buyer will still want to see the finalists in person, the initial step, of finding and touring 10 to 15 houses, may be done online moving forward.
A virtual tour may also allow buyers to see the finalists multiple times before making a final decision. It will not replace the in-person tour, but it will add a layer to the process that will help families understand the homes they are looking at.
“You have Realtors and agents who will use their iPhones with the lens,” Wenger said. “Virtual tours will be enhanced and that will help the process.”
Stay-at-home order have made home buyers more aware
Spending more time at home is giving everyone a better understanding of what they want out of a home, and getting them to think of homes as more than just places of leisure and family time, said several South Jersey agents.
When the pandemic ends, prospective buyers will emerge with a deeper and more detailed vision of what they want in a home, and they will be thinking of homes as a sort of personal headquarters. This will make them more likely to sign on the dotted line once they see something they like.
“When we rise from this, homes will be more important than ever,” said Michelle Carite, a real estate agent who sells mostly in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. “Each person knows what they would need to be locked down again.”
“This has put into perspective people’s needs,” added Sarah Johnson, an agent who services Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem and Atlantic counties.
Inventory is low; Effiency is high
Almost every South Jersey real estate agent will point to one predominant trend during the pandemic: Inventory is low, but batting averages are high. When a resident or couple enters the market during this situation, they are ready to buy.
“It seems to have weeded out the people who aren’t 100% ready to go,” said Justin Kelly, an agent who sells in Burlington and Gloucester counties. “The buyers coming out now are serious, pre-approved and not kicking tires. These people want to move.”
Kelly and other agents believe that, since the process is more thorough and efficient and more people know what they want, the percentage of closed sales are likely to remain high.
Prospective buyers who just want to shop will of course come back when society reopens, but not in droves. Instead, with more virtual touring options as opposed to just pictures, those types of buyers will probably more often limit themselves to online searches.
“I don’t know about people having open houses in the future,” said Bethany Jenkins, a resident who sold her house in Delran earlier this year.
All of these factors should make the South Jersey market reliably prosperous, according to several agents.
That’s because the region is a mostly suburban area with a lot of sizable homes and properties that can stand up after a thorough process, serve as both an office and a home, and convince buyers to make the final move.
Plus there’s also another, probably more important factor: In a post-pandemic landscape, which will likely still include at least some social distancing measures, people are going to want space. In other words, they are probably going to want suburbs.
“If I’m quarantined, all of a sudden the 700-square-foot house with the city restaurant nearby isn’t so glamorous,” Wenger said. “All of a sudden a yard and a lot of house is looking really appealing.”
Read the full article at Courier Post.