If you had told me at the end of March that neither the virus or the stay-at-home orders would have a negative affect on the real estate market, I wouldn’t have believed you. Our team saw about $2.5million in sales disappear in less than a week after the stay-at-home order was issued, with no possibility of any of it returning. We ended up having to lay off all of our employees, if only temporarily, and was only able to hire them back when our PPP loan came through. Like many of our peers that are self-employed or in the service industry, I was preparing for the worst.
What happened instead
We started calling our clients, not asking if they were thinking of buying and selling, just to check on people and make sure that they were doing ok and if there was anything we could do to help. People were glad to hear from us, glad to talk about their concerns, and eager for any updates we might have for them in the future. After the initial pause in the first few weeks of the quarantine, things started moving, and soon we were as busy as ever. Eventually this fervent activity became the norm, and some new trends started to emerge. Here are a few things we’ve seen that we think you should pay attention to:
(1) Everyone should be refinancing
One of the government’s economic responses to the pandemic was to keep interest rates low. If you know anyone in the mortgage industry, they’ve been working with very few days off since the pandemic began. Our go-to mortgage broker, Cody Touchette with Caliber Home Loans, had record-breaking months in March, April, May and June. Bank of America even had to stop taking loan applications momentarily because they weren’t able to meet the sudden demand. I just submitted my loan application to Cody to refinance my primary residence and I’ve been quoted an interest rate below 3% with a savings of over $600 off my monthly mortgage payment. If you haven’t refinanced this year, and you plan on keeping your home for several more years, I highly recommend that you apply for a refinance to see how much money you can save. You can use this link to apply with Cody and his team:
(2) People are being more intentional with how and where they live
Working remotely might have been the biggest experiment of the pandemic era, and after seeing the results from the past few months, employers are embracing it. Microsoft just announced that they are allowing more of its employees to work from home permanently (for at least part of the work week), and other local companies have transitioned to remote work entirely. That has opened up housing options for many, meaning that they no longer have to live as geographically close to commercial, industrial and retail hubs.
The effects of this are far-reaching. Many people would go to the gym on their way to-or-from work; grocery shopping trips became planned events instead of spontaneous pop-bys; our normal routines became monotonous quickly, and we looked for deviation. With gyms closing and remote work becoming an option, we’ve had many clients reconsider their housing needs to include a home gym, a home office, a craft room, garden spaces – even large shops. In the face of so many options being stripped from us, we are becoming more intentional about how – and where – we live.
(3) People are moving north and east
Many of our recent clients have decided to take early-retirement options from their employer, and we’re seeing most of these clients moving north of Everett or east of the mountains. People are moving north for more space, larger lots, more distance between their neighbors, room to build a shop, to plant a garden, for their kids to play. Most of the people moving east are either retiring or realize that they no longer want to sacrifice affordability for a paycheck, especially when those paychecks seem less than guaranteed.
What does this mean for you
It’s a fun time to be a real estate agent. Intentional people are great to work with. Seeing people grab a hold of the reins to their life and steer it in the direction of their desire is motivating. This current market isn’t about buying something you don’t want but that you can afford. This market – with rates below 3%, when you may not have to worry about a commute – this market is empowering. If you like where you live and don’t want to make a change, it’s a great time to refinance and eliminate hundreds of dollars a month from your monthly budget. If you do want to make a change, you may not be as constrained as you were before the pandemic, and you should start thinking and dreaming of what you want your daily life to look like and move steadily in that direction. We’re available if you need to talk through it with someone. It’s what we do lately 🙂