So far, REALTORS® are still working under a “safer at home” order. While the initial proclamation declared “real estate” an essential service, it was later interpreted that this applied to (mainly) property managers (rental agents).
The directive for sales agents remains that we’re supposed to operate electronically by initially offering virtual tours and walk-throughs. Once completed, we can meet a buyer at a listing if normal protocols (mask, etc) are followed. As a group, one of the most interesting adjustments Realtors have made is participation in virtual caravans.
A “caravan” is traditionally where a group of agents get together and go from house-to-house pre-viewing active listings. Honestly, I often wonder what the neighbors must think (drug raid perhaps?). Caravans are a great way for an agent to “multiply themselves.” It provides the opportunity to get other agents excited about my listings. During this stay at home period, we have transitioned to substituting in person tours to virtual “walk-throughs.” There is no question that we live on a very big island. It’s not uncommon for physical caravans to last past noon. Many properties are excluded because roads are too rough, and properties are too isolated. It can take 45 minutes to go a mile sometimes. The condition of some Big Island roads is exactly the reason most agents drive big SUVs. Virtual caravans have become so popular that they may soon be the norm for some areas.
Local vs. National
On another topic, this past week is normally the time REALTORS® travel to Washington DC for mid-year meetings. These, of course, were done virtually this year. Participating in East Coast meetings means getting up very early. Anytime I attend national real estate conferences, the highlight for me is hearing from our National Association of REALTORS® economist. Lawrence Yun did not disappoint. His perspective is, of course, national. As an agent, my job is to attempt to layer a local perspective.
Like our local market, he acknowledged that prices are still on the rise. It makes perfect sense. Prior to COVID, inventory was already short and because listings are being held back or withdrawn, the shortage has become more acute. He noted that most buyers understand this and are not expecting a deep discount.
Like Hawaii, not surprisingly, national sales numbers have decreased. Mortgage applications were down initially 35%, but last week were only down 10%. He does not expect wide-spread foreclosures if 90% of the workforce returns to work quickly. Remember those virtual tours I mentioned, the same technology is allowing more and more agents to service off-island buyers using technology to sell homes. We are no longer surprised to receive sight unseen offers based on a virtual tour or video walk-thru.
Real Estate Wine’d Down
Our last Wine’d Down via Zoom featured Niki Hubbard from VIP Mortgage, Daniel Hartong from Sevco Appraisals and Emilia Carangelo from Fidelity Title and Escrow. It was the perfect blend of knowledge from three services that are so integral to our process. Ryan Kadota, of course, started us off with the weekly Team Nakanishi wine selection (yum!). For a video recording or synopsis, email Ash.
Be sure to join us for our next Real Estate Wine’d Down via Zoom when we’ll be joined by an equally impressive group of experts. Just contact me or Ash and we’ll get you an invite. It’s a fun and very informational way to end yet another Safer at home Monday!