Your Weekly COVID-19 Update
Real Estate Edition
I don’t know about you, but I’ve personally stopped counting how many days or weeks we’ve been reacting to COVID-19. The days just kind of blur together without a semblance of distinguishing their differences. Such is the new normal, I guess. 5 years ago, being a wedding DJ/MC was my new normal. Prior to going that, I was a part of the real estate industry as a realtor. I was ok at it but I never felt the enjoyment I do as a wedding DJ. Ami Walker, however, has flourished as a realtor.
I met her right before I decided to pivot to focusing specifically on DJing full time. She is currently a licensed real estate broker and property manager with NextHome Cornerstone Realty in Niceville, FL. Before she became a realtor she was a public school teacher.
Since I haven’t been active in real estate for a while, I was interested to get her take on the impact that COVID-19 has had on real estate locally.
Ami: It’s definitely been an adjustment in the real estate industry like it has been for everyone. Because the area is so close to the coast and we have four military bases nearby, I’m not worrying about seeing market conditions like there were in 2008. We’re looking at a completely different situation, so that’s great news.
However, because our military population makes up the majority of our client base, everything kind of came to a screeching halt when they froze military PCS orders. The majority of our business happens when the military is reassigning posts in the months of May, June, and July.
Real Estate Rentals
On the rental side of things, it’s forced everyone that was supposed to move out of the rental properties that I manage to request a month-to-month lease basis until their movement freeze is lifted. One of the good things has been that the personnel who were supposed to PCS into the area haven’t been able to arrive, either.
I felt myself getting frustrated by having to adjust to the delays. But, I had to keep everything in perspective. I’m sure it’s been even more stressful for the service members since they’ve had to deal with packing and unpacking. It’s worse for them.
Real Estate Sales
Josh: Has the effect been the same for real estate sales?
Ami: A lot of people that would be listing their homes for sale haven’t listed them because they haven’t received orders, their orders have been frozen, or they were worried about what might happen with the real estate market and wanted to watch how things progressed a bit. There’s also been the hesitation of not wanting to have people in and out of their property during the pandemic. Inventory is very, very low.
Before the pandemic, mortgage rates were low enough to increase the number of those who qualified to purchase a home. As the coronavirus unfolded, a lot of lenders didn’t want to lend out cash and adopted a wait-and-see approach. Lender requirements have become more strict. Some of the buyers that had qualified before the pandemic, no longer qualify. A lot of buyers that were on the cusp are now on standby.
It’s put a damper on real estate sales. Even new home construction is slower than normal. That’s not to say that sales are not happening. I have had at least one closing each month; I have one in a couple of weeks, and another scheduled for June. People are still buying and selling real estate. It’s just not happening as much. Normally, this would be the busiest season of the year.
For now, things are going to be much slower than normal. But I think it’s temporary, so I’m not worried. I’m actually not worried about the real estate market here, at all. And, that’s good news for everyone. For me, this feels like the calm before the storm. Our military population is the vast majority of my real estate clientele. Once the military can start PCS-ing, sales and rentals are going to be very hectic.
The Life Of a Working Single Mom
Josh: Thanks for sharing your real estate expertise and how you’ve seen COVID-19 affect all things real estate. How have you been holding up personally?
Ami: Personally, it’s a challenge, because, as a property manager, work doesn’t stop. Yesterday, I had to deal with a refrigerator leak and an air conditioner breaking. A laundry room at one of the properties completely back flowed into both the laundry room and the kitchen sink, for some reason. That’s normally how it is: one maintenance disaster after another.
I’m still pulling 14+ hours a day most of the time. Since anyone who enters a property has to sign a COVID-19 waiver, there’s a lot more work involved for things that used to be quicker and smoother. On top of that, I’m a single parent with a son in middle school. Like many little boys, he doesn’t LOVE school. That means upwards of an extra five hours a day that I have to figure out how to help keep him focused and support him academically. That makes for long days.
But still, I am really lucky because he’s a great kid who gets really good grades. At one point, I thought, “I skipped a grade, I was in the gifted program, and I have a Master’s Degree. But I NEED help with this curriculum!” Fortunately, the teachers have been really understanding. Both the teachers and vice-principal, Mark Smith, of Ruckel Middle School have been gracious. The teachers have even provided some supplemental materials and have been really understanding. I appreciate that they haven’t just turned their phones off and said, “Figure it out.”
A Truly Universal Experience
Josh: One of the positives about this situation is it’s one of the few times I can think of where everybody is being changed by it. It’s a truly universal experience.
Ami: I agree. I initially enjoyed the quarantine in March. The kids were on Spring Break, so we were riding our bikes 15 miles a day and getting to spend all of this extra time together. But, then he had to start up his classwork again, and, of course, my real estate work doesn’t stop. I’m looking forward to when the rest of life gets back to normal. But, whatever happens, all we can do is our best to make whatever “normal” is as normal as it can be.
And that’s really all we can do: take whatever is presented to us and make the best of it. I hope that the recent relaxing of restrictions that have been enacted by Governor DeSantis is justified and that the stay-at-home orders enacted by state governors have been sufficient to flatten the curve and bring us one step closer to how life was before the coronavirus pandemic. If it doesn’t end up being the case, then we’ll have to adjust further.
If you have any further real estate questions or are looking to buy or sell real estate, reach out to Ami at firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call at (850) 419-6168.
The previous COVID-19 Update talked about Wedding Planning during Coronavirus.
One last thing! If you’re interested in being featured in future COVID-19 updates, you can contact me at email@example.com. I really enjoy hearing others’ stories and being able to share them. 🙂