How the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the real estate market

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spring is normally the busiest time for the real estate market, but it looks very different amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak has presented challenges for showing homes to potential buyers and decreased the number of listings.

“Oh, it’s so different, it really is,” explained Michelle Maida, a Principal Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate.

Maida said people are still listing their homes for sale, but it is not quite as busy as it should be for this time of year. Among the homes that are on the market, Maida said she is also seeing price reductions happen a lot quicker.

“There’s a couple of things that have changed,” Maida said. “I think houses are selling faster. I think that sellers are more apt to accept an offer faster, instead of waiting for the multiple offers because they just don’t want so many people in their homes.”

To limit the number of people walking through a home, Maida said they are doing a lot more virtual tours online. She is also telling people to drive by a house first, before scheduling a tour.

“I can tell you from showing houses in the last week, that it’s much more comfortable to show a vacant home, than to go into a home where people are living and perhaps have children there,” Maida said. “You know, you really have to be cautious for them, and for your client, and for yourself.”

When she does show a home people live in, they are taking extra precautions.

“There was one house I thought probably had one of the best protocols, you got to the porch, shoes off on the porch, booties on, there were Lysol Wipes for me to wipe off the lock box before accessing it, and then we opened the door, oh and face masks on, and in the door there’s a sign that says go directly to the sink and wash your hands and put on gloves,” Maida explained.

She said the unspoken rule is to touch as little as possible. If potential buyers do touch something in the home though, she immediately cleans it just to be safe.

“There’s a bottle of ammonia water, a spray bottle for me, to follow my buyers around and if they touched something, I would spray it down and clean it as we went,” Maida said.

She also takes personal precautions now when she gets home.

“I’ll show houses and I come home, I actually drop my clothes at the door, they go down to the laundry, and I go straight to the shower,” Maida said. “I think that’s a really good protocol for everybody. I think you should do it when you go to the grocery store.”

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