Metro Detroit real estate industry sees slowdown during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 12:32 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 12:32:53-04

GROSS POINTE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Early spring is usually a peak time for the real estate industry, according to Executive Vice President for ReMax of Southeastern Michigan Jeanette Schneider.

However, given the impact of COVID-19 on metro Detroit, local listings are down.

Schneider said the beginning of March looked to be on track with previous years, but things slowed as the month went on and Michigan saw its first confirmed cases of coronavirus.

On March 23, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order mandating the temporary closure of in-person non-essential businesses, including real estate.

“We went from over 2,000 new listings coming on the market, to 700 something by the end of March, to only 400 something as we got into early April. So clearly, buyers and sellers are taking in everything that’s happening," Schneider said of the local market.

Given the current situation, in-person open houses aren't happening. However, licensed real estate agent with Century 21 Laurie Ware said business isn't halted altogether.

“There’s video tours available, virtual open houses, so my clients can actually virtual tour a home and they could purchase it with the clause giving them the ability to back out of the deal if they didn’t like what they see in person," Ware said. "Luckily, this didn’t happen 20 years ago, because things really would have gone down the hole."

Ware said price points aren't dropping overall, but many buyers and sellers are putting things on hold until after the pandemic.

Garret Bryden chose not to wait. He recently sold his Canton home, listed just before the executive order first took effect.

"I wasn’t in a rush or didn’t need to move. So if it didn’t sell, I wasn’t going to be freaking out," he said.

The actual buyer was able to do a physical walk through. Online, Bryden listed his home as "coming soon" on Zillow, with photos and videos included, in case he had to wait for a while.

“Because what we didn’t want to do is have it say be on the market for X amount of days before the restriction was lifted," he said.

Slower business means less competition for buyers, Ware told 7 Action News.

"It’s actually a good time to try and get your claws into something that you’ve had your eye on. But as a buyer myself, there’s a lot to a home. What does it sound like? What does it smell like?," Ware said, noting the challenges that come with buying in the midst of this health crisis.

As for the things that go along with purchasing a home, like appraisals and inspections, that's all still happening.

“Appraisers work for banks and mortgage companies which are considered essential industries," Schneider said.

“There are some gray areas. But as long as the inspector or the appraiser is in the home by themselves, the clients aren’t with them, they’re allowed to do that.”

Schneider said we could see a local real estate boom after the pandemic, but she also said that some things will be slow to return to normal, like open houses, due to social distancing concerns.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.