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COVID-19: Is Utah still a hot real estate market?

Posted at 10:31 PM, Mar 25, 2020

The short answer is yes, although the future for Utah's real estate market is somewhat unpredictable.

"We're definitely noticing a little bit of a pullback in the market, we're seeing people being unsteady," said T.J. McClelland of Fitness Realty, who remarks those pulling back in the market right now are only a small fraction. "There was a spike of homes that went from 'under contract' back to 'active' in the last week or so."

It's too soon to tell how COVID-19 is directly impacting homes being sold and the progress on new build construction. According to Kem. C Gardner Policy Institute's Jim Wood, data should be available mid-April to indicate how the month of March fared with the coronavirus pandemic. As for the long-term future, it's still uncertain what happens next to the market.

"It's a volatile time right now," said Eric Brown, a real estate agent with Century 21 Everest. "But we're still seeing that people are still buying, people are still selling."

Brown noted that both buyers and sellers appear to be changing their motivation but it hasn't produced a noticeable change in the number of listings, how fast offers are put on the table or how agreements are being executed.

"As long as we continue seeing buyers come to Utah and we still see the amount of inventory we have on the market right now, I'd say that we're probably just going to keep getting the same results," Brown said.

Both McClelland and Michael McPhie of Right Move Utah have seen or heard of some buyers pulling out of a contract due to uncertainty of their own financial future.

"I personally have seen a handful of people both buyers and sellers put the purchase or sale on hold and back out of a contract because of COVID-19 and the uncertainty that it brings," said McPhie citing the handful of buyers as a minority in the market. "What I do know is the real estate market is moving forward strong, it's healthy and us in the industry are taking every safety precaution we can."

Real estate agents are taking precautions when showing homes by opening up all doors, turning on all lights and eliminating what prospective buyers touch when touring a property. Many are offering sanitizer and ways for those coming to open houses to stay comfortable regarding health.

However, like most industries right now, the real estate market is turning to technology to help show homes.

"We're having to really adapt, a lot of virtual tours going on right now," said Eric Brown, who also uses 360-degree video to help show homes.

"Virtual tours I think are on the rise and that's what we're leaning towards, they're going to be great to keep everybody safe," said T.J. McClelland. Since homes are still moving fast, McClelland recommends making an offer if you take a virtual tour, fall in love with the home, and then schedule an in-person viewing. That will eliminate the number of people seeing the home which helps with safety and can also help the seller.

The bottom line is that the real estate market is still hanging tough. It's a case-by-case basis when it comes to the pandemic and how it's treating both buyers and sellers. It's slightly noticeable but hasn't hampered anything dramatically; yet.

"The real estate market is kind of kin to a living, breathing thing, it's always adjusting, it's always shifting and it's always moving," said Michael McPhie.