As the economy entered uncertainty as it responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, many looked to the real estate market to watch how it would react. Leading opinions on the residential real estate industry were tapped by The Puget Sound Business Journal during a Market Watch town hall video conference, which was recorded Thursday, April 23, with more than 800 registered viewers participating remotely.
The first quarter of 2020 posted a rising median and a seller’s market across Western Washington, but now home prices but Q2-2020 expected to present a “buyer season,” even in Seattle, which is poised for a check-mark recovery. As expected, April real estate activity showed expected declines, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Moderated by PSBJ Publisher Emily Parkhurst, each member of the well-rounded panel offered insight on how the pandemic was affecting their area of the business. From appraisals and lending to residential sales and new development, each area of the market has been affected, has adapted as they analyze trends and forecasts in order to make strategic decisions on how to move forward.
“There’s been a lot of folks who say that because we were first into the pandemic, we will hopefully be first out,” said Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty Owner and CEO Dean Jones on during the MarketWatch panel. Jones was joined by local appraiser and economist Brian O’Connor of O’Connor Consulting Group; mortgage lenders Lysa Catlin and Jolene Messmer of Caliber Home Loans; developer Marc Rousso of JayMarc Homes; and representatives of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, including owners Dean and Stacy Jones, as well as Designated Broker, Stacia Smith; Vice President of New Developments Matt VanDamm; and Executive Director of Land Division, Tadashi Shiga.
“I know I share this with Tadashi with his business and a number of other folks that really found their calling during the Great Recession. We just had our 10th anniversary in February, with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty and we learned that we were able to build a better company, sometimes because of our competitive advantages and listening to our brokers and going to where the markets moving next as opposed to sort of following a leader. And so that’s really where we broke out and I feel just as comfortable now as we did back then. In fact, I got to tell you, I feel fundamentally better because we’re not in a housing crisis; we’re in a health crisis that has impacts to the housing market, and to the financial markets.
I’m focused on the trend lines, not the headlines.
-Dean Jones, PSBJ Market Watch, 4.23
“I am happy to say that we’re actually seeing year-over-year increases in sales right now for our company. According to S&P Case Shiller, we were heading into Q1 of 2020 with great speed. We started seeing more positive median home price growth in our metro area, beginning in the summer when that kind of pivot point happened, and obviously we’re expecting this to flatten out a little bit as we get into the second quarter because we do think the pressures on pricing are now in front of us. Immediately following Gov. Inslee’s stay home order on March 23, we were very closely tracking how many new listings were being added on a weekly basis in these markets, and most markets are down 30, 40, 50% in terms of new listings. So, our challenge right now is we have already relative anemia in the listing count year-over-year and now we’re not seeing as many new listings being added to this spring sale search. We do think that buyers are pooling, but it is important to note here that we’re still down in listings about 30% year-over-year. In King County, we’re down [inventory] 37% year-over-year, in the city of Seattle we’re down 42.5% and in just downtown Seattle we’re down 40%. So, it’s important to watch this because you can see clearly that the number of listings you’re competing without there are actually fewer.
On Friday, May 8, see the complete story and its takeaways from the thought leaders at RSIR and others in the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Hear more from Jones and fellow RSIR thought leaders in the video of the full MarketWatch, below: