Franklin real estate robust as COVID-19 shutdowns begin
COVID-19 shutdowns and social distancing began in earnest in Massachusetts over the past several days. Many colleges and universities emptied dorms and began converting to online classes. On Sunday, Governor Baker announced that all public and private schools in the state would be closed until April 6 to help retard the spread of the novel coronavirus. Restaurants in the Bay State were limited to take-out and delivery service, effective Tuesday. Groups in excess of twenty-five people were mostly banned.
Normal weekend for Franklin real estate
Despite the unfolding COVID-19 shutdowns, it was “business as usual” in the local real estate market over the weekend. Open houses in Franklin, MA and surrounding towns drew heavy turnout both Saturday and Sunday.
Hand sanitizer was provided at every open house I visited. Attendees seemed aware of social distancing and avoided clustering in the homes.
Agents reported receiving offers on their listings, as buyers remained anxious to secure housing.
As of early Monday, two brand-new listings in Franklin that held open houses over the weekend were reported as “under agreement” on MLS-PIN. So it seems fair to say that the local real estate market has not yet been adversely affected by COVID-19.
The Great Shutdown?
On Monday, Stuart Varney the host of “Varey & Company” on the Fox Business Network coined the phrase “The Great Shutdown” to describe the extreme social distancing that may potentially be overtaking the US. There is a chance that we may soon be seeing normal life in the US going on hiatus until we have the virus under control.
Since the spring home-selling season is fast approaching, the question on the minds of most practitioners in the real estate industry today is what will be the effect of COVID-19 restrictions on real estate sales this spring?
Restrictions on what we can do and where we can go will be a negative for the real estate market. However, the effect on home sales may end up being less than our current anxieties may be leading us to fear.
With the past weekend as a guide, demand for homes remains extremely robust despite the panic that is in the air today. Buyers have a huge incentive to take advantage of the current historically low mortgage rates. So prospective home sellers who have their properties ready for sale should proceed to activate marketing. Buyers should by all means make that offer if they have found a home they like!
If you take the long-term view, it is clear that this crisis will pass. The current dislocation is not being caused by economic weakness. We likely face a short-term contraction, but the challenge we are facing is biological, not economic. Once the COVID-19 contagion ebbs, and ebb it will, you may be surprised by how quickly we regain our normal lives. The future is not set and there are no guarantees, but you will fare best by betting that the US economy will come out of this crisis intact and growing again!