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Expert Connexions: Coronavirus & the Real Estate Market

A lot of changes due to the Coronavirus have rolled out that impact the housing industry. What does Coronavirus mean for the spring housing market? Home inspections? Appraisals? Showings? Closings?

In this virtual chat, we talk with Amy Jackson,

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Julie: Welcome to our Facebook live series, Expert Connexions. We are in our third week now of offering these live Q&A sessions because there are so many changes and challenges because of the coronavirus that we really need the community now more than ever. I’m Julie Holton, I’m the Founder and Principal Strategist of mConnexions Marketing Agency. I am grateful to have you here and so honored to be able to share these stories with you. If you missed it this morning, we had a roundtable of experts from our own team at mConnexions to talk about marketing. Just an hour ago we talked with Vicki Hamilton Allen. She’s the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Capital Region. She gave some beautiful advice about servant leadership and leading through these uncertain times. Leading with strength and with heart and now I’d like to welcome Amy Jackson of Coldwell Banker. Amy, thank you so much for taking time to join me today.

Amy: Thank You, Julie, I have been watching the series since you started it a few weeks ago and I just want to tell you to thank you for doing this. It’s really been helpful for our community and for you know entrepreneurs it’s a lot of value, so I’m honored to be here.

Julie: Oh thank you Amy so much. So Amy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker. She has a website she is my go-to expert when it comes to the housing industry and Amy I know there have been a lot of changes for a lot of industries of course and with these changes we see challenges and opportunities and so I’d really like to talk first about some of the specific changes for the housing market and for realtors. The governor’s stay safe stay home order has meant a lot of changes for you personally and for all of your colleagues so tell me what does this mean for the real estate market?

Amy: Well yeah you know for most of us home is really important right which is why we get into this industry and we want to keep our clients homes safe, keep ourselves and our families safe, so when the governor did issue that we are now not labeled as critical workers so we’re just not able to go and show homes, but I’ll tell you Julie just like you’re doing this virtual chat, there’s so many creative ways that us realtors are able to connect with our clients to show them properties, to you know get them safely through a contract and have different creative ways to word it. So if a client does love a house now, we can maybe make that offer contingent on them seeing it you know in a few weeks when hopefully this is lifted. So there are creative ways of working through it. I always say with realtors we’re really people and problem solvers and so that’s our opportunity to shine and to show that we can overcome some of these obstacles but there’s lots of good news too like you and I were talking about the good news is you know now inspectors are labeled as critical workers. So those that are currently in the middle of a transaction are now able to get that home inspected so that way they can continue on this process and not have to wait weeks for that to start going. So that was really good news that happened.

Julie: And that was a big move that just came yesterday here in Michigan. We should specify that we’re talking you know because some of these you know these orders state to state depend on what various governors and government agencies are doing. So yesterday the governor, Amy you were telling me, had you know signed the next executive order that allows or deems I guess inspectors to be called essential workers. So they’re not able to go in and I imagine that without an inspection that would have really slowed the process down and we all know what that’s like when you’re in the home buying process and you’re waiting for that inspection that’s a really critical stage.

Amy: It really is and I always say that’s really when our first sign of relief is, is once that inspection is done because everything on that offer is now contingent on the inspection going through. So being able to have our clients have that peace of mind to know the condition of the property. Any changes that may be necessary or additional negotiations can just be all out of the way. That way everybody can just be moving through with the paperwork side and you know the sight of just you know packing up boxes and starting to do that process independently. So that was really good news. I have to say our local Association of Realtors has an amazing job keeping us all informed and you know making sure it’s very clear because just like with any other industry there’s good news and bad news and there’s not a lot of clarity. So I’m really grateful that we’ve had a really good clarity on what that means for us to keep everybody safe.

Julie: Okay so I see a comment already Amy and I’m going to jump right in on this because Melissa Goodson has said that she’s, so first Stephanie said hi ladies I’m so interested in hearing about the real estate market right now. Melissa has jumped on that and said it to me too. My house was supposed to go on the market April first and I imagine Melissa you are not alone. We saw a really booming housing scene last year with Amy with a lot of movement on the housing market and I know a lot of people that I know personally we’re really looking forward to the spring market so Melissa’s not alone. How are things looking for this spring market?

Amy: Well you know I think there’s going to be changes but I think we’re also seeing that we all want home right. We’re at our homes, we’re seeing what we like, what we don’t like, that we still want a plan to move that’s not going to change. Our community is heart for home, it’s just not going to change. Anything I think resonates so much more in people and of course we still want you to know financial security. You know real estate has long been said to be one of the strongest investments that we can make and so there’s definitely going to be great opportunities for buyers and sellers, it’s just a unique way of going about it. So if we have to pause a couple weeks that’s really to the benefit of everyone or there’s still ways that we can get houses on the market now and the realtor can walk them through the creative ways that we are doing that they still keep it moving and people are still buying right now. People are still selling right now. It is still very much happening so I think it’s staying encouraged that it can still happen it’s just your own comfort level if you want to proceed forward and you know walking through how we can creatively do that or if you want to pause for a little while what we can do in you know in the meantime to get it ready for you.

Julie: Absolutely and Amy I know you were I keep a close eye on your real estate page because I’m one of those people that I love to tour houses even when I’m not in the buying or selling mode and I know you’ve had several closings even in the last few weeks which I’ve been really impressed to see and also I’m sure you know I have a friend who just closed on a house last week and I know she was so grateful that the process was able to move forward because you know let’s face it a home is where the heart is and there’s so much that we have tied into emotionally in and you know physically with the security and comfort of home and the stability of the roof over our head that I know for her it was a really important thing to be able to move forward in that process. So are you seeing, so I want to talk again a little bit deeper about some of these changes. So you mentioned already the home inspectors so that was a really big deal to be able to help keep this process flowing. What about appraisals? What are appraisals able to be done right now? What does that situation look like?

Amy: Yeah absolutely so appraisals are still going through, there’s again just creative ways or having to work around it. Whether that be one a desktop appraisal, that some lenders are doing. Which means the appraiser can look at those photos, the area comps, and do all of the work that they already generally do just kind of safely in their office and then there’s drive-bys. Allowing them to drive by it. You know this is going to be determined on the buyer’s lender and your mortgage insurance approving it but you know when the news first came out last week I will tell you Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac you know immediately put out notices to be able to creatively work through it to make sure it’s still a secure investment for everybody. So the appraisers are still out working which is great. Now the inspectors are back working and us title companies I’ve been saying even an email this morning they are MVPs right now. The title companies are critical workers. They’re doing an amazing job. They do every day it’s get people safely to the closing table to make sure it’s really smooth and they’ve just done a really good job of allowing people to drive up if they don’t want to get out of their cars, maybe the kids are there and they don’t want to come in, we don’t want any extra additional people in the closing table so they can drive up. They’ve been coming to their window with a sanitized clipboard and a pen all the documents with a notary right there. We do have mobile notaries who are still going to people’s homes or meeting them somewhere if they felt more comfortable just a one-on-one interaction. I think they’re sanitizing; there you know everyone gets a free pen with the purchase of a house. Anything we can do, but really just thinking of ways to keep everybody safe and that same heart for home really carries with almost everybody in our industry of really trying to make sure that it’s smooth for everybody. So it’s been a great sense of teamwork. I think with a rather independent industry it’s been a beautiful sense of teamwork that we’re seeing.

Julie: Amy what are some things that people can be doing right now that if they’re you know we kind of have this pause period you know maybe people are kind of for those who maybe are hesitant to keep moving forward and are in this pause you know want to take a pause, I imagine like I know I’m you can’t see what I’m seeing and that’s probably a good thing but I’m looking at my house and I’m thinking okay there are some projects I could do, there’s some painting that could be done. What are some things that you recommend for people who might have some time now and are spending an awful lot of time at home? What are some things that we can be doing that would maybe prep the houses for the market?

Amy: Well first I’ve been to your home and it’s beautiful so I don’t know what projects you have to do, but I understand. I know, we’re all nesting. Which is great. You and I were talking before this started, I always like to talk to you know my friends or my clients before they even start the project list because there’s some things as homeowners that just have been on our laundry list for a long time and we’ve never got to it so it’s more kind of an irk for us to want to tackle that to do project and it may not be really a value for the buying or selling process. So I always like to talk that through to say is this worth your time? What’s maybe what’s something else that we could do or how we go about doing it that would make sure it’s going to be your best source of time and an investment if they’re making purchasing anything. So I always like to do that first.

Julie: Yeah let me ask that then because if you’re in a situation we recognize first of all that there are a lot of people that are not in a situation to be spending money right now totally understand that there’s a lot of uncertainty and we certainly do not want to make light of that whatsoever. However, some experts that we’ve had on have said if you are in a position where you’re able to keep you know keep spending with the economy of course making very thoughtful and purposeful decisions, but if you know selling your home is something that you want to do then what are some of the best ways then to be spending? Whether you’re spending cash or just putting in some equity where do we want to focus Amy?

Amy: Well always buy local. So if any of your local hardware shops or any of your local stores are open or they allow pickup, please support them. A lot of them will have flowers. Flower shops are doing unique things. Being able to reach out to them local and use things at home. You know we started projects in our house and I use the leftover paint from the painters and started you know painting the trim in our guest room and you know you can do really things you probably already have at home; it’s just thinking a little bit more creatively. So fleshing up paint is always a big thing. Decluttering I mean I think every drawer in my house is in progress of being cleaned out. Those are great things because that is what a house has been organized and well cared for it really resonates with buyers that it’s in a really good condition and it’s been cared for. So it helps eliminate any concerns that they might have. So it is doing some of those free things that we can do to start tackling. Cleaning up the yard. You know some of the things we might rush and do on one weekend now maybe we can take a few days to really deep clean and just kind of organize and just balance everything out a little bit.

Julie: What great advice. I love that, especially the decluttering. I think that needs to be a whole quarantine long project for me over here. You know all those closets, all the spring cleaning we normally do, overdrive right.

Amy: Oh my gosh and just like all the things I realized I’ve like tuckered into the basement, into little corners and my husband’s like slowly pulling out, and I’m like wait okay we got to figure out what to do with some of these things. It is a good time to do that. It’s a great time you know to figure out what you want to give away and you know the whole goal is to be moving anyways. So if you’re already in the process of thinking that you’re going to move, it’s thinking about your next home. What is it that you want to take with you? What is it that you don’t and do some projects that make you happy. You know I had a client who didn’t plan on live or moving for a couple years and she was asking me whether she thinks I should do certain things and some things I did painting is always great to keep a fresh neutral and touch up any paint especially trim work and around windows but you know different things that she wanted to do and like look if you’re going to be here for a couple years and it makes you happy, go for it. you know just go for it. There’s never a wrong investment to invest in yourself and make you happy.

Julie: I love that. Great advice. Okay so back we have a fan here, Beth says I’m lucky enough to have had Amy sell my home, it was a fabulous experience. I love that Beth. Okay so Amy you and I were also talking, I could talk decoration all day with you because I mean clearly look behind you like beautiful decorating and Amy does have a Facebook group we’re going to share that with you. For those who are looking for tips and advice and maybe some design advice I was talking to Amy I’m going to post some pictures later and maybe have people weighing in and help me figure out what to do with one of the walls in my house. Obviously not critical, not critical conversation topics for this Facebook Live, so Amy I want to bring it back to the housing market because I know last year we had in the Greater Lansing area we had a really big boom. We had and you know better than I do you know just what a boom we had last year as far as you know the buying and selling. I do know that we were really looking forward to a big spring boom this year. What does it look like now with this pandemic and with all of these changes? I’m sure there’s going to be some sort of slowdown in there somewhere, but what are you anticipating as far as our people are still looking to buy and sell?

Amy: They know home is still very important. I think that’s kind of been a song of our conversation today, is that home is still so important to each and every one of us. So still moving and in moving your family to a community that you want, that neighborhood you want, you’re also seeing what you value. You know we look close to a park, gosh I’ve never known how much I was going to love that until now, even though we’re not playing on the equipment we’re walking and we’re doing things being close to stores. Maybe you want to be close to the highway because of your commute. You’re really seeing now what you want in a home. Maybe you want a bigger pantry. You know there’s so many things that we are seeing now that we’re wanting from our home and so that’s just not going to change. Now you know how interest rates go and how some of those financial things go you know there’s definitely going to be changes as there always going to be, but interest rates are still exceptionally well and you know people are still wanting to move and so we’re still people who are wanting to move and our market is still strong. So for those that were considering selling, you still have you know how we do our pricing. Our market analysis is in the past several months of sales that have happened in a similar style and location to the homeowner’s house. So you still have all these wonderful price comps to use to be able to see your home value and you know there’s going to be different changes in that I’m sure as we evolve, but people still want home and I just don’t see that changing. A lender had shared something really nice with me last week that even when there’s global crisis doesn’t mean that there’s a housing market crisis and sometimes we kind of lump every crisis and together. There’s definitely changes or definitely things we have to do to work around it, but it doesn’t mean this is both in the same word.

Julie: Absolutely. What a great point to really you know keep that in mind. I know everyone is feeling it right now. Amy you and I have had private conversations, you know personally, professionally, and it just all melds into one because at the end of the day we’re all humans whatever and our personal lives or our professional lives and so I really appreciate you taking the time to really talk through this and help us to see what this market is looking like. How can people reach you if they have questions or want to connect with you to maybe get some more information about some things that we’ve talked about or maybe some things that we haven’t talked about, what’s the best way to reach you?

Amy: Well you can reach me on my website by, Facebook of course, Amy Jackson I’m sure on Instagram and all those too for all the hip cool cats or you can just always give me a call too.

Julie: Awesome Amy. Thank you so much. Thank you again for taking the time today and talking through some of these issues for us.

Amy: Yeah well thanks for having me Julie, I can’t wait to tackle how we’re going to decorate the living room.

Julie: I know oh and your Facebook group. We’ll put that up in the comments too and you can join this group. You can weigh in on what the heck I should do with the wall in my living room that I’m tired of staring at.

Amy: It’s so fun. You know we’re all doing projects. We all love home. Most of us are all kind of nesting right now so we might as well get together and give each other a high well virtual high five and keep going but it’s definitely to stay encouraged this the housing market home will continue to be important so well we could keep people encouraged today. Julie thanks for having me on.

Julie: Yes, thanks Amy and thank you everyone for joining us. So our series will continue on Thursday. We’re taking a break tomorrow; we’ll be back on Thursday. We have three live interviews for you on Thursday back to back again just like today. So look on our events page. If you go right now, click on the events tab you can see those three live interviews that are scheduled. RSVP for them and then we’ll see you back here starting at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday. Thank you everyone.



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