As the virus emergency shutters the market, millennials feel pressure to buy, while upper end has time to plan

Top-selling agent Jim Romano of Re/Max Professionals, whose five-agent team did over $50 million in 2019 sales, is looking over a city ordered to stay at home through the virus emergency and is seeing two markets out there.

Real estate during the COVID-19 crisis

What: Broker Jim Romano, leading a Re/Max team, deals with continuing real estate issues during the stay-at-home order, and makes some observations on the market.
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“There are two totally different groups,” says Romano, who directs Re/Max Pros’ Elite Home Sales Team. “On the one hand, we’re talking to customers in the luxury range who are telling us, ‘I live in a nice place and I can wait another 60 days. I don’t need to mess with this right now.’ ”

Meanwhile, millennial-aged buyers are still motivated, wanting to get hold of a house while mortgage rates are very low.

“In the first two weeks of March, area agents were selling 1,500 homes a week, and that dropped to under 1,000 later in the month,” Romano says.

Of those, Romano notes, some 400 homes came back on the market with uncertainties over the COVID-19 crisis. But many of those, particularly the more affordably priced ones under $600,000, were quickly eaten up by continued demand.

Even upper-end sellers who are waiting things out indicate they’re still serious about selling, he adds. “Luxury-end clients are telling us, ‘Let’s get the house ready to go for when this is over.’ ”

Romano says his team is using entirely new procedures, in line with Gov. Polis’ March 25 stay-at-home order that allows some continued real estate activity under strict guidelines. Sellers take photographs of their homes, room by room, and provide those to agents. They, in turn, recommend to the seller, who have time on their hands these coming weeks, what needs to be cleaned or decluttered or painted, to give the best resale potential.

When buyers ask to see a listing, they’re getting more vetting than was true a month back.

“We’re now providing opportunities to visit our listings only to serious buyers,” Romano notes. When a showing is arranged, it’s with strict sanitation protections on — distances maintained between agent and buyers, with wipes and hand cleaner used before and after.