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Housing listings take a fall; agents adapt to social distancing policies

James Brown

The Empire State Development agency announced this week that real estate agents can show houses one-on-one in New York, but a pause on open houses continues because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

That forces real estate agents like Tiffany Hilbert to find workarounds

“We’ve had to be creative in our way of doing business, so now everything is virtual,” said Hilbert of Team Hilbert at Keller Williams Realty in Brighton.

She and other real estate agents are filing paperwork, getting loans, coaching clients -- all virtually. They’re even holding open houses via video conference platforms like Zoom or apps like Facetime. 

“We’re all living in the big land of Zoom right now," she said. "Conducting virtual tours is fantastic, it’s working really, really well.”

Hilbert said recent conferences have ranged from a couple of people to dozens at one time. She’s even had buyers waive inspections or final walkthroughs just to buy properties now.

Hilbert said well-maintained and staged homes are still flying off the market, but the number of newly listed homes is down sharply.

“Right before this happened, things were insane,” said Hilbert. “If you had a cream puff property and it was priced properly, you were seeing multiple offers and homes selling above asking (price). Sometimes you’ll see 80 or 90 (new listings) come on between a Monday and Tuesday, and I think yesterday we looked, and it was a crazy number like 15 or 20.” 

Andy Kachaylo, who has been in real estate for more than three decades, said houses continue to sell despite any economic downturn, but he does see a slowdown coming in the market. 

“The level of new listings coming into the market are about 50% of what they were this time last year,” said Kachaylo who operates a Re/Max agency in Lakeville. 

Kachaylo said the people who are buying now were likely looking before the outbreak and are willing to take a chance on a dream home in a dream place.

“If you’re a cautious person by disposition or someone who is very detail-oriented and likes to touch things, they’re going to have a different comfort level with the unknown,” said Kachaylo. “Versus somebody who says, 'I’ll take it. If it’s broken, I’ll fix it, but getting one of the four houses in Fairport village or this particular street, in Gates, or Greece, it doesn’t matter where, matters more.' ”

Kachaylo said a lot of agents are working with potential sellers who aren’t comfortable going on the market at this moment. He and other agents are telling potential buyers and sellers to use this time to get their finances or their house in order because he expects a “frenzied” real estate market once the social distancing policies are lifted.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.
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