As of this writing (Monday am, March 9, 2020), the novel coronavirus has not yet been confirmed to be present in the State of Idaho. At all. Will it come? Yes, most likely. Will we see it in the Idaho Falls area? Yes, most likely. What does that mean for local real estate? Only time will tell, but there are some things we can do to ensure less disruption in our local markets.

I’m planning to sell in 2020…will I be affected by the novel coronavirus?

In speaking with my peers across the country, I am hearing some concern amongst buyers and sellers beginning to grow. I would expect that the markets to be effected initially are those second home/luxury markets where buyers traditionally get on a plane and travel to that new market during the home search process. I would expect that market would be the first to slow, as buyers may be reluctant to visit those second home markets during this epidemic.

However, I am beginning to hear from agents in other markets that sellers are beginning to be reluctant about letting unknown people into their home, not knowing if they could be potentially exposed to the virus. At this point, particularly in the Seattle area. Some sellers may have underlying health issues and have greater concerns. Certainly this is sometimes a reason to sell a home to begin with – moving to a different climate for health reasons, or even moving into an assisted living facility.

In this case, utilizing an agent that offers a 3D Matterport tour that reflects not only the images of the interior of the home, but the floor plan and layout, is an essential first step. This provides an initial ‘virtual showing’ for buyers. Typically I see the total number of showings is lower when the 3D tour is offered, however those buyers that do tour in person are interested already and a physical tour is more like a second showing.

Additionally, I offer live video tours with buyers real-time. So they can ask questions one-on-one and have another digital opportunity to ‘walk’ through the home, without actually stepping into it. By leveraging these two options, it is possible to attain an offer with the buyer not actually having stepped into your home. 

What about a recession?

If you are watching the stock markets, either as a matter of course or in keeping an eye on your 401(k), you are likely concerned about market moves the last two weeks. And yesterday you we learned that the oil markets fell 30% as well. As I write this, CNBC is telling me that the DOW is having the worst day since December 2008. Is a recession coming, and what does that mean for real estate?

While I am not an investment adviser, and unfortunately I do not have a crystal ball (!), I think it is safe to say there is fear and uncertainly in the investment markets. Will that affect the real estate market in Idaho Falls?

Our local market is currently very strong. In fact, the entire state of Idaho is enjoying a very strong real estate market! Housing inventory is stretched tight and demand is high, which means prices are still rising. Interest rates are today more than 1% lower than where they were a year ago and at historic lows. All-time lows. This helps immensely with buyer affordability when it comes to qualifying for those larger payments.

What about the job market? Idaho Falls was recently named as the #1 CITY IN THE NATION for job growth rate, adding more data behind our housing crunch (link to article here). We’re hiring, and people need somewhere to live to do their jobs. How long will this last?

We have a lot of federal government money flowing into the area. The INL and NRF currently have multi-billion dollar construction projects out at the site which, when completed, are expected to bring many hundreds, even thousands, of new permanent jobs to the area. The numbers I hear floated around vary, I’ve heard up to 2,200 permanent jobs. Where will we put them all? Even if only half of those materialize, that’s a lot of additional households…which means continued demand!

Our market obviously was affected in the great recession. No one is immune from what happens across the nation, heck across the globe. However, we are not Las Vegas. Our market does not increase in value as quickly or as much as that, yet nor does it drop as quickly or as much as that. Or in the same time frame…locally, we didn’t slow until late 2008 during the great recession, while the markets that felt the initial effects started seeing value decreases in the housing market in 2006-2007.

I started selling real estate in Idaho Falls in 2007 and rode the slide. I made it through. More importantly, I guided my clients through it. I have experience since then in a variety of market subtleties and consumer concerns. I have experience in a global recession market, and I have a plan to help you buy and sell in a market where people are becoming scared to congregate. Let’s talk about your goals. Let’s talk about your time frame. Let’s talk about an action plan to get you there.

Because when you are hiring a real estate agent, experience matters.

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Chris Pelkola Lee, Broker/Owner | REALTOR®