Coronavirus Concerns Visit the Real Estate Industry

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

A while back, I wrote a column about doorknobs that I thought was comical. It included one of my wife’s famous Lithuanian sayings, “I visited my friends only to kiss the doorknob,” which translates simply that they were not home. Lithuanians have quaint expressions for nearly everything they do.

But can you imagine anybody kissing a doorknob today, considering that the typical doorknob probably harbors more germs than any other fixture in our homes?

As a realtor, I and my colleagues have been advised this week by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been changing the way we should operate in and around homes we are listing for sale or viewing with buyer clients.

According to a new survey just conducted by the association, nearly one in four home sellers nationwide are changing how their home is viewed while that home remains on the market, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The changes include eliminating open houses from their marketing plans, requiring potential buyers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, asking buyers to remove shoes or wear footies and other changes.

The percentage of sellers adopting these and other changes climbs to 44 percent in Washington state and 34 percent in California, two of the states hardest hit by coronavirus.

The NAR’s Economic Pulse Flash Survey, conducted on Mar. 9 and 10, asked questions about how the coronavirus outbreak, including the significant declines in stock market values and mortgage interest rates, has impacted home buyer and seller interest and behavior. Several highlights of the member survey include:

–Thirty-seven percent said lower mortgage rates excited home buyers much more than the stock market correction.

–Almost eight out of 10 (78 percent) said there has been no change in buyer interest due to the coronavirus.

–Sixteen percent said buyer interest has decreased due to coronavirus, with members in California and Washington state citing larger decreases in buyer interest – 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

–Nearly nine out of 10 members (87 percent) said coronavirus has not affected the number of homes on the market.

In Washington state and California, 5 percent and 4 percent of members, respectively, reported homes were removed from the market. That figure is 3 percent for members nationwide.

To me and my real estate colleagues, all relevant news is local, and in checking with my office at William Raveis in Yorktown, I learned that two weeks ago, the number of showings scheduled on Saturday were 34. As I write this on Saturday this week, I’ve called my office to learn that that number of scheduled showings had dropped dramatically to nine showings and, before the end of the afternoon, four of those had been canceled.

So, hold on to your hats, home sellers and fellow realtors, and let’s all hope that the number of coronavirus cases starts declining soon. If not, all we can do is be patient and, most of all, be safe.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. ( His real estate site is To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.       

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