Redfin executives said Thursday afternoon that they are still seeing strong demand for real estate, even amid a crippling coronavirus outbreak, though that could change if the crisis lingers.
Scott Nagel, Redfin’s president of operations, made the comments during a live question and answer session with the company’s general counsel Anthony Kappus Thursday afternoon. Near the end of the session, the two men were asked if the ongoing coronavirus crisis — which has already devastated the stock market — would drive down home prices.
Nagel said that he didn’t think so, at least in the short term.
“We haven’t seen a lot of price drops,” he said. “There are still multiple offers.”
Nagel went on to say that open houses remain busy, and specifically mentioned one instance last weekend during which an agent in New Jersey only allowed one group at a time into a property. The goal was to minimize interpersonal contact.
Buyers responded by lining up outside to see the home.
The point was that Redfin is still seeing a “lot of demand” for homes, Nagel explained, and offers are still being written.
Kappus agreed with Nagel’s assessment.
However, things could change depending on how long the crisis lasts.
Nagel explained during the session that while demand appears to remain high at the moment, Redfin is currently seeing less web traffic and “people kind of earlier in the funnel.”
“If that continues then I think prices likely will get lower,” he said.
The comments, and the question that prompted them, speak to the still-open question over what the coronavirus situation will do to the real estate industry. In the U.S., the outbreak and resulting financial turmoil have worsened considerably in the last two weeks, though numerous agents and business leaders have told Inman in recent days that the endgame is still unknown.
In the meantime, many members of the real estate world are girding themselves for hard times. Redfin itself, along with rival Opendoor, has suspended its iBuying program; RE/MAX is letting brokers defer franchise fees; Gary Keller has said the U.S. is in a “market shift”; multiple listing services are rewriting their rules; and even safe houses are on the rise.
That doesn’t mean it’s all bad news. Nagel said during Thursday’s question and answer session he believes individual showings of homes can still be done in a safe manner, and noted that multiple listing services can be leaders during the crisis. And, he said, current events could ultimately drive positive changes such as more acceptance for electronic closings.