As a group of Southern states prepare to reopen their economies following pandemic-prompted lockdowns, agents across the region are preparing for something big: A rush of activity as consumers race back to the market.
“I’m feeling very optimistic,” Tiffany McQuaid, owner of McQuaid and Company Real Estate in Naples, Florida, told Inman.
“I think people are going to be ready to resume their searches,” Tara Cochran, of Fathom Realty near Atlanta, Georgia, said.
“I think it’s going to come back in a booming way,” Lisa Land, of Nashville’s The Luxe Collective, agreed.
The reopening of the economy is still in its earliest stages following more than a month of lockdowns across much of the U.S. Orders mandating social distancing and the closure of businesses were designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but also led to widespread economic tumult.
Lifting those mandates remains controversial. But in the handful of Southern states that are proceeding — Florida, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina — real estate agents believe that a flood of homebuying and selling activity may follow.
In Florida, Jade Kalbacher — a Miami-based Compass agent — believes that the lockdown orders may actually drive more people into her market. The idea, she explained, is that the lockdown orders will prompt consumers to think long and hard about the places where they’re willing to endure future isolation. And in the end they’ll probably opt for a beautiful place.
“I think people are really going to consider if this is the place they want to live,” she told Inman. “I’m a firm believer that it’ll drive a lot of people to move here. I think compared to somewhere like New York we’re going to be far better off when everything has resolved.”
Other markets may not have the advantage of ocean views, but agents across the South were similarly optimistic. Land, for example, said that Nashville consumers appear to be ready for the isolation mandates to end.
“I think everybody is going to be jumping back in soon,” she told Inman.
Cochran, in Georgia, believes that the pandemic will permanently reshape the industry, with things like video and virtual tours “here to stay” for the long run. But she too was ultimately upbeat about the future.
“I’m very optimistic about the real estate market here,” she added.
Philip Becker also believes that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on how real estate is practiced. He noted, for example, that many firms have been forced to learn how to work remotely and that in turn could drive growth in virtual or partially virtual offices.
Either way, though, like others who spoke to Inman for this story, he anticipates a strong recovery when everything is said and done.
“What you’re getting is some pent up demand,” he explained.
The comments from agents in various Southern states echo those made last week by a pair of high-profile industry leaders who predicted a “surge” when the pandemic ends. The idea is that sellers have been waiting to list their homes, meaning there will be a flood of supply. At the same time, interest rates remain near historic lows, which means demand should remain strong. And that amounts to a recipe for a strong real estate season.
Of course, the pandemic is completely uncharted territory and no one knows exactly what is coming — or when. But McQuaid, of Florida, captured the sentiment of virtually all the agents who spoke to Inman when she said she suspects “there’s going to be a huge surge of people who have been wanting to buy.”
“I feel like I’m watching seeds kind of germinating through the soil right now,” she concluded. “That’s what it feels like. Little signs of life.”