With the pandemic winding down in most parts of the country, one broker-owner is looking back at some assumptions made about real estate last year. Which predictions were untrue, and which were right on the money?

It is easy to look back to last year and see some of the things that we may have been wrong about when predicting how our lives will be in 2021 and beyond. Now that the pandemic is kind of winding down, it’s a good time to revisit some of the assumptions made about real estate.

I know that real estate is subject to local trends, and that homebuying and selling activity differs by region, but this is what it is like where I live. Real estate news tends to come from the coasts where conditions may be different than they are where you live.

We were told that homebuyers would buy houses without seeing them. Some homebuyers did buy houses without touring them first, mostly because houses don’t stay on the market long enough for buyers to tour them.

It didn’t take us long to start advising our seller clients that buyers who see the house in person are more likely to go through with the purchase. Offers that fall through are still too common, and there are more than enough buyers who want to tour houses that are on the market.

The buyers who don’t see the house in person and have the winning offer, which is well over the listed price, are more likely to back out before the sale closes. There are agent notes in our multiple listing service (MLS) stating that sellers will not entertain offers from buyers who haven’t toured the property.

Most homebuyers tour houses before they make an offer. In fact, even during the height of the outbreak of COVID-19, buyers were insisting on in-person tours. There really wasn’t a way for buyer’s agents to ride out the pandemic without leaving the house.

We were told that because of the pandemic, people were working from home, and many would continue to do forever. It probably isn’t going to be over for a few years, if ever, but rush-hour traffic in my area is worse than it was before the pandemic.

The small parking lot for condo dwellers that’s next to my house is pretty empty during the day, and the street isn’t full of parked cars all day either. There are a lot of bosses and companies out there that like to keep their employees close. I know people who don’t want to go back to work, and others who can’t wait.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the people who moved into larger houses further away from work are the people who are clogging up the freeways during rush hour.

We were told that pandemic caused people to want to move to the suburbs and “flee” the city. If that is true, why are houses in the city selling so quickly? We put them on the market on a Thursday, and the sellers have several offers to choose from and select one on Sunday evening or Monday morning.

There are a lot of people moving to the ‘burbs. Perhaps the prediction that baby boomers would get stuck with large suburban houses that would be hard to sell was wrong. Maybe it is the millennial generation that will end up owning the real estate that will be hard to sell to Gen Z. What kind of housing will Gen Alpha want, and will they prefer the city or the suburbs?

What about the great housing sell-off that was supposed to happen around 2020? Is that even going to happen before 2030? What is the future of senior housing post-pandemic? Will we see more aging in place because of the pandemic? I think we will, and that will impact the housing market.

The pandemic has changed us, and it will leave a mark on all of us. I like to think of it as a stain. It may be a while before long-term housing trends emerge. The current housing market isn’t sustainable. Look for a shift in 2022 or 2023.

After mostly staying home for the last year, I tend to put more thought into everything that I do. I have learned how to intentionally not work, which is new to me. Now, I strive to work smarter, not harder, and to be more strategic with my time and resources.

My social skills have atrophied, and my inner introvert has taken over. I had family over last week and after they left, I was exhausted. I enjoy being alone or being with one person at a time. I like it when I walk down the street and people give me a lot of space or even cross the street. I’m going to miss that when this is all over.

I’m letting my clients know that I’m fully vaccinated, and I have set up some coffee dates with a few of them who want to talk real estate. There is a lovely coffee shop down the street that has an outdoor patio. (I am not ready for indoor coffee or dining.)

There will be a new normal, but I don’t think we are there yet, and it might not follow the predictions.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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