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The Times, They Did Change 

Impacts of COVID-19 on real estate

As Central Oregon begins to reemerge slowly and safely from quarantine, many are anxious to get back to normal and accomplish the real estate goals put on hold due to the pandemic. A large number of buyers and sellers are ready to make their move but everyone is still asking themselves, what is this market doing? 

Before the shutdown in March there was a higher-than-average number of buyers and inventory was low, which resulted in sale prices that continued to climb through the first few months of 2020. By the end of March, it was evident the pandemic was prompting some hesitancy from buyers and sellers.

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The Beacon Report for March showed numbers that reflect pre-pandemic times, so the amount of total home sales remained average at 189 sales and the median home price was $460,000. The April Beacon Report numbers, representative of the slightly reduced buyer pool resulting from the pandemic, reported Bend had a total of 166 homes sold. The lower number of sales didn't translate to a reduced median sale price; instead, we saw the median sale price increase to $468,000 in April. Redmond followed this trend with 68 homes sold in April—down from 95 in March, and the median sales price went up from $330,000 in March to $358,000 in April. In a nutshell, sales slowed slightly, but prices are unaffected and continuing to rise.

The buzz within the real estate community is that with all of the potential energy, as soon as the market conditions are right and travel restrictions are lessened, there will be an explosion of home sales and activity.

These unprecedented times have been disruptive and full of uncertainty, but there has also been a great deal of good that came out of this as well. An unforeseen benefit is that it's helped to reshape the overall real estate process into a new, more streamlined version of itself.

Realtors had to quickly re-focus and adjust efforts in order to get greater exposure to homes they're selling and the ability to show buyers their dream homes safely. Technology is a big player in the real estate industry, but now nearly the entire process for both buyers and sellers can be accomplished "virtually." Buyers can search and view homes online using home search websites and realtors can provide a live virtual tour or video walkthrough. All paperwork and signing of documents can be done in digital format, with zero transfer of physical papers between those involved.

Homes on the market can be highlighted via social media and realtors can host live virtual open house events. "Meetings" between realtors and their clients can all be done utilizing video conferencing apps, like Zoom or WebEx. Real estate goals are still being accomplished; it just looks slightly different during a pandemic.

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