Housing Market Goes Digital as Realtors, Developers, and Sellers Offer More Virtual Tours Due to Coronavirus

As coronavirus keeps people away from each other, real estate agents, developers, and sellers are postponing open houses and instead conducting appointment-only showings and virtual tours

home for sale
Real estate agents are opting for private and virtual tours during the coronavirus outbreak. // Stock photo

As coronavirus keeps people away from each other, shopping for homes is turning a new leaf. Real estate agents, developers, and sellers are postponing open houses and instead conducting appointment-only showings and virtual tours.

“We quickly found the market changing with the coronavirus emergency and the new reality of social distancing,” says Jeanette Schneider, executive vice president of RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan. “Homes are still being bought and sold, but the way we do it will likely become more digital. In this ever-changing environment, we encourage buyers and sellers to talk to their local professional agent for the most current information in their market.”

From the most recent housing activity, Schneider adds: “Favorable interest rates for buyers was the story in February that led to a less than two-month supply of homes and pushed home values higher as we waited for more homes to come on the market in spring.”

Home sales fell 9.7 percent year-over-year with 2,536 sold compared to 2019’s 2,809. In January, 2,530 sold. The drop is due to a low housing supply – a 1.9 months supply was available in February 2020, compared to 2.4 months in February 2019 and 2.2 months in January 2020. Nationally, home sales increased 7.5 percent, and there was a 2.8 months supply of homes available.

The median sales price increased 5.8 percent to $210,194 from $198,613 in February 2019. This is down from January’s median sale price of $215,000. The median sales price nationally is $260,000, a 7.9 percent increase year-over-year.

Homes spent 52 days on the market, an increase of three from February 2019’s 49 days and an increase of one from January 2020’s 51 days. Across the U.S., homes spent 60 days on the market, down two days from last year.

Oakland County saw the biggest year-over-year decrease in home sales – 11.3 percent to 831 homes sold from 937. Livingston County was a close second with 136 homes sold compared to the previous year’s 153, a decrease of 11.1 percent. Wayne County saw a decrease of 10.8 percent to 991 from 1,111, while Detroit had a decrease of 8.3 percent from 265 to 243. Macomb County had the smallest decrease of 4.9 percent from 608 in 2019 to 578 this year.

The median sale price increased the most in Detroit – 15.2 percent from $35,251 to $40,610. Increases in other parts of the region were more modest – 6.5 percent to $271,525 in Livingston County, 6.1 percent to $260,000 in Oakland County, 5.8 percent to $179,250 in Macomb County, and 4 percent to $130,000 in Wayne County.

Homes spent 52 days on the market in Macomb County, a 20.9 percent increase from February 2019’s 43 days. In Livingston County, they spent 60 days on the market, a 5.3 percent increase from 57. In Detroit, homes spent 55 days on the market, the same as last year. Wayne County also saw no change from 47 days. In Oakland County, homes spent 50 days on the market, a 4.2 percent increase from 48.