COVID-19 and West Michigan's housing market, so far

real estate coronavirus impact
Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 18:35:59-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — COVID-19's impacted virtually every industry and aspect of life in the past week. So could it impact what’s been a booming real estate market in West Michigan?

"The whole West Michigan area has just been on fire," says Michael Childress, president of the Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors (GRAR).

He says, so far, nothing's changed for West Michigan's seller's market despite COVID-19's impact.

"We have less than a month of inventory," Childress said.

"This past week we've been monitoring it virtually daily to say," said.

Childress said GRAR is examining whether they're "getting less listings or less things happening in our general market and is anything lightening up?"

"It hasn't been. It's just been still on fire," Childress explained.

It appears, so far, West Michigan is bucking a trend found by the National Association of Realtors. The NAR says it conducted a survey that found nearly half of Realtors reported a drop in interested home buyers because of the coronavirus outbreak.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun told FOX 17, "First, there is the financial market turmoil in the stock market. So naturally that brings caution."

He explained Americans are heeding the government's request to practice social distancing and stay home if possible.

"So people are taking that caution," Yun said.

Childress acknowledges Realtors have different feelings on COVID-19 and their ability to work safely, from total concern to no concern at all.

He explained, "You want to make sure your customers are safe. You want to make sure your staff and everyone is taking appropriate precautions. But getting in the house... 'Hey, I'm ready, willing and able, and I want to buy a house and I want to see that house at 123 Maple Street, and if the seller or the
or or the other people around me are nervous about that situation, are there other creative ways to let me see the home?"

Childress says virtual home tours are a viable option.

While the market is still hot, potential job loss and business shutdowns means the future is uncertain.

"Depending on how long we're kind of on a quarantine-type situation is really going to tell how long it's going to last. But so far, even if we had a few less people looking at homes because of that type of situation, our market is still extremely strong," Childress said.

When it comes to layoffs and home buying, Yun says he hopes the stimulus efforts being discussed in Washington DC will counter that.