COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - New listings in the Greater Columbia-Metropolitan area from April of last year to this year are down nearly 20%. Data presented from the Consolidated Multiple Listing Service in Columbia also shows a twelve-and-a-half percent drop in closed sales.
Uncertainty in the housing market loomed mid-March when President Trump declared a national emergency.
“I thought the market was done,” Trey Covington, a real estate agent with Weichert Realtors Ray Covington Inc., said. “I thought it was over with.”
Covington first panicked. He lost more than a million dollars worth of potential contracts the first week following the President’s announcement.
"Then, two weeks later, boom," Covington said.
Despite growing unemployment rates nationwide amid the COVID-19 crisis, buyers returned to the table to scoop up homes. Covington, with 20 years worth of realtor experience, credits the Columbia job market for that.
“Columbia has been stable,” added Covington. “I’ll tell you why. We have Fort Jackson, state employment, and the University of South Carolina. You have your income and employment aspects.”
Rachel Cooper, a real estate agent for Nexthome Specialists, says her company closed on 62 properties in April. She adds buyers are hungry with lower interest rates and fewer listings on the market.
"If they see a house that looks good to them, they have to move on it, and quickly," Cooper mentioned.
Real Agents, deemed essential employees within South Carolina throughout the COVID-19 crisis, adapted to the virtual world to sell homes.
And, Cooper points out Nexthome Specialist's integration of technology greatly assisted in buyer confidence.
"Because of so many videos and professional photography that's out there right now, I think more buyers will be making decisions from their couch," Cooper added.
The decision to purchase a home now must start with a stronger individual credit score. COVID-19 crisis impacts borrowers that look to buy.
Meet David Cain. He is a mortgage banker with Resource Financial Services. Amid rising unemployment numbers nationwide, tighter lending guidelines are in place for the Cain Mortage team.
"We're scrutinizing the job a little bit more," said Cain.
His mortgage team requires borrowers to have a minimum credit score of 660. It’s a higher score than previously required pre-pandemic economic conditions.
“Signing additional documentation that they are not going to be laid off,” Cain added. “We will look at overtime and commissions a little tighter.”
Cain's team will work with new clients that do not meet the qualifications.
On a more positive note, lower interest rates allow room for clients to refinance their mortgage.
“There’s been a nice window for people that are currently working and stable,” Cain said. “Take advantage of lower rates, which can save them money and put themselves in a better financial position.”