Charlotte Realtors expect blitz of activity from 'pent-up demand'

They're taking safety precautions, they say. And they anticipate a wave of buyers who are ready to pounce.

A version of this article appears in The Charlotte Ledger e-newsletter on May 1, 2020. Find out more and sign up for free here.

Real-estate agents are free to show houses again in Mecklenburg

Prospective homebuyers can once again tour homes for sale in Mecklenburg County, like this one in the Cardinal Woods subdivision in Pineville that’s priced at $324,000.

by Tony Mecia

For more than a month, Mecklenburg imposed severe restrictions on real estate and did not allow showings of occupied homes. That changed Thursday, and agents are anticipating a big wave of activity now that they’re free to show houses again.

In the second and third weeks of April, showings fell by half compared with a year earlier. Closings were down by 1/3, according to data from Canopy MLS.

The Ledger reached out to several local real estate agents this week after the county decided to lift its “stay at home” order and follow the more lenient state rules. They all said they are taking appropriate safety precautions and offered their thoughts on where residential real estate is headed. Comments have been edited for space and clarity:

Ashley McMillan, Dickens Mitchener:

I have several buyers who have either been on hold because we haven’t been able to show occupied or staged homes and several coming in from out of town who will be able to schedule a trip now. And I have one listing that will likely go active Thursday because it’s staged and would not have otherwise been able to be shown.  

I’ve noticed a pick up in demand/urgency of buyers in the last two weeks. I attribute it to seeing a potential end to the quarantine and possible solutions on the horizon.

There is a lot of concern from sellers who live in their homes. Should they allow showings? How do we, as Realtors, keep them safe? Lots of questions about this — we are working through it with our office on established best practices.  

Chip Jetton, Cottingham Chalk:

I will show as soon as clients are ready, while taking proper precautions given the times we are in.

There was unmet demand prior to the shut down, and thus far it seems that most buyers have kept their jobs and/or plans of moving here.  Much is still left unsettled and the economic outlook will be a developing situation, maybe for the rest of the year, but right now, it seems as though locally our market remains in a strong position.

Jessica Eudy, Allen Tate:

I think this situation separates the serious buyers from the “shoppers.” If they’re serious and ready to make an offer, then we will schedule a showing. If they have an extended timeline, there’s no need in jeopardizing them or the seller at this point. Agents have done great with video tours with their listings lately to make sure the buyer likes what they see before even considering going into the home. 

The demand is still there. With low inventory, we still have buyers standing in line waiting for a home to hit the market that fits their needs. I’ve seen or heard of listing agents limiting showings to one day of the week, with only one showing at a time, so that the seller only has to clean and sanitize the home once.

Missy Banks, Allen Tate:

I am definitely going to start showing houses as soon as possible. I have buyers who are moving here and really need to move as well as my buyers who are already here who have been using the last month or so to get pre-approved so they will be good buyers once they are able to look at homes again. Also, with such low rates, it’s still a great time for my buyers. 

Similarly, I have sellers who have been working hard to get their homes ready and are still planning on selling as soon as they can. We were planning on May 8 but now with the county restrictions lifting we can start the marketing process sooner. I’ve spoken to agents all over the city and we feel prices will remain high due to the low inventory and neighborhoods that were hot before will still see high demand.  

I have a website and my site traffic has been higher and site visits have been longer over the past month as buyers are really looking online. I feel there is still a great amount of pent-up demand and buyers will want to look again when they can.

Linda Henley, Cottingham Chalk:

Many people have been caught between homes or needing to sell or buy. People moving to our area from other locations were especially confused about the restrictions on occupied homes. We can do this if we follow safety guidelines.

I plan to show occupied homes this weekend using masks, gloves, and disinfectant in hand to spray where needed. The buyers and I will view the house separately and discuss over email or phone. My buyers are moving from out of town and have a contract on the house they are selling. They have seen the vacant homes available and have not found the right one yet. They do not want to move twice.

Callie Kelly, Cottingham Chalk:

I have appointments to show about 10 homes on Saturday to several different clients.

I am finding many clients are very anxious to start looking after the time “off.” I have several listings that are occupied, so we had not put them on MLS until now since they could not be shown. Those sellers are happy to be officially listing their homes so they can move on as planned. I anticipate demand will be good but I think it will take a few weeks before we really know.

Catharine Pappas, Dickens Mitchener:

I have been talking to transferees that are in the process of moving to Charlotte for a job. We have been helping them virtually since March 26th. I have placed many transferees in temp housing until they can actively look for a property. 

We are currently experiencing very low inventory and with the number of buyers waiting in the wings for the order to lift we anticipate a flurry of activity next week. 

Vickie Crawford, Cottingham Chalk:

I have talked to a lot of realtors; we are excited to be able to be back out there with buyers and sellers again as we start showing all homes on Thursday.  Sellers have been preparing their home for the spring market, and we have been helping them remotely. 

Lindsay Redfern, Cottingham Chalk:

I’m thankful that Mecklenburg County is now aligned with the surrounding counties when it comes to real estate as an essential business. Even with the virus, the need to buy and sell doesn’t stop, so this is welcome news. 

I don’t anticipate a flood of buyers ready to look right away. Just like the differences in opinion on “what’s safe or not,” some will be willing to begin showings, and others will still be too hesitant.  But throughout the month of May, I am anticipating the showing traffic to continue to ramp up.

David Huss, Allen Tate:

Realtors in Mecklenburg County are ready to get back at it. The demand is definitely there.  People have been buying houses based solely on virtual tours. I had listed a property in the $250s range last Thursday and had two offers on Friday evening, and it had not been seen. With the house I was working on Tuesday, we were finishing up a video in the front yard and a vehicle stopped and asked us if and when we were getting ready to put it on the market.

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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire; Reporting intern: David Griffith