Last Saturday afternoon, my phone started ringing off the hook. I was at my wife’s salon helping her pack up a few things so I wasn’t paying attention to the news that day. The first thing I saw was a text from one of my agents saying, “All my clients are calling me freaking out. Please call me!” That was the point I found out about the mayor’s “stay at home ordinance.”
At that moment, I wasn’t sure how this would affect our client’s ability to close on their homes. At any given time my real estate team typically has anywhere from ten to twenty homes under contract and on Saturday afternoon as the announcement was made, we had sixteen families under contract to either sell or buy a home in the next 45 days. There was good reason for our clients to be scared. If this ordinance didn’t exempt them, many of those people could have been left homeless.
Fortunately, the REALTOR® association of Kansas City was able to work out a plan with the mayor’s office to allow these closings to continue. On Monday as they were working out the details, there were just over 3,500 families in the greater KC area that were under contract to either buy or sell a home. The mayor agreed that while he’s asking the public to stay home, making sure people have a home to stay in is absolutely vital, so he allowed these services to continue. Our families were sure glad to hear that news on Monday afternoon and so was I.
Since then we’ve had to scramble to figure out ways to make that happen safely though. We’ve had to change just about everything we do throughout the entire process. Our buyers who just got under contract have to decide if they’re OK with our home inspector going to the home alone and then emailing them the full 30-page report afterward. Some appraisers have shut down their business temporarily so we have to find those who are willing to go to the home and do an appraisal. When they come over to the house, we have to ask the sellers to leave for 30 minutes where normally they wouldn’t need to do that. The lenders have completely changed many things in their process too and the title company we use is now giving our clients the choice of whether to come into their office and sign, or they can stay in their car and our agent will hand them the closing documents through the window, then come back out again when they’re done signing. I joked with our closing agent, “Do you guys have a drive-through window at your office?”
As I write this article, I think we finally have everything in place to guarantee all of our clients can close on time and go through the entire process safely. This week I’ve spent countless hours on the phone, on Zoom calls, sending emails, and reading updates from the mayor’s office and Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS®. Behind the scenes, I’ve seen lenders closing their doors (yes, in only a few days that can happen), I’ve seen other REALTORS® panicking and giving their clients bad advice, and I’ve heard many people assume this will send real estate and home prices into a nosedive.
During this week, my team has been in constant communication with all of our sellers and buyers, assuring them this is a very short term problem and it will pass. Once it does, there is simply no reason to believe it will hurt the real estate industry. We’ve been in a very strong seller’s market for the last five years. There are still a lot of buyers that want to buy homes this year and there will still be a shortage of available homes for them to buy, which will continue to drive home prices upward. Actually, my biggest concern is how my real estate team will be able to handle all that business this spring/summer because we will likely have an extra 30 days of pent up demand during this “stay at home ordinance.” I’ve spoken with many other top agents in Kansas City and we all agree that when this is over, we’ll likely see the real estate market explode!
If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk, please do not hesitate to call me at 816-651-9001. – Ron Henderson