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Real estate market adapts during COVID-19

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Posted at 10:42 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 23:42:35-04

It's the time of year when home sales are typically hot, but COVID-19 is having an impact on the real estate market.

The Realtor Association of Acadiana plans to have a breakdown of how the coronavirus has impacted the market during the month of March by Wednesday or Thursday.

While many buyers and sellers have mixed feelings right now, agents are still showing homes, but they're also changing the way they operate to ensure everyone stays safe.

"We see people driving by, sitting in their car looking at our house. Our Realtor is also getting a lot of calls," said Lafayette resident Ellen McLemore.

Like hundreds of other people in Acadiana, she's trying to sell her home amid COVID-19.

"We had our house on the market before the coronavirus hit and we had great showings," McLemore said. "Everything was going well, but everything has pretty much stopped because I think people want to be respectful."

Though real estate is not identified as an essential business under Governor John Bel Edwards' Stay at Home Order, many agents are still working, but following strict social distancing guidelines.

Jim Keaty, Owner of Keaty Real Estate and President of the Realtor Association of Acadiana said agents are not doing open houses, but instead evolving how they do business.

"We're doing listing presentations virtually in some cases, not all cases," Keaty said. "We can do all of the paperwork virtually and put up into our system to share with buyers. There are a lot of buyers at home, looking at properties on their computers right now."

Keaty acknowledges some sellers have taken their homes off of the market and are waiting for the coronavirus to die down.

If a seller wants to go the traditional route instead of a virtual tour, agents are asking sellers to turn on all of the lights in their home, open cabinets and closet doors to minimize the number of surfaces other people have to touch.

"We don't know how long this is going to last, but the real estate market, the fundamentals were really strong going into this. We don't expect this is going to affect our home values in the long term," Keaty said.

As for McLemore, she's optimistic her family will make a deal soon.

"I really feel like this is just a blip and that it's going to pass. We are going to get back to normal and once it sells, we're going to pop open some champagne!"

Keaty noted many people are taking advantage of lower interest rates which could potentially give someone more buying power. Meanwhile, others are looking to refinance their mortgages in hopes of saving a little money.

We're told the best way to lock in a good rate is to contact your lender.