The number of real estate closings in Williamson County remained surprisingly normal during March.
The Williamson County Association of Realtors reported that the number of closings increased by almost 20% compared to the same period last year. At the same time, the median sale price fell by about 1%. The number of seven-figure homes sold increased nearly 50%.
Williamson County Association of Realtors president Jordan Vaughn said that while the numbers for March look fairly normal, real estate agents had already laid much of the groundwork for those sales before the coronavirus started affecting Tennessee.
“Most of what was in place, a majority of those continued to close, continued through the transactions,” he said. “There was a small percentage that pulled out in fear, or from a loss of a job.”
The true test will be sales numbers for April. Vaughn said real estate agents would normally be working in March to start sales that close in April or May, and he’s expecting a dip in sales next month.
An executive order from Gov. Bill Lee lists real estate services as essential, but Franklin’s stay at home order prohibits agents from showing houses in person. Instead, agents have to use virtual tours.
Still, the number of closings increased in Franklin last month, jumping from 157 in March 2019 to 178 in March 2020.
Outside the city, agents can still show houses, but Vaughn said it’s a challenge. Sellers have to be comfortable letting agents and buyers into the home. Real estate agents are only allowing the buyers — not helpful friends and family members — tour the home. Sellers are leaving doors open and light switches on for showings so buyers don’t have to touch those surfaces.
The Williamson County Association of Realtors encourages agents to use hand sanitizer, gloves and booties to cover shoes during showings. A state level Realtor group is “strongly discouraging” open houses.
Vaughn said some sellers have taken their homes off the market because they don’t want buyers walking through.
Home inspectors, appraisers and title companies are still working, but the Williamson County Association of Realtors is asking agents to be especially cautious during those interactions and limit physical contact as much as possible.
Nationally, home prices grew by about 3.8% last month, compared to March of 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors. A press release notes that the number of newly listed properties dropped sharply at the end of March, suggesting that home owners might be delaying the sale of their house because of the virus.
Vaughn said real estate agents will continue to look for creative ways to help people buying and selling homes. Even if that activity slows down in April, he’s hoping that it will bounce back later this year.
The good news is now that buyers are stuck at home they’re learning exactly what they want.
“People realize, as they're sitting and spending a lot of time in their home, is what they can and cannot live with,” Vaughn said. “They're reprioritizing the importance of certain features in a home.”