What Are We Seeing NOW?

April 20, 2020 | By Hope Marie Sneed

Perspectives From 10 Offices Coast to Coast

With multiple locations across the country, we enjoy a unique perspective on trends, markets and the housing industry as a whole. We are often asked “What are you seeing out there?” Lately, that’s become quite the loaded question.

From sea to shining sea, here’s what our teams and clients are telling us:

  • When land positions are strong, builders are moving forward with projects. They want to be ready when the “gates are opened.”
  • Those at the early stages of land deals are pausing – mostly to see if prices fall and they can get a deal. They still believe in the projects and will move forward soon.
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  • Because the national housing shortage persists, many feel this is a short-term set back. They are moving forward with construction as they want to be ready with homes when the crisis ends.
  • Pricing remains stable so far with little or insignificant discounting. However, there are predictions coming from both coasts that there will be a drop in prices, ranging from 5% – 10%.
  • We are seeing both ends of the spectrum regarding sales activity, obviously subject to price points and geographic differences. After a couple of weeks of slow-down, some are seeing buyers pick back up where they left off (10 – 22 net sales a week). Most are seeing some cancellations due to job loss, uncertainty, stock market losses, etc., however, virtual shopping and closings are helping to bolster activity.
  • Stimulus money in the form of the Cares Act, PPP and other government assistance has hit the economy now. This seems to have influenced consumer shopping and buying homes as activity has increased.
  • Innovation has been sped up by necessity. Look at what we’ve created that will be used long after this is over – especially new uses for technology as a communication tool. The use of visualization tools is increasing as folks look for ways to accomplish tasks remotely – virtual sales, showing resale homes, demonstrating floor plans and elevations, CA visits, etc. Read how our own CA team is dealing here.
  • Jurisdictions are causing delays on both ends of the building process (from approvals, permits and inspections), but larger cities and counties are using federal stimulus money to retain and/or hire more staff to deal with back-log.
  • From related construction sources (exclusive of oil and gas industry) – they are seeing construction projects moving forward. It helped that construction was designated essential in states that did shelter in place.
  • nullDesign shifts as we move forward: Addition of home offices/tech spaces (now may need more than one); co-living spaces designed for family and/or friends, with and without separate entries - including ADUs; “healthy home” areas (i.e. package cleaning spaces, quarantine rooms, etc.).  Additionally, there is already evidence of buyers wanting to migrate away from urban to suburban locals - creating a more permanent “social distancing” lifestyle.

During stressful times, it’s important not to lose focus on the big picture. For us, we are seeing a surprising amount of activity, with most projects moving forward as planned. We also know from experience enduring previous tumultuous periods that the end is in sight. We will persevere as an industry, and most economists think housing will lead the recovery. Hopefully that gives you confidence in the future – and maybe emboldens you to act today.

This article was first published on LinkedIn. Read that version here.