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Mid-Ohio Valley realtors discuss COVID’s impact on housing market

The real estate market is seeing unprecedented times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inventories are low and interest rates are also at an all-time low, according to local realtors. (Photo by Candice Black)

PARKERSBURG — As many would agree, the coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of society and local realtors are seeing many firsts for the real estate market because of it.

In a nutshell, it is a seller’s market at the present time and houses are being sold so quickly that inventory is low. According to realtor Valerie Young, because of the low inventory, multiple offers are coming in for one home.

“The low inventories only gave people so much to choose from. The longer the pandemic has been going on, the less inventory we’ve had because people aren’t listing,” Young said. “At one point, there were less than 50 (listings) in all of Wood County, that would be half of a house per realtor.”

Debbie Douglas, president of the Parkersburg Area Association of Realtors, said for example, her realty company listed five houses on a Friday and by the following Monday, they were all sold.

“It is a very hot market. As of (last week) there (were) 200 houses on the market which isn’t a lot,” Douglas said. “Eighty out of 175 (realtors) have closed on a house this year. Out of those, 55 have closed more than one house. It’s interesting.”

Because houses are in higher demand, prices have increased but interest rates have lowered.

“The 2019 average price is $150,968 and in 2021, the average is $166,489,” Douglas said. “One hundred and twenty houses have already sold this year. That’s amazing to me. The National Association of Realtors say new home sales have jumped 19 percent.”

With people being at home during the pandemic, Young said they have been working on improving their homes because they’re spending more time there and seeing what needs fixed.

“A lot of people are staying at home and doing home improvements. Decorators in town have been doing a lot of (projects),” she said. “We have zero new construction, nobody is building houses. We’re all showing the same houses that are on the market. It’s a good market for a seller.”

Interest rates have been an all-time low according to area realtors.

“Right now with interest rates the way they are, houses are really selling. It really is a great time to sell,” Butch Joseph from SWC Realty said. “Most of my agents have multiple buyers that they’re dealing with and not enough inventory.”

Joseph said it is not uncommon for interest rates to be in the 2 or 3 percent range.

With the lower interest rates, Douglas said it’s an opportunity for people to buy a larger house with a potentially lower mortgage payment.

Because of the exposure risk, Joseph said people may be more leery of putting their house on the market because they are concerned about people coming into their home.

“People are more leery and careful, they don’t want to be in close proximity to people,” he said. “We take all precautions (by) wearing masks (and) we wipe down everything in houses.”

As a way to engage with buyers, SWC offers virtual tours.

“A lot of times before buyers go into a house, we go in and do a video,” Joseph said. “We’re previewing them for clients and after we send them some (videos), they narrow it down and that way they don’ t have to go into homes.”

For those who may be leery of putting their homes on the market, Joseph said it’s a great time to sell and with the low inventory and multiple offers, homes are selling at a higher price.

“We take all precautions. We have put hand sanitizer in homes we have listed, we ask everybody to use it when they come in, we ask people to wear masks,” Joseph said.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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