SoCal realtors: Housing markets see shift in real estate 'fundamentals' amid coronavirus outbreak

As the U.S. financial markets have taken recent blows amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, many are keeping a close eye on the local housing markets.

Realtors across Southern California are entering the start of their busy season with a lot of uncertainty - even as the market saw a boost in activity after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates last week.

"There's interest rates that have never been seen in this current economy," said realtor Frank Guardado. "And that's driving a lot of individuals to come in and refinance. And for individuals who have a purchase transaction going on, they're locking their interest rates."

Despite that optimistic outlook, the National Association of Realtors predicts a 10% drop in home sales in the next couple of months.

Still, the association's data shows 78% of members have seen no change in buyer interest as a result of the coronavirus. Additionally, 87% of those surveyed said it hasn't affected the number of homes on the market.

Relator Suzanna Seini says she hasn't come across any sellers that abruptly decided to pull out of selling their homes - but she has noticed a shift.

"What I have seen is really the fundamentals of real estate changing a little bit," she said.

Seini said she's noticed an uptick in FaceTime calls with clients and the use of 3D tours of homes online - tools that may help calm nerves of those who fear holding open houses or person-to-person contact.

"I would say that we're prepared with the technology. The fact that we have these tools readily available will help us through something like this," she said.

Though it may be too soon to predict the long-term effects on the housing market, Guardado is encouraging prospective home-buyers to start looking at listings.

"There is no playbook on this, but we definitely don't see the market dropping the way it did back in 2007 and 2008," he said.
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