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Area real estate market in recovery mode

Realtor reflects on what future holds for sector that got hit hard by COVID-19

By Lou Sorendo

Tom Haggerty, real estate
Tom Haggerty, real estate

The inability to do in-person showings and other COVID-19 related matters continued to impact the New York state housing market in May, according to the housing report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS®.

New York state saw a 44.5 percent decrease in new listings in May while pending sales plunged by 47.3 percent when compared to year-ago numbers.

Virtual showings of homes during the pandemic did help to keep the area real estate market alive. But for buyers, there is nothing like seeing and experiencing a home in real time.

Virtual showings are effective as good first showings of a property being that the client can gain a lot of insight by viewing images and information, according to Thomas Haggerty, a licensed real estate broker and owner at Century 21 Leah’s Signature in Fulton and Liverpool.

“We did have some virtual sales that took place during the pandemic, and they were simply contingent upon successful home inspections and financing that was needed to be put into place,” Haggerty said. “But by large, people really want to see the commodity that they are going to live in.”

Adhering to NYS guidance, realtors were only able to show houses virtually during May, resulting in 31.2% drop in new listings in Oswego County when compared to year-ago figures. Meanwhile, there were 61 closed sales in Oswego County in May, a nearly 35 percent decrease when compared to May of 2019.

Haggerty noted there is pent-up demand following three months of lockdown due to COVID-19. “There is demand for listings because there are so many buyers out there right now looking for properties to get into,” he said.

He said the global pandemic “has interrupted what we consider to be the normal cycle of activity and as a result of that, we missed the primary part of the spring season.”

“There are a lot of people out there who need to move, want to move, and just can’t find the place to move to. But we’re trying our level best to get them into places, that’s for sure,” he noted.

COVID-19 starts to wane: “Now that COVID-19 has eased up a little bit, we are showing properties in person with the proper precautions as prescribed by New York state,” Haggerty said.

He said people have been “very understanding and willing to abide by guidelines that have been set out.”

“The initial wave of customers and clients that are out there are more than willing to do whatever they have to in terms of equipment they must wear and distance they have to maintain to see a property live,” he added.

Haggerty said for the most part, people who are viewing homes already come equipped with their own personal protective equipment.

“When they show up to view a property, they are masked up and ready to go,” said Haggerty, noting most clients have their own hand sanitizer.

“Once we explain the rules about minimal touching of anything inside the house or on the property, they are willing and understanding to go along,” he added.

Haggerty said he is confident that the area will see a sharp upturn in the real estate market.

“I think inventory is going to come back. A lot of people are going to try to move into a home at this time, and the reason I say that is because of the pent-up demand and the fact that we’ve missed three months of this season,” he said.

Prices impacted: The median sales price of a home in Oswego County, meanwhile, was $108,247 in May, an increase of nearly 14 percent compared to year-ago figures.

Haggerty noted the increase is due to existing demand coupled with limitations on inventory, which caused market value prices to go up.

There were 295 homes for sale in Oswego County in May, a drop-off of nearly 24 percent compared to May of 2019.

“What did decrease, oddly enough, was dollar volume, which is a factor of home many homes are there available out there to sell,” Haggerty said. “For instance during last year, if you could sell 100 homes in a particular month and this year could only sell 80 during that same month, the dollar volume is going to go down, but the value of the individual or median market price is going to go up.”

He said everybody’s lives have changed as a result of the pandemic, not only in real estate but in many industries.

“The experience we all went through together is going to lead to experiential change going forward. I don’t see it going back to the way it was, but I see it improving by leaps and bounds to where it is going to be a year down the road from now.”

“What real estate office ever expected that they would need to have surgical masks on hand, and germicide and all the other stuff that goes along with it? It just wasn’t in our culture. Now, it’s in our culture,” he said.

Will things ever return to normal?

“Did we return to normal after Sept. 11?” Haggerty asked. “I don’t think so. This is another Sept. 11 event and something everybody is going to remember. Their lives are going to be from this day forward changed by that event.”