During a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic people usually try to stay out of unfamiliar places. That does not seem to be the case with the San Diego real estate industry.
“Well surprisingly this has been one of my busiest weeks of the year,” said David Gullifer, a real estate broker for Prolific Real Estate. “There are people off work and when you look at houses it’s usually in small groups anyway, two or three people, so they feel comfortable going to look for homes.”
Gullifer thinks people suddenly have the time they didn’t have before to get out and try to find a home.
“There’s been more buyers than there are homes, so buyers are looking at this as an opportunity, maybe there’s not as much pressure on the market, that they can find a home they’re looking for,” said Gullifer.
However, the number of people looking does not necessarily equal the number of people buying.
“No, actually I think there has been quite a bit of slowdown,” said Lawrence Godinez, a home inspector with Guaranteed Home Inspections.
When a home goes into escrow it needs an inspection, but the number of homes he checks out has taken a recent dip. So people are looking, but not necessarily buying. Godinez said, given the recent volatility of the economy, that’s understandable.
“I think a lot of folks are a little concerned about what the market is doing right now. They’re not sure what’s going to happen long-term,” said Godinez. “So there has been, I’d probably say, about 50% slowdown. Where I’m usually doing 10 to 12 inspections a week I’m doing roughly about six inspections a week.”
But that still means a lot of time in a new place so there are plenty of safety precautions being taken.
“No one’s doing any more open houses. We’re avoiding large gatherings. When we’re in-property we’re being very careful not to touch anything,” said Gullifer.
By all people involved.
“Previously I only wore my gloves on the exterior of the home. Now I use my gloves throughout the entire inspection,” said Godinez. “I do take them off for a period of time to check the plumbing and see if there are any leaks but other than that my gloves stay on my hands and then afterwards I go back to my car and use hand sanitizers to make sure I’m cleaned up.”
Godinez oftentimes does the inspections with residents still in the house. He tries to maintain the six feet of social distancing whenever possible, without making it look like he’s being standoffish.
“Actually, everybody appreciates that. In fact, I always like to let the folks know, hey I’d like to shake your hand or give you a hug but at this time it doesn’t make sense so we’ve got to take care of ourselves and everybody respects that fact,” said Godinez.
On Thursday the California Association of Realtors added what amounts to a coronavirus addendum to its contracts allowing for a 30-day delay to the close of any escrow if the process gets interrupted or slowed down due to the pandemic. So for the San Diego real estate market is still as close to business as usual as one can get right now.