How Are COVID-19 Infections Affecting the Metro Atlanta Residential Real Estate Market?

Staff Report

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Kelly Stephens, managing broker of Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta and Engel & Völkers Atlanta North Fulton, has tracked residential real estate contracts signed in the 11-county Greater Atlanta area this January-April and compared those numbers to the same timeframe last year, along with the number of reported COVID-19 cases in metro Atlanta January - April.  She used data from the First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS) and the Georgia Department of Health to create the attached chart.

Not surprisingly, real estate contracts dropped as the COVID-19 cases rose, beginning in week 10 (March 1-7) when the Georgia COVID-19 cases totaled 22.  Until around March 8, signed contracts for 2020 were ahead of the same time period in 2019.  However, Stephens points out some positive news.  First, the residential real estate market has remained quite strong in metro Atlanta and this April’s numbers should only fall around 15% from last year’s figures.  She has tracked contracts signed, not just homes listed.  She also notes that as the COVID-19 numbers began to fall around April 5, signed contracts increased about a week later, around April 12.  She believes this increase is due to consumer confidence in the gradual re-opening of the economy and the expected lifting of the shelter at home guidelines soon, based on President Trump’s remarks the week of April 12.

Another reason the market has remained healthy, according to Stephens, is that the residential real estate industry was deemed an essential service, and quickly put new procedures and tools in place to allow buyers and sellers to safely conduct real estate transactions.  Online home sales information was already available, but real estate professionals augmented and strengthened online information, and buyers were advised to begin their home search virtually.  Sellers were advised how to best showcase their homes’ features via video, drone footage and professional photos.  Agents made sure the homes they represented were thoroughly disinfected before and after every showing, and often, turned lights on and off and opened doors for their clients to further safeguard the spreading of germs.  Contract signing can be done with social distancing and client-agent conversations are easy to accomplish by phone or teleconferencing.  The numbers show that buyers continue to feel confident as they look for homes and sellers feel confident putting their homes on the market.