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Selling your house during a pandemic Main Photo

Selling your house during a pandemic

Posted: June 07, 2020 by Coleen DeGroff

Selling your house during a pandemic is not a scenario that anyone could have imagined just a few short months ago.

Yet here we are.

Coronavirus breezed into the Gainesville real estate market in March just as the spring selling season was ramping up. Many homeowners who had waited until spring to list their homes held back, wondering if they'd be able to sell their homes.

The worry is understandable. We are living in extraordinary times.

We thought it might be helpful to provide you with a 30,000 foot view of where our Gainesville real estate market is right now by answering some frequently asked questions.

Selling your house during the pandemic - Frequently asked questions

Are homes in Gainesville still selling during the coronavirus outbreak?

Yes. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, homes are still selling in Gainesville, FL. In fact, Gainesville is still a seller's market.

Even before we came into our spring season in 2020, Gainesville's housing market was already tight due to low inventory. 

Alachua County homes - Months Supply of Inventory - April 2020

In their most recent market report, Florida Realtors reported there was a 2.9 month supply of housing inventory in April in Alachua County. So far this year Alachua County is averaging a 3 month supply of homes for sale.

What does a seller's market mean for home sellers?

A balanced real estate market (evenly favorable to both buyers and sellers) is considered to be when there is 5.5 months of inventory. When a real estate market has more than 5.5 months of inventory, the market is more favorable for home buyers because it means there are a lot more houses for sale than there are people to buy them.

At a reported 2.9 months of housing inventory, the Gainesville and Alachua County real estate market is a very strong seller's market (buyers have fewer houses to choose from). In a seller's market, home buyers may fight over the same house, often resulting in multiple offer situations. Generally speaking, homeowners receive closer to their asking price (when house is priced to market) in a strong seller's market.

How are Gainesville home prices?

Gainesville home prices are up; number of homes sold are down

There were 16.2% fewer single-family homes sold in Alachua County in April 2020 compared to a year ago.

Alachua County Homes Sold - April 2020

Median sale price increased 1.9% in April when compared to a year ago, from $241,500 to $246,000.

Alachua County homes - Median Sale Price - April 2020

Strongest selling price points

The  $200,000-$249,999 price point was the strongest selling price point in the Gainesville housing market in April 2020.

More Gainesville homes sold in two other price points during the month of April when compared to April 2019:

$400,000-$599,999 - 11.1% increase in number of homes sold
$600,000-$999,999 - 10% increase in number of homes sold

Homes priced between $150,000-$399,999 comprised the bulk of home sales in Gainesville and Alachua County during April.

Alachua County Homes Sold by Sales Price - April 2020

Having enough homes to sell continues to be a problem

Housing inventory in Gainesville’s strongest selling price band in April ($200,000-$249,999) decreased more than 22% when compared to last year. The other 2 price points that showed an increase in sales over last April also show a decrease in the number of homes available for sale:

$400,000-$599,999 - 7.1% decrease in inventory over last year
$600,000-$999,999 - 1.4% decrease in inventory over last year

With the exception of the $300,000-$399,999 price point, housing inventory levels continued to drop across the board during the month of April.

Alachua County Homes - Inventory by Listing Price - April 2020

Gainesville home sales for May: Preliminary figures

Although the official numbers for May won't be released by Florida Realtors until June 22, here's a brief look at our preliminary figures for the month from J. Parrish:

"Gainesville MLS reports 258 single-family homes closed in Alachua County during May totaling $70 million in volume compared to 377 sales totaling $101 million in May 2019. That's nearly a 32% decrease in closed units and nearly 31% decrease in closed volume.

But for the last 3 weeks of May 2020 (May 10-31), Gainesville MLS reported 285 new pending contracts for single-family residential product in Alachua County compared to 253 contracts written during the same period in 2019. That's nearly a 13% increase in single family sales for the last 3 weeks of May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. 

Prices are holding or even increasing over that same period. Inventory continues to remain one of our biggest constraints to sales with no indication that might change anytime soon."

How do I sell my house during the pandemic?

The steps you take to sell your house during the pandemic are pretty much the same as they normally are. Here are the main ways the home selling process has changed in the era of coronavirus:

The home selling process has largely gone virtual in this age of social distancing. Public open houses were strongly discouraged by the Florida Surgeon general for several months to limit personal contact. Photos, videos, virtual tours, and more helped to reduce needless in-person showings. 

Property showing rules sign for open house

With coronavirus restrictions easing, public open houses were recently reinstated with the guidance of the Florida Surgeon General. Even though public open houses are allowed, Florida Realtors and Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors still strongly encourage that virtual open houses be held in lieu of public open houses whenever possible.

Holding a public open house is a joint decision that must be made by both the homeowner and their Realtor.

Open house procedures

Although open houses have been reinstated, there are restrictions in how they are held to help maintain public safety.  All parties must abide by the following procedures in keeping with CDC guidelines:

  • Open house visitors are limited to the people involved in a transaction and no more than 4 people total, including the Realtor.
  • All parties must maintain social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet away from each other at all times.
  • No physical contact with anyone, including shaking hands.
  • All people entering the property must wash hands or use at least 60% alcohol hand sanitizer.
  • All people entering the property must remove shoes and wear a face mask or face covering.
  • Do not touch any surfaces during the visit including light fixtures, door handles, countertops, etc.
  • Do not share any personal property like pens, tablets, or phones.
  • Open house visitors must comply with any other restrictions as specified by homeowner and posted at home entry.
  • Open house visitors to limit time inside the property. If more time is needed, a private showing can be arranged.

Cleaning and disinfecting home before showing

Whether for in-person showings or public open houses, homes must be cleaned following CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting of households.

These guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contain a lot of helpful information, including how to clean various surfaces as well as recommended products to use.

Next steps

If you have been thinking of selling your house, we hope that you have found this information helpful. Your Realtor will provide you with even more detailed information specific to your needs and timeline as you work together to create a marketing plan for your home.

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