March Newsletter- False Start, Pandemic

Normally, I would have a lovely picture of spring full of discussions of the spring market activity but, as we all know, there is nothing normal going on in our lives right now. We now use the new term “social distancing”, kids are distant learners from home, churches are learning to stream their services online, families are using Zoom or Google Hangouts to connect and many have been laid off as their employers have been forced to close.

When Italy began to have major struggles all of the world leaders began to realize the seriousness of this particular virus. The COVID-19 virus as it is now identified as. The long incubation time of this virus has made it much harder to manage because many are spreading it unknowingly. We are all now trying to do our part to “flatten the curve” to lessen the strain on our medical resources as we limit our distance from others.

This world pandemic has been unprecedented. Many who study real estate markets have been trying to compare the impacts of this pandemic to previous events but there is nothing to compare to this sudden cessation of the economy.

False Start

Our real estate markets had taken off in January and they were continuing that pace through February. The charts provided in this market update are from February as we don’t have all of the numbers in for March. Everything was going great until everything came to an abrupt halt with the sudden need to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Have you ever been to a track meet and a running event had a false start? If you recall our newsletter last month, it showed runners bounding out of the starting blocks. With a false start, runners burst out of the blocks at the sound of the starting gun only to come to a quick stop once the gun sounds again signaling a false start. Someone started too early so the race has to restart. This is how I visualize the housing markets in North Texas. The markets were off to a great running start, only to be halted with all momentum ended.

So as we take a look at this market update, we know that all of this was before any impact of the global pandemic was evident.

We will be watching the direct impacts of the Covid19 crisis on our markets so look for that in next month’s newsletter. Let’s now look back to “Pre-Covid19” markets in February for Denton, Collin, Dallas and Tarrant counties. Out of the starting blocks and going strong, we saw prices up, supplies down and volume up.

Median Sales Price Trends

The median sale price trends in all 4 counties are up YoY. See the percentages below. The stats from last month – Denton is down 0.95%; Collin is up 1.66%; Dallas is up 2.5% and Tarrant is up 0.83% from January.

FEBRUARY 2020
Denton County
$310,000 | +1.9%

Collin County
$337,820 | +4.0%

Dallas County
$246,000 | +4.7%

Tarrant County
$242,000 | +5.2%

Volume

The number of sales is up in all four counties with the exception of Tarrrant County which is down a slight 2.2%

FEBRUARY 2020
Denton County
1,084 | +16.7%

Collin County
1,150 | +11.3%

Dallas County
1,756 | +7.9%

Tarrant County
1,833 | -2.2%

Months Supply of Inventory

All four counties have a decrease in supply as the demand for housing at the first of the year has been strong.  All three counties have less than 3 months of supply. 

FEBRUARY 2020
Denton County
2.2 | -24.1%

Collin County
2.4 | -25.0%

Dallas County
2.5 | -16.7%

Tarrant County
1.8 | -14.3%

Days on the Market

The number of days on the market decreased in both the northern suburb counties of Denton and Collin.  The number of days on the market increased for the more urban counties of Dallas and Tarrant YoY, however the number of days on the market is less than Denton and Collin counties. 

FEBRUARY 2020
Denton County
42 | -4.5%

Collin County
46 | -14.8%

Dallas County
32 | +33.3%

Tarrant County
26 | +8.3%

Appraising During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FDIC have provided guidelines and some temporary exceptions to appraisal requirements. In some instances, an exterior inspection can be made rather than a full inspection and in some cases, a desktop appraisal may be suitable. This is a decision that can be made by the lending institution and perhaps with a discussion with the appraiser. Here are links to the recently published guidelines:

Fannie Mae’s Temporary Guidelines

Freddie Mac’s Temporary Guidelines

FDIC FAQs During COVID-19 (Answer #12 & #13 relate to Appraisals)

In most states and counties real estate appraisals for financial institutions fall into the category of “Essential Businesses”. There is some discrepancy in Dallas County vs the city of Dallas as to whether appraisers are considered an Essential Business. We are searching for further clarification on this but in the meantime, we continue to provide services to our clients in a safe manner while following regulations in the counties and cities we service.

Please know that we have been taking precautions during this time to keep ourselves and others safe. If someone in your house is sick please inform the appraiser prior to the inspection. Please turn on all lights, open all doors and gates. Secure your pets. This eliminates the need for us to touch anything. Here is a link to a helpful article on helping an appraiser during an inspection as it relates to COVID-19.

What Homeowners Can Do to Assist The Appraiser During the Coronavirus Pandemic– Birmingham Appraisal Blog

We can all work together during this time to stay safe. We will continue to stay abreast of appraisal guidelines and local, county and state guidelines. As we watch the markets, we will be paying particular interest to listings and pendings as they can give us a little bit of a peek into the future.

As my grandmother often tells me, “this too shall pass”. I believe her. She lived through World War II and the Great Depression. She has been a steady rock in the lives of our family. Now she is in a nursing facility in quarantine, as she is at risk at the age of 91. I miss being able to see her. We pray that this will pass sooner than later and that we all come out stronger on the other side of this. We pray for health and safety for each of you as well. With that, I will leave you with a spring picture- change is coming and we will weather this storm.