By Crystal Harrell
As of April 7, the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) strain that has reached over a thousand cases within Riverside County persists, with new policies enacted in order to flatten the curve of new cases within the next couple of weeks—a time period that is crucial to slow the spread of the disease.
The city of Palm Springs issued a supplementary order that imposes fines for those in violation of rules set in place concerning emergency guidelines. The county’s typical fines for those violating emergency orders are usually $1,000 per violation, per day.
It is strongly encouraged that all citizens wear a mask or cloth covering for their face while going outside, with stores and transportation lines even denying people entry if they do not have facial protection. Effective face coverings include bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters, or other pieces of clothing that does not have visible holes. The California Department of Public Health recommends frequently washing cloth face masks after each use, or at least daily.
Riverside County sheriff department made the announcement that deputies will not be stopping vehicles or people on the street, or handing out tickets for not wearing a mask, but ask that citizens comply with that order voluntarily for the sake of keeping others safe from the spread of COVID-19.
“A lot of the people I have encountered without masks are politicizing their stances on it. They feel it’s an overreach by the government and that their rights are being violated. This is not a hill that people should be dying on when there are literal scores of people dying around them. After 9/11, we came together as a nation to help out our neighbors and it was the first sense of community our country had for a long time. There is now so much divisiveness that people really want to complain over something so small that could save millions of lives,” said La Quinta resident James Shelby.
Even with the mask policy implemented, these new guidelines have stifled a major industry critical to our economic stability, and that is real estate. Homebuying in Southern California has drastically been affected, going down 30% over the last month to the lowest levels in six years. There were 8,837 new escrows in the last 30 days, the lowest count since January 2014. The efforts to halt the pandemic’s spread has caused business limitations and closures statewide, and least 1.5 million California residents have filed for unemployment benefits.
“The housing market, as well as the agents, have been drastically affected. I personally have cancelled several escrows due to buyers backing out. We are dealing with a lot of ‘unknowns’: virus unknowns, financial unknowns, and business unknowns. We have new disclosures, new protocols, and a new way of looking at everything in general. We are charting through unknown times,” stated local real estate agent Anthony Bauer (BRE# 01253129).
Bauer believes that the real estate market will reflect the economy, with the longer that the majority of workers are unable to work, the larger the impact will be. As some sellers pulled houses off the market due to COVID concerns, others might be putting their houses on the market due to financial concerns.
“Obviously with more inventory, we will see more deals. And hopefully people will not make decisions based on fear. Every storm will pass. And if you are happy in your home then ride it out if you can. Prices will go up and down. Just remember the big picture and take it one day at a time,” advised Bauer.
Bauer recognizes the different reasons that people have for buying or selling a home, and he would like to spend as much time upfront with his clients to know their reasons why to educate them and make sure they make the best decisions to meet their goals. For more information, reach out to Bauer at 760-880-6037 or visit www.anthonybauerbroker.com.
Patti Gribow (CAL BRE#01987155) is another realtor that recognizes that life is ever-changing right now. She is fortunate to work with the company, Compass, and to be a team member of Valery Neuman Real Estate. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a reduction in the number of transactions, up to 30% in many areas.
Gribow recognizes that at this point, there is no way to know how it will impact the housing market in the future, but the first thing to watch is how lenders may tighten qualifications.
“It is still possible to buy and sell a home, as transactions are still closing. In addition, people are seemingly adapting to the new ways of going through the process virtually. Today partnering with clients in finding them a home has never been more important, and we stand ready to digitally walk with them through that journey,” encouraged Gribow.
Chris Miller, owner and photographer at One Point Media Group, is not an expert on the real estate market, but his workload involving taking photographs of listed properties, has dropped by about 60 percent in the last couple weeks.
“There are just a lot fewer people listing homes right now, it seems. We have had a decent amount of new business providing 360 tours on old listings, though. There seems to be a strong nationwide trend towards these 360 tours of homes, because realtors cannot show homes in person right now,” said Miller. (Visit www.onepointmediagroup.com for more info.)
Real estate agents and those involved in the housing market remain optimistic about the future, however, because of the resilience of the American people, yet are realistic due to the gravity of the crisis.
Anthony Bauer works for Compass.