Virus changes the way homes are shown, sold


ROCHELLE – COVID-19 and the current stay-at-home order have impacted many people’s lives and many different businesses, including the housing market in Ogle County.

While the effects the virus has had specifically on sales differs between realty companies, the overall changes it has forced to the way showings and sales are conducted is the same on them all. Since the stay-at-home order was enforced, realty companies have taken many precautions to follow all CDC and social distancing guidelines, to ensure the safety of both the sellers and buyers.

Some of these changes include leaving all doors open and lights on during showings to minimize touching surfaces, as well as sanitizing all surfaces afterwards. Companies have also started utilizing technology to conduct virtual showings and tours, via Facebook live and other video chatting platforms.

Other precautions being taken are using electronic signing methods if the customer chooses to do so and enforcing a four-person limit, including the realtor, at any showing. Some companies are also providing hand sanitizer, masks and gloves to cater to any buyer’s comfort level.

Many people, such as essential workers continuing to work through the pandemic, cannot delay their property search. So, while the market remains steady for some companies and others are experiencing the virus’s effects, every company is keeping safety its top priority.

“Our real estate market is still good and active in Rochelle,” said John Bearrows, real estate agent at RE/MAX Hub City. “However, in our office we make sure to maintain social distancing, limit touching of surfaces, as well as sanitizing to protect both ourselves and the customers.”

While safety precautions have been taken by all companies, not each one has seen the same pattern of effects on sales. While RE/MAX Hub City has not seen much of a change, RE/MAX of Rock Valley, in Oregon, saw a slight decrease at first, but has since seen an increase in both business and listings.

“When the shelter in place first started, things got quiet out of the fear and uncertainty of the real estate market, as well as health and safety concerns,” said Rebecca Hazzard, owner and managing broker of RE/MAX of Rock Valley. “However, as time has gone on, the weather has improved and interest rates have remained low, we have started to see an increase in business.”

While the warm weather has brought an increase in sales for some, others are still seeing numbers at approximately half of where they were at this time last year. While the numbers may be low now, an influx of sales is expected during the summer or fall market.

“What we are hearing from our economists is, there is definenlty a pent-up demand and supply waiting to happen,” said Christopher Tenggren, designated managing broker at Weichert Realtors. “Hopefully, what we are seeing is a differed spring market to either a summer or fall market.