This awful coronavirus may define our time. But it shouldn't; it should make us stronger, kinder and smarter, and hopefully it will. We have been seeing examples of that everywhere, from communities supporting the most vulnerable to individual examples of paying it forward.
The global human toll has been horrible - think of every person who has succumbed and how many are directly affected by that one loss. Then factor that by the current estimate of well over 300,000 lost and the picture is terrible.
Follow that with the effects of the economic tsunami, job losses, businesses lost, the inability of so many to provide the basic necessities, the effect on mental health, the list goes on.
Another major socio economic consequence is beginning to play out; that more and more city dwellers are making, or considering making a move to less densely populated areas, namely suburban communities and the rural countryside, which they see as safer for them and their families.
There are so many benefits to making the switch from living in the smoke, as we called it growing up in central London in the 1970's. Obviously benefit number one is the ability to move around without the constant proximity to other people which one experiences in cities, thereby reducing the risk of catching this, or any other virus. But raising a family with room to move around is healthy in other ways: The mental, physical and social advantages to children and adults is immeasurable. I remember when, as a kid in London literally kicking a football (aka soccer ball) around in the street, dodging cars and trucks, my brother was hit by a speeding car. Fortunately there was no lasting injury, but it could have been far worse.
According to new data from Harris poll described recently in USA Today, almost a third of Americans are considering a move to a less densely populated area, "foreshadowing a shift that would have a major impact on residential real estate sales and home prices".
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, predicts that “People will be much more cautious about living in high-density areas with so many people nearby”.
Business Insider writes that millenials are less willing now to gamble on urban real estate, and now that we are seeing a major shift to working from home, as long as there's a good internet connection, the need to be physically close to 'the office' is fast becoming less of a priority than pre-COVID.
Politico warns that "It’s now obvious, if it weren’t before, that staying in big cities can be bad for your health". With 60% of the world's population living in cities, that makes for an alarming potential number of people who may make the transition away from urban areas.
All in all, it seems clear that we may be in for a rush, once things open up, to find properties with ample space for urbanites to find their new Zen. Yet history is filled with events which forced populations to leave major conurbations only to see the balance restored in the years and decades that followed. It seems to me that the ebb and flow will likely continue to ensure that ultimately, the human spirit will endure, and mankind will live where it wants to.
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has quickly triggered novel ways in which real estate agents approach their business. Case in point is the fledgeling virtual open house.
Traditionally, we Realtors host face to face broker and public open houses, which enable us to promote our listings, and get the word out about a specific property. That all changed with the onset of this pandemic. Now, thanks to video, and live electronic meeting programs, we have the opportunity to host virtual open houses, where the listing agent schedules an open house as normal, bute adopts a platform such as Facebook Live, Zoom, Facetime or other similar live two-way video feed to 'virtually' show the property.
I'll be hosting my first virtual open house this Sunday April 19th, 2020 between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., at 3 Chinn Lane, Middleburg, VA 20117 , and I am pretty psyched about it! And mildly apprehensive too...as happens with something new.
I've chosen Zoom as my platform of choice, which I have been using for online meetings lately. Zoom has a lot of great features, one of which is requesting that participants register in advance, which I will be implementing. In this way, I will know how many 'visitors' I should expect, but it also allows me to offer a prize drawing to all who register - and attend! A fun incentive and another way to create extra buzz. It is also essentially a virtual sign in sheet, and will enable me to get feedback later.
Further, for this first virtual open house, I will be interviewing my client, the seller, while we both adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. Prospective buyers and their representatives will have the opportunity to ask her about her house, why she purchased it in the first place and what she loves about it. And what she will miss.
During this unparalleled point in our lives, there is a great deal of introspection going on. Perhaps many things we have taken for granted in the past will remain things of the past. Kindness and neighborliness, appreciation and generosity can be seen everywhere. Long may that last. But adaptability has seldom been a more critical tenet, one which we will all be working on the longer this goes on.
Stay safe, look out for one another - we are in it together.
Peter writes for his local magazine, Country Zest & Style, as its Wine Editor. He also enjoys writing blogs on interesting and pertinent real estate matters, so please follow!