PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island’s housing market is booming, even as the country continues its battle against COVID-19.
Shannon Buss, the president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, told Eyewitness News that there are many contributing factors, including historically-low interest rates and an increasing demand for housing.
A recent report from the realtor’s association reveals that the coronavirus pandemic is having a “diminishing impact” on the state’s housing market.
Buss said despite a dip in numbers in both March and April, sales from single-family homes rose 30% in May and June.
“This past month, we saw we had a historic high for the average sales price on single family homes,” Buss said. “It was the highest average sales price that Rhode Island’s ever seen.”
Buss said there’s incentives for both buyers and sellers, but added that it’s currently “a seller’s market.”
“A balanced market has six months of inventory,” she said. “In Rhode Island, we have 2.4 months of inventory.”
Buss said bidding wars are causing the homes to sell at higher prices, and she said it’s beginning to get “pretty fierce out there.”
“People are willing to pay more than the asking price to get into the home that they want,” she said.
Emmalyn Reid told Eyewitness News she’s been searching for a home for almost a year now.
“We were hoping to be moved in by January of 2020, but now we’re still renting again for this year and just hoping we’ll find the right fit soon,” Reid said.
The biggest challenge, according to Reid and her husband, is being outbid by other prospective home owners.
“We bid on several houses we felt confident on,” she said, adding that each time, they were outbid.
Since most Rhode Islanders have been spending more time at home because of the pandemic, Buss said this is causing people to begin to re-envision their home.
“Instead of downsizing, which we saw in the last recession, a lot of folks are actually moving up in homes and looking for some more space,” she said.
Buss said the difference between the 2008 Recession and the coronavirus pandemic is that what happened years ago was strictly a financial crisis.
“This is a health crisis,” she said. “[In 2008] we had a lot of distressed properties because folks started losing their homes, and it wasn’t so much because of job loss, it was more because it was very easy to get a mortgage back then.”
Buss also said improvements in technology have helped potential buyers from viewing a home without actually visiting it.
“We’re utilizing 3-D tours, floor plans, live video… all kinds of tools,” she said. “I mean, these tools always existed, but we didn’t use them as much as now. It’s almost become standard.”
Buss stressed the importance of making the necessary preparations before jumping into the housing market.
“It’s critical first that you know consult a realtor, because they’re on the front lines and they can give you a very clear picture on what that market looks like depending on what you’re searching for,” she said. “But it’s critical that they go through that pre-approval process and that they’re ready to pull the trigger.”