The COVID-19 pandemic has generated unprecedented disruption worldwide, triggering seismic shifts across every industry, with real estate being one of the most heavily impacted. Now, as restrictions are lifting in Miami-Dade County – as well as throughout the United States and across the globe — it remains to be seen what the “new normal” will look like as it relates to housing, specifically.
While it’s too early to make definitive predictions, signs of recovery in our market are, indeed, evident…and there is hope that we will reclaim much of the momentum that was building before business began to slow.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, for example, sales in Miami-Dade County were strong. In addition to having been buoyed by a solid economy, South Florida’s real estate market was seeing a steady return to a more balanced level of inventory. This momentum swelled in the first quarter of 2020, and until we entered mid-March — as the coronavirus began to spread — our market saw year-over-year double-digit increases in sales.
Now, as day-to-day activity begins to resume and we start to look beyond the immediate impact of the crisis, the results of our market’s not-too-distant past (pre-COVID) may be a positive indicator of what’s in store for our future.
A new study by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty of the Southeast Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service (MLS), comparing the May 1-20, 2020 timespan with the April 1-20, 2020 period, unveiled an important uptick. In the report, analysis revealed that, while there was a dramatic decrease in all Miami-Dade County residential metrics (new listings, new contracts written and closed sales) during April, 2020 compared with prior-year April, the metrics for the numbers of new listings and new contracts written during the first 20 days of May, 2020 rebounded nicely for all product segments, with the exception of the over $1 million condominium market, against the same 20 days in April, 2020.
In the May 1-20 time-frame (as compared to April 1-20), new single-family home listings were up 29% in the $1 million-and-under price-point, while new single-family home listings in the $1 million-and-over price-point were up by 65%. New contracts written during the same time-frame were up 82% and 29%, respectively.
“Even though Miami-Dade is still in the process of relaxing COVID restrictions that were placed in effect in mid-March, at the start of May 2020, we saw a healthy increase in activity for the May 1-20 time-frame, compared to the April 1-20 time-frame — with the exception of condominiums priced in excess of $1 million,” said Ron Shuffield, President and CEO of BHHS EWM Realty. “While not at the levels we’ve seen year-over-year in previous selling seasons, the May growth is certainly noticeable, especially when compared with the plunging decreases we experienced in April.”
In the meantime, for the foreseeable future, several trends are expected to hold. Digital services (from virtual open homes and presentations to virtual notaries and closings) will be an operational mainstay. Precautions like masks will continue to be in place during showings and in-person meetings. As it relates to demographics, it’s expected that an even greater influx of buyers will migrate to South Florida from the Northeast. Already burdened with high income taxes, these families are now seeking communities with a lower density of population. Additionally, where feasible, it’s anticipated that flexibility in the workplace will only continue to increase. In the wake of COVID, many employees are expected to forego their commutes and remain remote. These changes will undoubtedly lead to lifestyle adjustments at home (for instance, a need for one or even two home offices, larger living spaces, etc.).
“While we will certainly continue to analyze the evolving day-to-day changes in the metrics of our business, we remain highly optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction,” added Shuffield. “Our market has experienced a bounce-back in recent weeks, and we are, to say the least, extremely encouraged by the implications — both for our local economy, as well as for the overall welfare of our community.”