Austin Real Estate April 29, 2021

How COVID-19 changed the Austin real estate market

Local Realtors weigh in on changes seen over the last year


It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the world, and there wasn’t a single industry that didn’t experience major changes, including real estate. In the Austin area, changes to real estate could be seen across the board. Read on see what some of JB Goodwin’s Realtors have experienced over the past several months.

Realtor Rich Calzada, says home prices are “exploding like crazy.”

“There are so few houses for sale and so many buyers who want to buy,” he says. “It’s like if you aren’t one of the first ones through the door to make an offer that’s over asking price, you won’t get that house. That’s what is difficult right now.”

Calzada says first-time home buyers have it the hardest because average home prices have skyrocketed in the area.

“I used to be able to find someone a house for $157,000 in Hutto, but now the average is $368,000,” he says. “We can start in Jarrell now for small budgets, so I’m finding myself selling in Jarrell, Belton, Temple, Killeen and Copperas Cove. These first-time home buyers can’t afford houses in Round Rock or Georgetown or Cedar Park. Most people want to be within 45 min of Austin. They want the lifestyle but are willing to look far out.”

Realtor Thao Le agreed, adding that while the Austin area is seeing a lot of buyers—especially from out of state—there isn’t enough housing to go around. In addition to the Austin area being a choice location for major companies to move to, people from out of state are also choosing to relocate to the area because of the business environment.

“One thing I felt that was really important and lucky for Texas is the business here is almost maintaining normal, where people from other states, like California, are suffering a lot because of government policy,” she says.

Realtor Hayden Prentice is a relatively new agent, who has only worked in the industry while COVID-19 was around.

“Since I’ve been here, inventory has been extremely low and turnover has been extremely high,” he says. “Given than it’s hot, a lot of agents have gotten into the market recently trying to capitalize on that. As an agent there is a lot of increased competition and increased opportunity for homeowners looking to capitalize. One thing I’ve done that has been beneficial for me is utilizing social media.”

Because he’s not been able to have face-to-face interactions at networking events, one thing he’s done is utilized Facebook Marketplace.

“A lot of listings end up on there now, so I have been able to essentially send an initial message to the owner of the listing offering to do an open house for them, and I also include the fact that if I host two of that agents’ listings over the certain value, I’ll add in drone aerials as a thank you. That has for both agents and for sale by owners been extremely effective. I’ve had a 10 to 20 percent success rate. It’s better than cold calling.”

Since he started using this technique, Prentice has had an open house booking nearly every weekend.

“That’s important because when home seekers come in and don’t have an agent, an open house is an early starting point and that gives me the opportunity to pitch myself,” he says.

Prentice adds that he believes the main impact COVID-19 has had on the real estate industry is forcing agents to be unique in the way they network and find clients.

“You can’t do the typical things that are group meet up based, that have been staples for finding new clients in the past,” he says. “You have to get creative.”

Calzada adds that the way Realtors show homes is different now too.

“People are buying houses sight unseen, especially those coming from out of state,” he says. “As far as showing the houses, before COVID, it was, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and ‘Nice to meet you,’ and a big handshake and you’d get to know each other. Now it’s, ‘Hi, how are you?’ at a distance and maybe a fist bump.”

Going into homes for showings is different as well, Calzada says, because Realtors and potential buyers are asked to keep masks on, wear gloves if they are going to open any doors, and not touch anything in the home.

“The Realtor is the one opening doors and cabinets for prospective buyers,” he adds. “They don’t have free reign of the house like they used to. That’s a big difference. We also limit the people that come in during open houses and have even seen lines for open houses because they’re only letting one family in at a time. It’s scary for the owners of the house to come home after having a bunch of people in their home, so those are the big things we’ve noticed.”

Realtor Terri Richard said COVID never caused the real estate market to slow down, and now, it’s busier than ever.

“I have been extremely busy,” she says. “What’s changed most is meeting clients. That’s done virtually so I’m not having people come into the office. Most of what I did last year was leasing. I wouldn’t have people come in ahead of time; we would just meet when I had a property for them to see.”

Richard adds that closings have changed quite a bit. She has seen them done in people’s cars, outside buildings and more. Another big change that has been challenging is being able to meet with fellow co-workers.

“We used to have a sales meeting in person every week and trainings we could go and do, and we could visit with other Realtor and exchange information and knowledge and ideas, and that has just gone away,” she says. “We have our sales meetings virtually now but it’s just not the same. There’s not a lot of time to chat before and after, which would happen when we were in the office. A lot of that networking with other agents has been sorely lacking. I found that extremely valuable. For new agents that is especially challenging because they don’t get to meet anyone.”

If you’re looking for a Realtor, reach out to one of these experts today:

Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out to Andrea Curry, residential and commercial Realtor® with JB Goodwin. Ms. Curry has more than 13 years of experience serving the Austin and Central Texas areas. Call (512) 547-0823 today!