What is the State of Real Estate? Maple Grove Father-Son Team Provides Perspective
Michael and Brandon Doyle continue to stay busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The father-son real estate team based in Maple Grove sold two homes this past week and has five closings later this month.
“People are out there still looking,” said Brandon Doyle with the Doyle Real Estate Team and RE/MAX Results. “What we’re seeing is the people who are out there buying and selling are more motivated.”
That’s not to say the real estate world hasn’t changed. Showings are down about 35 percent since last year, according to nationwide research from RE/MAX Results. But the number of showings has increased about 19 percent since last week.
There are signs of promise in the Twin Cities too. According to new data released this week from the Minneapolis Area Realtors, residential listings showed the first increase since they began declining in mid-March when Minnesota had its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. As of April 10, overall showings were up 16 percent compared to a week earlier.
“The low interest rates have helped keep things going, so a lot of buyers out there,” said Brandon Doyle.
Mortgage rates on a 30-year fixed loan are now around 3.4 percent, just about the lowest they’ve ever been.
Twin Cities Real Estate Market Reveals Pent-Up Demand
While homes are selling, the Doyle Real Estate Team is prioritizing buyers and sellers given the challenging times.
“We are focusing on people who need to buy houses and need to sell houses, not people that want to, ” said Michael Doyle. “People that want to do something, we’re asking them they wait until things normalize.”
Michael Doyle said he met with a buyer relocating from Michigan this past week. He also met with someone that needs to sell a house in Sartell after accepting a job in St. Paul.
“We still are seeing the relocation buyers out there. That’s been a big part of our business the last few weeks,” said Michael Doyle.
The Doyle Real Estate Team notes that the entry level market remains competitive. Anything $500,000 and above is slower. Still the Twin Cities was headed toward a banner year, realtors say, before the virus hit.
“March was off to a strong start until the middle of the month when everything changed,” said Patrick Ruble, president of the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors. “We even saw a double-digit gain in new listings, providing more options for buyers facing limited choices. The strength of the market preceding this crisis bodes well for a relatively quick recovery once this crisis is over.”
The Doyle team predicts a quick recovery too.
“We’re hoping that once the stay-at-home order on this is lifted, the spring market will start, and we’re hoping that will be in the beginning of May,” said Michael Doyle. “I think we’re building up a lot of pent-up demand here. There’s still a lot of first-time homebuyers out there that would like to get into their first home.”
Sales Done Virtually
Real estate is considered essential under Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order. However, almost all of the process now can be done remotely.
In fact, just last week, NorthstarMLS, the listing service for Minnesota realtors, okayed the use of virtual open houses on websites. That made up for NorthstarMLS not allowing in-person open houses to comply with social distancing restrictions.
“You just take your phone or whatever camera you have, and you would do this live,” said Brandon Doyle. “What’s nice is it allows people to ask questions in real time about the house and you can answer them.”
Realtors can continue to conduct individual house showings.
“When buyers walk through the house, we do leave all the lights on for them. We have cleaning supplies available, and we ask that you do not touch anything in the home, so they’re not contaminating the light switches, countertops, etc,” said Michael Doyle.
Like Father, Like Son
While these times have been challenging for realtors, the Doyles can take comfort in having each other around. They often bounce information and ideas off each other.
“Everyday I’m learning something new,” said Brandon Doyle about his father. “When I think I’ve got it all, I come into something that I have to say ‘hey what would you do in that situation?'”
Brandon Doyle has focused on marketing technology to help add to his father’s expertise.
“Brandon knows a lot about marketing, a lot about technology that I don’t know, so that helps out immensely,” said Michael Doyle. “Hopefully in six years I can hang it up and he can just take everything over at that point.”