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COVID-19 impacts supply of homes in Boone County


The Columbia Board of Realtors released statistics for single-family home sales in Boone County in March.

The average selling price increased by one percent to $232,947. The number of homes also increased by 17.5 percent from the previous year, but those numbers could look different in the coming months as the effects of COVID-19 become more clear.

Those numbers typically reflect houses that were listed in January or February but closed in March.

The businesses have already felt some of the impacts as realtors have had to change the way they show homes to follow social distancing and health guidelines.

"The biggest difference has been trying to limit interaction with people as much as possible which is really hard for a realtor," said Chris Martin, president of the Columbia Board of Realtors.

Realtors have been doing things online as much as possible. They have also opened doors and turned on lights for in-person showings to avoid people from having to touch surfaces within the home.

"You realize that you're bringing people into somebody's home and we've all got germs and that's difficult to control," said realtor Ashley Hester.

"If you're listing your home, it's not a vacant home, and you don't have to move you're really inviting the general public," Martin said.

"You're going to have a lot of people walking through your home that you don't necessarily know and that can be a little scary for some people," he said.

"Nowadays we can do all of our contract signings electronically, we can do all of our listings electronically if we need to with virtual tours and videos," Martin said.

Martin said the board has started to see a change in numbers for the beginning of April.

"It really seemed to happen when the stay-at-home order, you know, went into effect and everything got a little bit more real for Missourians," he said.

Hester said she has seen an increase in the number of people looking to buy homes.

"My business picked up drastically about two weeks into the stay-at-home order which I found very surprising and interesting, and I've been hearing that across the board," she said.

Listings in April have dropped by around 38 percent from April of the previous year. Martin said that a drop in supply has had the biggest impact on the market.

Hester said she feels the lack of homes listed may be because of the number of people working from home and schools and child care being closed.

The buyer demand for homes in the area has remained strong.

Martin said it is not unusual for there to be a low number of houses on the market, but there may be a small dip in May and June. He said he expects prices to continue to steadily rise.

Hester said she believes there will be a slight increase in the number of homes available after stay-at-home orders are lifted.

Martin said he expects to see things get back to normal as stay-at-home order begin to lift, but said the economic hit around the county and locally could also impact the market.

"I don't see my stopping my use of Clorox wipes and masks and gloves while showing for probably, I mean I'd say at least the next six months," Hester said.

Hester said she also thinks the housing industry will become more efficient and digitalized now that realtors and others have had to learn to work more remotely.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


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