Contracts and open houses are up as buyers and sellers who waited out the COVID-19 lockdown stream back into the market

Source: Crain’s Chicago Business, Dennis Rodkin

At the beginning of June, Rachel Frenzel was representing six homes for sale in Bridgeport, Midlothian and other locations. By mid-month, four were under contract, all after receiving multiple offers.

“It was crazy,” said Frenzel, a HomeSmart Realty Group agent. “It seems like after being stuck at home from the pandemic, suddenly people were out in force ready to find their next home.” 

Her week of craziness mirrors the news in a report yesterday from Midwest Real Estate Data, in which several data points indicate the Chicago-area real estate market is rapidly accelerating out of a slow zone imposed by the COVID-19 stay-home orders that are now lifting. Although real estate counted as an essential business under the orders, many buyers and sellers who didn’t need to move right away pulled back during the orders.

Those data points:

  • The week ended June 15 was the second in a row when more Chicago-area homes went under contract than in the corresponding week a year ago. It was also the first time that more homes went under contract than the week ended March 16, the last week before the crisis took hold. Buyers put 4,846 homes under contract in the week ended June 15, an increase of nearly 39 percent from the same time a year ago.
  • In the second week of June, the number of showings eclipsed the figure from early March by about 5 percent and was about 24 percent above showings at the same time in 2019.
  • Open houses are back. Nearly 3,460 properties had open houses in the week ended June 15. That’s more than 10 times the weekly figures from mid-March through mid-April, when agents found themselves improvising ways to show open houses via FaceTime and other virtual technologies.
  • Home prices haven’t dipped but have remained essentially flat in the latter weeks of the crisis, when a majority of properties that closed had gone under contract during the shutdowns. In the early weeks of the pandemic, prices were rising on homes that sold, but most if not all of those sales would have been contracts signed before the shutdown, and thus before any crisis-induced price-cutting.

Linda Lee Tuggle, a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago agent, put a two-bedroom condo in the Narragansett, an Art Deco skyscraper in the Chicago Beach section of Kenwood, on the market June 10, priced at $239,000. Five buyers called to look at it right away, she said, and once a solid offer was in hand, “I started turning people away when they called.” It was under contract June 14.

Tuggle said her sellers initially planned to put it on the market in the spring but delayed because of the pandemic. They were hesitant when they did finally list it, she said, but when it went so fast, “I’ve been talking to my other clients who held off, telling them the time is right.”

In the next several weeks, “you’re going to see a lot more inventory coming on the market,” said @properties agent Donna Lichtenstein. She represented a downtown condo on Canal Street that hit the market June 10 priced at $350,000 and was under contract four days later.

Both buyers and sellers who had been waiting during the shutdown “are done waiting,” Lichtenstein said.

Listen to the Crain’s Daily Gist: