In the words of a veteran Realtor: “COVID has made ‘home’ more important than it ever was.”
This, and the circumstances surrounding COVID, have lit a fire under the Capital Region housing market, where houses are selling much more quickly and for much more money than before the pandemic.
“Selling was kind of a crazy experience,” said Emily Paulsen, formerly of Delmar. “We actually had people driving past our house 30 minutes after it was listed.” The money in the eventual sale deal was great but the stress was high.
As it turned out, buying the trade-up house in Guilderland would prove every bit as harrowing for Paulsen and her husband.
Their experiences are likely among the more extreme anecdotes in the local real estate industry, but they are far from alone.
Paulsen and O’Brien were represented in both transactions by Dona Frank-Federico and Laura Murphy, a member of Frank-Federico’s team at Select Sotheby’s in Saratoga Springs.
Frank-Federico said the couple’s experience was more convoluted and stressful than normal, even amid the high-tempo market over the past year.
With the near-shutdown of the industry in March and April 2020 and continued restrictions in May, she thought sales were done for the year. “But it was the opposite — all the things you think wouldn’t happen, would happen.”
She had buyers from New York City, Iowa, California. She had local people who wanted to borrow at low rates to stop renting and start owning. She had people who wanted more and better living space because they were spending so much time at home.
“It was like the perfect storm and it took us by surprise in the beginning,” she said.
“But we did it. I had my best year ever in real estate and it was bittersweet because a lot of my family didn’t have jobs.”
She also lost friends to the virus.
“It was a lot, and it was emotional,” she said.
Some takeaways for Frank-Federico:
- Houses with pools sell very quickly if priced reasonably;
- Houses without high-speed internet service are a very tough sale, regardless of price;
- Some of the people who decided to leave New York City, epicenter of the pandemic, just packed up and left, and stayed in an Airbnb until they could buy a house;
- Luxury houses haven’t had as much sales growth because the people buying them often have multiple residences and don’t feel pressure to buy immediately;
- Open space around the house is a big selling point;
- Saratoga Springs retains its appeal.
Frank-Federico also feels that the upward pressure on prices can’t sustain itself forever.
“I personally believe there’s going to be a bit of a remorse around when it comes time to sell,” she said.