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Shawnee housing market sees low interest, lack of inventory during COVID-19

Kelci McKendrick - kmckendrick@news-star.com
Home keys.

Realtors at Century 21 Golden Key Realty in Shawnee have been working full steam ahead despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Interest rates are low, and now is the perfect time to buy dream homes.

“(The interest rates) are some of the best we’ve ever seen,” said Golden Key real estate agent Margaret Davis. “It’s just a perfect time for people to be buying homes and properties.”

Amy Bladow, president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors, said interest rates are currently down to 3 percent or 3.5 percent. In 2019, she said the rates were up to 4 percent or 4.5 percent.

“The rates are driven by the economy to keep the economy moving,” Bladow said. “So when things start slowing down, they lower the interest rates to get people to buy and put people to work,”

OAR worked with Gov. Kevin Stitt to make sure real estate was considered an essential business because “people still needed to move,” Bladow said, and Golden Key agents were as busy as always during quarantine.

Davis said she and her team have been working hard since the beginning of the coronavirus — more than half worked from home, and some were in and out of the office working. Agents had their phone lines forwarded straight to them, and business went on as usual.

Davis said interest rates are “excellent,” but the biggest challenge realtors are facing is a lack of inventory.

Bladow said real estate in Oklahoma has seen a surge in buyers but not enough listings. She also said springtime is usually a hot time for real estate, but with the pandemic, sellers were hesitant to list homes.

Bladow also added that since 2020 is a presidential election year, listings are down. For Shawnee specifically, she said the oil industry can also affect the housing market.

“I think because of turbulent times and unsure of what’s going on in our nation, people start to think, ‘Well, we better just stay put,’” Bladow said.

According to Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of Realtors, the number of new listings in April 2020 was 1,092, down by 452 new homes from April 2019, which was 1,544. May 2019 had 1,477 and May 2020 had 1,292. The number of new listings in June 2020 jumped back up to 1,397, only about 100 less than June 2019.

According to Bladow, OAR’s listing count for May 2020 was 6,168, a decrease of 6.5 percent from May 2019, which was 6,618 listings.

Davis said the houses on the market sell quickly, and many times they have multiple offers. Bladow said sellers will most likely get what they ask for.

“Because of the demand, it’s turned out to be a really good seller’s market,” Davis said. “We just need more inventory.”

According to OKCMAR, in 2019, the number of sales for March was 963; April was 1,011; May was 1,124; and June was 1,071. Compared to 2020, March was 899; April was 846; May was 844; and June was 1,019.

Bladow said that for every house sold, others are able to work, including appraisers, lenders, technicians, roofers and more.

“Real estate is almost the heartbeat of the country because it puts so many people back to work and keeps people employed,” Bladow said.

One thing that Davis said is missed the most at Golden Key in Shawnee is its hands-on customer service. 

“We like to go to closings with (customers),” Davis said. “We like to be there in the closing room and hold their hand because buying and selling real estate is a big investment … We like to be there just to give them moral support.”

Davis said Golden Key has been showing homes to potential buyers both virtually and in person since the pandemic spread in the U.S. Realtors have been taking the necessary safety precautions for in-person showings to help remove anxiety and protect customers.

The National Association of Realtors recommended agencies, during in-person showings, to adhere to social distancing recommendations, avoid shaking hands with clients, limit the number of people who attend the showing, ask viewers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer and to avoid touching any surfaces.

Davis said they are continuing to take precautions to provide the best service for their clients.

“We have taken the precautions that we feel like we need or can take, and we are working every day and continuing to serve our customers and take care of their needs,” Davis said. “We just want to continue to list and sell real estate because that’s what we do best.”