Eugene real estate market hopes for stability amid pandemic

The real estate market is no exception to the number of industries that are having to adjust to a socially distanced world.

Posted: Apr 2, 2020 7:24 PM
Updated: Apr 2, 2020 7:32 PM

Eugene, Ore. -- The coronavirus pandemic has sent shockwaves through the world economy, affecting nearly every sector from public to private.

In the United States, staggering unemployment numbers have led to relief measures taken for not only property owners but renters and homeowners as well. The state of the real estate market, however, varies from place to place, and in Eugene, there is some cause for optimism.

"There are some clients out there that are expressing some hesitation and rightly so," said Leah Hyland, a local real estate agent. "There's some uncertainty about the economy but one thing that I know for sure is that real estate is a solid long-term investment."

Brokers and prospective home buyers have both had to adapt to a socially distanced world, with virtual home tours and digital signatures seeing usage now more than ever. As construction continues for a great many developments, the market is still kind to those looking to move out, but not as simple for those aiming to find a new place to live. 

"We use months of inventory and in January and February we had about 1.5 months of inventory, which makes it a seller's market," Hyland said. "A shortage of housing is really anytime that we have less than six months of inventory and there is more demand than there is supply."

During the week of March 22, the Oregon Employment Department received 92,700 initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits. And with Gov. Kate Brown's order to put a stay on evictions for 90 days to discourage throwing out tenants that may have lost jobs or businesses, the number of property buyers in the area may shift in coming weeks. 

For those still aiming to buy property in Eugene, the traditional ways of looking at houses has changed as well. With the market remaining as competitive as ever so far, in-state and out-of-state buyers have had to rely increasingly on seeing the house through the lens of a camera or phone. Hyland mentions that real estate agents have been going more digital, especially with prospective out-of-state buyers, but what with COVID-19, concerns and social distancing measures firmly in place it has become the norm. 

"Zoom meetings, FaceTime, virutal tours of properties, digital signatures and when it's absolutely necessary to meet on-site, we arrive early, sanitize surfaces and maintain social distancing," said Hyland. 

General contractor Michael Scnear works on The Nines, a new housing development up by River Ridge Golf Course in Eugene. Since the market has remained competitive, he hasn't seen a wholesale drop off in work opportunity, but there have been small changes here and there. 

"A few things that aren't available like going into the city for certain things," Scnear said. "The inspectors will meet you out here. Same with the county -- the county building is closed but you can do things online and things like that."

Business has continued out at the developments he works at, but around the community jobs like interior remodels are being put on the back burner. That said, Scnear remains optimistic that the real estate market in our area will remain stable.

"I think it's a lot different than the (2008-2009) housing crash situation," Scnear mentions. "I think things will bounce back once this virus has run its course. There is still a housing shortage, there is still a shortage of skilled employers and employees, so I don't see a lot changing. I think we're gonna adapt a little bit and keep moving forward."

Even with virtual tours, digital signatures and other measures to allow prospective buyers to see their new home, there is an inherent hope that the market will remain stable, even through the worst of the pandemic.

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