In the month since Gov. Gary Herbert asked Utahns to start making efforts to social distance, real estate sales have continued in Northern Utah. Even with the new measures, home buyers and sellers have found success as Realtors have helped them use virtual tools and have implemented new safety procedures.

From March 16 through April 15, Northern Wasatch Realtors sold more than 730 homes despite the challenges from COVID-19.

In Weber County, Realtors actually sold more homes than they did during the same time in 2019. There were 388 sales, which is a 2% increase from the 379 transactions last year. The median sales price in Weber County rose 12% to $280,000.

Davis County felt a stronger impact from the virus. Realtors sold 341 homes, down from 416 sold mid-March to mid-April in 2019. The median sales price rose 13% to $350,000.

Morgan County sales remained the same with 9 sales in both 2019 and 2020. The median sales price fell to $365,000 from $430,000, but that’s likely the result of less expensive homes being sold this year rather than because of the virus outbreak.

While the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, forecasts home sales to fall because of COVID-19, he doesn’t expect a negative impact on prices.

“Unfortunately, we knew home sales would wane in March due to the coronavirus outbreak,” Yun said in a press release about U.S. existing home sales. “More temporary interruptions to home sales should be expected in the next couple of months, though home prices will still likely rise.”

Home prices should hold steady because the market faced severe housing supply shortages prior to the outbreak. Strong population growth and new household formations had created a situation where there were too many buyers and not enough homes. Even though some buyers have now decided to wait, there are many others who still need houses.

In fact, buyers keep signing contracts to purchase homes. In Utah, there are about 7,000 properties currently under contract, according to UtahRealEstate.com. That’s off by only a few hundred contracts from last year.

In Weber and Morgan counties, from April 13-19, there were actually more houses under contract this year compared to last year. In Davis County, the number of under-contract properties this year was not far behind last year’s tally. During this time frame, there were an average of 648 properties under contract in 2020 versus an average of 652 in 2019.

Transactions can continue in part because Realtors have implemented new technologies that allow buyers to house-hunt from the comfort and safety of their homes. Realtors are using online virtual tours and FaceTime chats to walk clients through homes.

“Despite the social distancing restrictions, with many Realtors conducting virtual open home tours and with mortgage rates on the decline, a number of first-time buyers were still able to purchase housing last month,” Yun said.

In fact, a new survey found that one in four Realtors had a buyer sign a purchase contract without physically seeing the home.

If a buyer decides to see properties in person, safety protocols are set up to protect all parties. Sellers are asked to turn on lights and open doors beforehand so buyers can avoid touching anything during the showing. The number of people seeing the property is limited and social distancing takes place during the showing. Sellers are asked to sanitize commonly touched surfaces before and after showings.

Buyers and sellers can learn more about navigating the real estate market amid the coronavirus outbreak by talking to their local Realtor. A directory of Northern Wasatch Realtors is available at NWAOR.com.

Shauna Ray is the 2020 President of the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors.

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