Local Realtors Seek Essential Status For Industry

By Cece Nunn, posted Mar 20, 2020
A house for sale in Wilmington in February. (File photo)
Local Realtors have joined others in North Carolina in calling for Gov. Roy Cooper to designate the real estate industry as an essential service amidst growing restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

"We are part of the statewide effort to request that the governor maintains what we know is a key economic driver," said Anne Gardner, CEO of Cape Fear Realtors. "The economic stability of our region is something that's on all of our minds."

She added as an example, "We are working with a pending transaction pool that is the highest ever for this month," meaning home sales that are in the works.

"While there is no guarantee that every transaction will settle at the end of this month, pending sales is our leading indicator of transactions," Gardner said.

Tim Milam, president of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, said Monday, "The market is booming."

His company's statistics for the week ending March 13 showed a big gain over the same week last year for home sales in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Onslow counties, from 95 sales to 210. The sales volume jumped from $27 million to $56.7 million.

For the tri-county region of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender, CFR has not yet released its February statistics, but January was a record-setting month.

A letter sent this week from NC Realtors to the governor states, "The timeline of this pandemic and all the potential repercussions are unknown. In addition to health and safety concerns, our Association is also concerned about the potential impacts this will have on homeowners and other property owners who are in the process of buying and selling property, and therefore on the economy of North Carolina through the devastation of the real estate market. 

"With more shutdowns of and limitations on local and state government services to come, we respectfully request that you minimize the potential interruptions to the real estate industry by declaring real estate services as essential under the emergency powers declaration."

These steps have been taken by other states and county governments in North Carolina, including Buncombe County, according to the letter.

In addition to supporting the NC Realtors efforts, Gardner said CFR has been keeping in touch with its members, keeping them informed and helping them adjust.

"We are also working with our broker owners to adapt to sellers' showing preferences right now," she said. "Many brokers offer digital walk-through tours and in-house photographers when the property is listed, allowing for slide show tours already in our system."
She said CFR is working with the N.C. Regional MLS on virtual tours.
"We want to make sure that we're able to highlight the availability of virtual tour packages. With the existing demand for housing in our region, we are focused on resources for our members to facilitate business within the reality of necessary health and safety precautions," Gardner said. "because life situations that result in either the buying or selling of a home, they existed before the pandemic and not all can postpone indefinitely."

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