Local real estate experts predict housing will play a big role in economic recovery.
Despite the many uncertainties of COVID-19, it’s clear that innovation and creativity continue to shine to meet the ever-changing constraints of today’s world. Several Boulder County real estate focused companies – lifestyle builder Boulder Creek Neighborhoods, real estate agency WK Real Estate and mortgage consulting company First Creek Lending – are mobilizing their decades-long partnership to meet clients’ needs in safe, satisfying and innovative ways. After all, “People still need a place to live. We’re helping them figure out how to move forward in a safe manner.” said Boulder Creek Neighborhoods Community Manager Micah Davidson.
Home buying in a pandemic
Surprising as it may be, home sellers and buyers are still active in the Denver real estate market. Resale data through the end of April indicates that though the size of the market has contracted some, pricing remains strong. For those looking to list a home, most Denver price segments are still experiencing a seller’s market, with low inventory and many homes experiencing bidding wars and settling above listing price. A recent survey through the National Association of Realtors® indicated that 77 percent of Realtors were working with sellers who expected to list their homes as stay-at-home orders relax in their areas.
WK Real Estate Owner and Managing Broker Dan Kingdom explained that, “Relationships have been strengthened as most agents have reached out to their entire client base and in many cases have provided assistance with non-real estate needs.” Kingdom and his team are daily “checking in with those clients that were in the pipeline to purchase or sell when the stay-at-home orders took effect and consulting them on the seriousness and time sensitivity of their real estate needs.”
Boulder Creek’s Micah Davidson suggests that the current stay-at-home orders have already begun to re-orient how people think about their home needs. “A lot of people have recently spent more time in their home than they ever have,” he said. “I see a lot of people being more aware of the space they use, and realizing their current home no longer fits their needs,” he explained. Davidson represents the Blue Vista neighborhood in Longmont, offering Boulder Creek’s popular wee-Cottage® series of homes. “The person that pays to have their large home cleaned but is now responsible for those chores themselves may realize they want to downsize. Or, the young family in a one-bedroom apartment that are now working from home may realize they need another room,” Davidson said. These types of lifestyle changes will continue to drive the need for housing.
New protocols, new technology
To protect clients, both Boulder Creek Neighborhoods and WK Real Estate revamped their buying and selling protocol within a few days of Governor Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order in March.
The key to real estate in uncertain times, Kingdom said, is “communicating, communicating, communicating,” adding, “In this current climate we are not able to communicate enough with our brokers and staff (and) on a one-on-one basis with our past and current clients, vendors and referral partners.”
Boulder Creek Neighborhoods, WK Real Estate and First Creek Lending are deploying state-of-the-art technologies and following social distance guidelines to assist clients in a COVID-19 world. “Boulder Creek Neighborhoods is strictly adhering to the governor’s stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders,” said Boulder Creek Sales Manager, Donna Lu Gamberg. “In accordance with safety recommendations, we offer all sorts of ways to experience our homes safely,” she said, including virtual tours, phone appointments and video meetings. “We disinfect the homes in high-touch areas prior to appointments and wear adequate PPE when meeting with potential buyers,” she said. “We can even write a purchase agreement on a new home entirely digitally,”
Davidson goes on to explain the home touring process, “Instead of walking with (prospective buyers) through the home, I’ll stand on the sidewalk and discuss what to look for inside, noting the key features. Then, I open the door, sanitize it, and allow them to walk through themselves.” Davidson counted five home sales in April. “People are motivated by the fact that they still need a place that they want to live in,” said Davidson.
Purchasing a home often involves many meetings, which have traditionally been held in-person. In these COVID times, Boulder Creek Neighborhoods, WK Real Estate and First Creek Lending are utilizing online video platforms for client consultations. “We’ve held video pre-drywall walkthroughs and virtual design center appointments,” Davidson said. Kingdom concurred, stating, “Greater emphasis and usage of 3-D technology for floor plans and virtual property tours, along with virtual open houses have been some of the ways that we have created a great online experience. Completely online digital client presentations for both buyers and sellers have also been a good way for us to adapt to the market conditions and limitations and connect with our clients.”
When a home moves to contract, documents can be signed electronically, sustaining the “no-contact process from start to finish,” Gamberg said. Trevor Bellows, VP and Mortgage Originator at First Creek Lending said, “We are exploring all programs available and using any leniencies provided by the agencies.” Home buyers may apply online for mortgage loans and close virtually with a remote notary. Similarly, no-contact and drive-through closings are the new standard. Bellows said, “We strive to make the home buying and lending process as low-stress as possible, pandemic or not.” Kingdom said he hopes some of the pandemic-forced developments that streamline the home-buying process, such as a remote notary, “will continue once we return to a more normal way of life.”
Housing will play an important role in economic recovery
Davidson, Gamberg and Kingdom predict the housing sector will play a leading role in pulling the United States out of the recent economic downturn. “Housing is a critical sector of our economy that will lead the economic recovery,” Kingdom said. Gamberg agreed, saying, “New home construction will continue to sell, especially because it offers a clean environment, and everything is new. Our buyers have a stronger peace of mind because the home has never been lived in before.”
Construction has not been considerably impacted by COVID-19. “Colorado has deemed construction as an essential service and, therefore, building has continued,” Gamberg said. Boulder Creek construction teams are creatively managing schedules to maintain social distancing and adhering to strict safety standards and mask wearing. As inventories in the Denver area remain low, new construction will continue to be a viable option for those seeking to avoid a bidding war in their future home search.
Gamberg said the homes she is selling – paired ranch-style patio homes at Superior’s Lanterns in Rock Creek – have fall and winter construction completion dates, while other Boulder Creek communities have homes available for move in within a few weeks. All Boulder Creek homes offer a low-maintenance way of living, with various outdoor maintenance chores managed on behalf of the homeowner (services vary by community). “These are the kinds of homes that people can still live fully in, even when they have to stay indoors,” she said.
Long-term investment wedded with long-term commitment
As Boulder Creek Neighborhoods, WK Real Estate and First Creek Lending continue to adapt and innovate to best serve their clients’ needs, the companies are dedicated to helping people invest in homes that will delight long after COVID-19 is front-page news. Gamberg said, “If anything, this challenging time has made us more committed to giving people the opportunity to live their lives fully, and our low-maintenance lifestyle gives homeowners the freedom enjoy every aspect of their home for long-term satisfaction.”
To see home photos and set up virtual or in-person (socially distanced) tours of any Boulder Creek home, visit LiveBoulderCreek.com, or call the online concierge team for information at 303.309.0088. Boulder Creek Neighborhoods offers low-maintenance patio homes, townhomes and cottages in Longmont, Superior, Louisville and beyond, with prices from the $300s to $1.5 million-plus.
By Sarah Huber, for At Home Colorado. Photos courtesy of Boulder Creek Neighborhoods.