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Pandemic sparks hottest real estate market in years

Long Beach real estate agents facing busiest market in years

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A lot of businesses may be slow during the coronavirus pandemic, but the real estate industry is having some of its busiest months in years as people seek to leave crowded urban areas to take advantage of Long Beach’s sea air and wider spaces.

Longtime real estate juggernauts Joyce Coletti, an agent at Douglas Elliman, and Leah Tozer, of Engel & Vöelkers, both in Long Beach, said that the last couple of months have been some of the busiest of their careers. With the pandemic forcing people to quarantine, individuals are now looking to more space and fresher air.

The National Association of Realtors released a report stating that housing market activity this June jumped 20.7 percent from May 2020.

“I’ve never been so busy in my life,” Coletti said. “There are bidding wars every day,”

Coletti, a top saleswoman since 1999, said that with the right pricing and the right agent, any house could be sold in this current climate. But she said there is a shortage of inventory as the pace of sales picks up.

Since January, Coletti has sold 27 properties, 15 are currently under contract, six are going into contract and she still has another 14 listings as of Monday. She added that she has been working seven days a week and the pandemic has made the market “crazy.” She added that the last time she saw a market like this was after Hurricane Sandy, when many Long Beach residents were looking to escape the barrier island.

Tozer, who has more than 16 years in the Long Beach real estate market, echoed Coletti’s sentiments and added that not only do people want more space, but better schools and overall better quality of life.

“I have not seen a market like this in a very long time,” Tozer said. “Anything that is under $650,000 does not sit. It is flying off the shelf. “

Exceptionally low-interest rates are also driving the market, Tozer said.

This month, the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to a record low of 2.87 percent, according to Mortgage News Daily. Tozer added that the low-interest rates give buyers more power to purchase and banks are also making it easier for those with good credit to purchase homes.

“The buyers who are out there today are buyers that are going to close,” Tozer explained. “You have less of an inventory and such a high demand, that only makes that market.”

Similarly to Coletti, Tozer said the sellers need a knowledgeable and experienced agent to sell their home in this climate. Tozer currently has 31 listings and nine under contract. Along with Coletti, Tozer is a top agent in Long Beach.

The pandemic has also made showing a house a bit different. Tozer said more disclosures have to be signed. Open houses are in 15-20 minute intervals. Buyers wear gloves, masks and booties during house showings. Tozer said that the pandemic has not stopped people from going out to see the houses.

Though, Tozer predicts that this climate will continue like this for the next couple of months, she said she believes that the market is heading for a major housing crisis. She noted that many individuals aren’t doing well financially and others have applied for forbearance for their mortgages.

“I feel like we’re back in 2008,” Tozer said. She added that when short sales and foreclosures are allowed to return, the market will look vastly different.