It’s still too early to predict the impact of Covid-19 on the Los Angeles housing market. Realtors and other industry professionals remain hopeful, utilizing virtual tours and online connectivity.
Los Angeles was on track for a banner year in real estate. Prices were predicted to soar even
higher than they did in 2019, and low interest rates were enticing buyers to take action.
But that was before Covid-19.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus, Los Angeles is wrestling with the same sense of mounting
uncertainty that’s palpable across the globe. Government officials of all stripes have
encouraged social distancing and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued temporary
restrictions on gatherings of 50 people or more, stating, “…our decisions today have the power
to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”
While the impact on restaurants, bars and some retail spots has been almost instantly
detectable, gauging the widespread effects on other industries, including the Los Angeles
housing market, will take some time.
Thought it’s too early for relevant statistical data, Wall Street losses and general economic
instability will certainly factor into housing market activity in the coming months. The
dispensation of information about Covid-19 has been rapid and constantly evolving, but one
thing seems certain – open houses will look very different for the foreseeable future.
In light of the pandemic, many Los Angeles realtors are hosting “virtual open houses.” Potential
tenants can log in and participate in virtual tours via Facebook Live, Instagram or Skype, rather
than risk exposure to dozens of other interested parties. Similarly, video tours provided by
online rental platforms can help fill the gap created by social distancing. Zillow economist Jeff
Tucker remains positive. “It’s still possible to do real estate transactions with a minimal amount
of risk of exposure [to the virus],” he says.
According to a study recently released by Zillow, transaction volumes fell 33%-72% in Hong
Kong during the SARS pandemic of 2003, but housing prices did not suffer significant decline.
While that may offer some insight into similar pandemic trends, it’s still too early to speculate
on precisely how Covid-19 will affect the Los Angeles housing market, which neighborhoods
might be most impacted, or whether prices will plummet under the stress.
For now, realtors and other industry professionals are staying alert and flexible – anticipating a
market impact, even if they can’t be certain of the scope. The coming months will offer more in
terms of traceable statistics and valuable insight from economists.
Jess Sanders, head of the applications department at Los Angeles rental agency Pacific
Listings, has actually experienced an influx of activity in recent days. She noted that none of
her company’s in-place deals have fallen through, and volume is holding steady.
“Virtual tours are in high demand, and some landlords are placing lock-boxes that tenants can
use at their own convenience,” she said. “We’re here to help, and we’re ready to adapt.”