Coronavirus pandemic could upend LA’s incredibly tight housing market

Open houses are impossible, but agents are getting creative

UCLA’s David Shulman (Credit: UCLA and iStock)
UCLA’s David Shulman (Credit: UCLA and iStock)

As recently as even a month ago, it seemed nothing could keep Los Angeles’ housing market from tightening even further. But it’s been a long few weeks.

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and government measures put in place to stop the virus’ spread have completely changed the game. Experts aren’t optimistic, according to Curbed.

“It will not be a pretty picture over the next few months,” wrote UCLA Senior Economist David Shulman in a recently published economic analysis.

“Housing activity is being pressured by the weak economic environment and the unwillingness of consumers to visit new developments,” Shulman said. “Further, it is likely that realtors will call off open houses. If that is not enough, deal making will slow down because of the reduction in face-to-face contacts.”

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But there are still homes to be sold, so agents will have to get creative. Some could turn to video tours and 3D technology, which could be the closest things to a real open house as is feasible.

Agents Heather Roy and Learka Bosnak showed off a home in Hollywood on Instagram and Facebook Live over last weekend, but Roy said they’d have no choice but to postpone any showings if the city ordered residents to stay home.

If there’s any silver lining for L.A.’s housing market, it’s that interest rates are as low as ever. The 30-year mortgage rate fell to a 50-year low earlier this month and refinancings soared.

L.A.’s market was among the tightest in the country before the pandemic started to hit the economy — nearly every month there was a new median price record. The market was so tight that the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation projected that the regional economy would slow significantly because people would be forced to leave for more affordable areas. [Curbed] Dennis Lynch