Shut the front door: Open houses are on hold. In Seattle, ground zero for the U.S. coronavirus outbreaks, home sellers are turning to virtual showings to sell their houses, according to Realtor.com. Or, if they do have an open house, it is a more solemn affair full of disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and potential buyers walking as if they have an invisible barrier around them. Though the housing market remains stable among the outbreak, cities impacted by the virus are seeing a dip in demand—even as interest rates are lower than ever.
In the not so distant past, Seattle open houses were packed with home buyers eagerly poking their heads in closets, perusing spec sheets, munching on snacks, and offering bids above asking price in this ultracompetitive market.
Then on Jan. 20, a Washington state resident became the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the U.S.—and slowly but surely, everything changed.
According to Seattle-based real estate agents, open houses are now significantly more guarded affairs, and some have been canceled outright. Attendance of the open houses that are still taking place has been noticeably lighter than it has been traditionally, and attendees seem to be less interactive—most are doing their best to keep their distance from one another, and don't dare crack open a closet or touch a countertop without clenching an antiseptic wipe.