The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slowdown in homes listed and sold in Central Missouri, but is expected to have little lasting impact on the local real estate market.

The number of homes sold in April is down 35 units from April of last year, 118 vs. 153. But Average Sale price remains higher, 172,033 vs. $166,900. Cumulative Days of the Market is slightly higher, 76 vs. 71.

“There’s been a slowdown, but there’s still plenty of activity,” said Nancy Gratz, president of the Jefferson City Board of Realtors and a broker associate at Gratz Real Estate and Auctioneering in Jefferson City. “There continues to be an abundance of buyers looking to purchase right now. And in our experience, we haven’t seen a large amount of buyers holding off because of the uncertainty.”

 Gratz said the slowdown in listings is bolstering the local “seller’s market” and boosting sales prices.

“Prices rise due to lack of inventory,” Gratz said. “Bidding wars are extremely common when a house goes on the market at this time. When you have this kind of lack of inventory, you see prices actually rising.”

Gratz said the slowdown in listings is likely due to sellers’ concerns about the economy and unemployment.  Also, some have expressed concern about having people in their homes at this time, she said.

“A few sellers did pull their homes off the market,” she said. “They didn’t have to sell right now, so they though it better for them.”

Local home owners are also following a national trend of using the stay-at-home time to remodel and make improvements to their homes.

“Lowes, Menards, the local lumber companies, have been extremely busy with people remodeling and doing work on their homes, building new equity into home they already have,” Gratz said. “They are going to be a little less likely to want to sell after putting in all that work.”

The current low interest rates work both ways. On one hand, the low rates save money for buyers. But on the other hand, many homeowners have refinanced and are in no hurry to leave their locked-in historic-low rates.

Unlike some areas of the country, Gratz said local lenders have not changed policies making credit more difficult.

“I think we’re very fortunate in central Missouri to have great lending institutions and we have not seen any changes in lending requirements due to the virus,” she said. “I have not seen any tightening up.”

Gratz believes there will be no change to the fundamentals driving the local “seller’s market.”

“Low interest rates, rising building costs, high land prices and limited development will cause inventory to remain low and home values to continue to increase,” she said.

Gratz plugged the value for home owners to using a Realtor in these uncertain times.

“Especially with these kinds of uncertainty, with bidding wars, I would highlight the value of a Realtor,” she said. “Sellers need someone to take the right steps to get the right outcomes. That’s what a Realtor is for, to help through every step of the process.”