The housing market in Cooke County has been a mixed bag since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the Texas economy in late March.
Real estate brokers in Gainesville have seen both sides of the market from increased buyers and sellers to a drop in overall business the past several months.
Julie Mendoza from ReMax First Realty said her business has slowed significantly, especially during the summer months which are usually a busy time of the year.
“Other agents are busy and it’s not the same for all of us,” Mendoza said. “It’s just by chance that I’m not as busy. I’m used to be busy. It’s usually the busiest time of the year because people are moving and school is out. In the past two years in June and July where I would have 10 closings, it dropped to four this year.”
Mendoza, who has been a real estate agent for the past 14 years, said it’s a seller’s market right now and that there are always multiple offers on houses.
“If the houses are priced right, there are multiple offers 80% of the time,” Mendoza said. “Besides COVID-19, the interest rates are very good. We haven’t seen them this low in a long time. Some people aren’t being affected so it’s working for them. The few that are on the market are selling fast because there are so many buyers. It depends on your point of view. It’s confusing, but there are always buyers available.”
According to the May market update from North Texas Real Estate Information Systems, the average sales price is up 13.2% from $230,588 in May 2019 to $260,922 in May 2020.
The days on market until sale are also down from 74 in May 2019 to just 62 days.
However, there is a drop in listings from 71 to 58 in May.
Overall, year to date in May 2019 to 2020, there is a 25.5% increase in closed sales from 157 to 197.
Mendoza said the overall square footage price is also up from last year.
“Last year it was about $100 per square foot, but I’ve seen new houses go up to about $135,” Mendoza said. “The demand is so much higher. There are still buyers out there wanting to buy and pay that price.”
Missy Laughlin from Premier Real Estate has been in real estate for the past seven years and she said business has been great lately.
“I haven’t really even been affected and the other Realtors haven’t either,” Laughlin said. “It was slow when things were shut down, but now that everything is back up again, it’s fine. Now that WinStar is back up, things are back up. It’s just fine. It really is. I’m sure everyone has a different experience. I’m not having any issues.”
Laughlin said she is on a listing streak and doesn’t need to do open houses for many reasons.
“As far as open houses, me personally, unless the home is vacant, I don’t do open houses anymore, especially with technology,” Laughlin said. “Most of the people I know don’t even do open houses. If somebody is really looking to purchase a home, they’ll have a realtor and lender ready. If you’re living there, you can’t look after everyone and you can’t tell if they’re pre-approved.”
Laughlin said the coronavirus pandemic has produced mixed results as far as concern and showings.
“I’m not really there to tell them how to feel, I just want to listen to them,” Laughlin said. “Most people I’ve dealt with are comfortable with it and aren’t really worried. I did have one client that didn’t want anyone from Dallas to see their property, but it’s not a big issue with any of my clients.”
When businesses were shut down, Mendoza said she wasn’t doing any showings for personal reasons.
“I wasn’t going about to show because of the COVID-19,” Mendoza said. “Some people didn’t care, but I wasn’t going to do the showings. I didn’t want to bring something to my family. That was my main concern. If I lived alone, I think I would have gone to show. I had one client object to people going in their house because they didn’t’ know if they had COVID-19 or not. I had a seller that had COVID-19 and I refused to even show it.”
Mendoza said she hopes there isn’t another shutdown.
“I’m hoping that we get over this because I hope we don’t shut down again and it’s going to take longer to get past this,” Mendoza said. “Financially, just like everybody else, it’s going to hurt me. There are no showings and no going out. I’m hoping we don’t shut down but it’s looking like we are.”
Katie Moore-Harris, business office manager at Heritage Housing for the last two and a half years, said they have seen an uptick in business.
“Honestly, over the past couple of months, we’ve been putting a lot of homes out, despite everything that is going on with COVID-19,” Moore-Harris said. “Even with everything that is going on with the oil field and a lot of our customers are in that field, we’re doing pretty good. Other than social distancing and masks which makes it hard to talk to people, that’s the only thing we’re dealing with.”
Heritage Housing builds and sells new homes from trailers to tiny homes and Moore-Harris said they were putting out two houses per month before the pandemic and now are putting out four or five per month.
“A lot of times people will get their income tax and would put a down payment and this year, we have a new manager Jerry Simpson, who is doing good and trying to get people into some homes,” Moore-Harris said.
The influx of tiny homes being bought is also budding, according to Moore-Harris.
“We have had customers order three tiny homes and they should go out at the end of the month,” Moore-Harris said. “The tiny homes, people will put them on lakes or take them to RV parks. They are affordable. You can get a one-bedroom home for less than $30,000 and less than $450 per month.”