August is typically a huge vacation month in Houston as temperatures soar and residents leave the city for a final break before the start of school, but these are not normal times. People are still reluctant to fly or travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, so most are not venturing far from home these days.
My annual trek to Montana for a break in the mountains is being replaced by a last harrah in Galveston next weekend, just like many others seem to be doing these days. How has this affected our housing market? Typically, home sales slow in the month of August for the reasons stated above, but today, the home is the center of everything we do, so instead of spending money on travel, the need for a housing upgrade seems to still be driving home sales at a fast pace.
The housing frenzy of June and July has slowed a bit, but the suburbs are still hot as people search for more space both indoors and outdoors where they can cocoon for the next year until this pandemic is under control. Buyers are looking for outdoor space, especially a home with a pool, and larger homes with home offices and game rooms if they have children. The trend to downsize to smaller spaces in the city where commutes are shorter has taken a 180 degree turn as more people are working from home and home schooling kids so they require more space and are no longer worried about a commute.
This is also an election year, so it will be an interesting fall. Home sales typically slow during an election year, but this is not a typical year. Mortgage rates are also at historical lows, making that larger home more affordable than ever, so it is the ideal time to buy a house and prepare for a slow return to “normal”.
There are so many factors looming in the horizon that could affect the housing market, including low oil prices. Houston’s economy relies heavily on the oil industry and almost every oil company is announcing major layoffs this fall. We cannot predict the outcome of 2020, but we should be prepared for a bumpy ride!
Written by Sherry Campbell