Houston's housing market hot despite COVID-19 pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Nearly a year after Houston-area counties began issuing stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making homes comfortable for both work and play has never been more important and it's got plenty of residents looking for more room.

That means in Houston, the housing market is hot, but is 2021 a good time to buy or is it a sellers' market? You might've noticed more and more "For Sale" signs all across lawns in Houston neighborhoods and listings filling up real estate apps.

Though properties were abound, the 2020 year still brought a pandemic. This came right as Aaron Laake and his wife were ready to buy a home.

READ ALSO: Houston home sales shatter records in unprecedented year
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If you're in the market to buy a house, watch this video on how realtors are adapting to changing prices.



"All this hit and it kind of put everything on hold. It did kind of put everything on hold and it set us all back," he said.

Yes, early in the pandemic, the coronavirus closed all listings for in-person showings. Weeks later, when walk-throughs were permitted, Laake said it made showings tedious.

"They literally had signs ... walking up the driveway [that said] 'Put booties on your feet. Please wear gloves,' and they got booties and gloves. Be sure to wear your mask," explained Laake.

But did any of this slow the Houston housing market last year? Not at all.

The year 2020 saw 9% more in sales than 2019. The average amount of days a home stays on market even shortened from an average of 59 days to 46 days.

Richard Miranda, the director of the Houston Association of Realtors, said Houston is actually showing signs of a depleted market.

"We're down to 2.2 months," he explained. "I don't know what January or February is going to look like, but if that trend continues, we're going to end up with a real shortage of properties."

Meanwhile, 30-year low mortgage rates, which are between 2% and 3% for many, are driving the demand. Realtor Cristina Riol-Negron said the virus isn't stopping buyers. It's simply changing their needs.

"They have now decided that maybe they do want a pool or they want that open-concept ... that wasn't that important, but now they have more family living with them or they have more time to spend with the family or they need that extra office," she said.

Even with lockdowns and social distancing protocols in place, Riol-Negron said crafty realtors can still close even the most extreme deals.

"We never met with the buyer, we went to the houses ourselves, [recorded] the houses for him right during the pandemic, it was April [or] May, and he signed completely remotely, lender paperwork and everything," she said.

As Houston's housing market and the pandemic show no signs of slowing down at the moment, "quarantine comfort" was number one on the list of items a new home must have for Laake.

"We need to have a pool," he said. "We live in Texas."

Despite the pandemic, people like Laake made it happen.

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