CDM Corner: The New Normal

By Racquel Reddie, Managing Director for Community Development

The reality of COVID-19 has hit us squarely in the gut as individuals, businesses, local/federal governments as well as the real estate industry.  It’s a public health crisis that has had an unprecedented and direct impact on the housing industry and all related services. 

For NCST, the most immediate effect of the foreclosure moratorium on our work was to slow down REO inventory, but we also saw the effects COVID was having on our program partners and the communities they serve.  As state governors mandated shelter in place orders, work came to a screeching halt. City permit and recording offices were closed, title companies delayed closings, banks and other capital providers pulled back credit, contractors were limited in their ability to start or finish rehabs, supplies were limited and potential homebuyers had to push the pause button.

One NCST Buyer shared, “At the onset of the pandemic, Renew Indianapolis was actively engaged in rehabbing properties and would have an acceptable offer within hours.  As the pandemic heightened, internally we took a close look on what was going on and even asked the question, should we take a pause.” 

They ultimately decided to continue to acquire, but were more particular about what they purchased. The unknowns of this pandemic made it hard for our buyer partners to understand what to do next. Many of them, like Renew Indianapolis, were anxious about the pipeline of properties they had and especially those properties that were being scheduled for rehab. When would they be ready?  How would potential homebuyers get to view properties and how would they get mortgage financing during a pandemic?

Nearly five months since state lockdowns and re-openings, COVID has fundamentally shifted the way real estate is transacted. From virtual walkthroughs to remote closings and heightened mortgage credit reviews, the path forward will speed the industry’s move into new and enhanced technologies, new laws and new ways of doing business. 

For some developers, they have found success in this new norm. NCST Buyer Partner RPS Solutions has shared that while the demand for quality affordable housing has always been strong, they are seeing more of their properties go under contract with just a virtual tour. According to Kevin Seawright, Managing Partner of RPS Solutions, “Buyers and agents alike appreciate the ability to safely preview properties by way of virtual tours prior to scheduling in-person visits. While the pandemic has presented several challenges, it has also intensified consumers’ need for appropriate, price stable, affordable housing. Our last three properties have gone under contract in less than one week. We believe the technology has played a big role in making safe and informed sales possible.”

As we wait to see what happens over the next few months, I’m reminded of the famous quote from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus that says “Change is the only constant in life.” This quote rings true now more than ever and reminds us of the work we have ahead of us to bring quality, affordable and equitable housing solutions to all during this tremendous time of change.

RPS Solutions, Under Contract in 3 Days (Virtual Tour)