The Interactive Experience of Real Estate

Matt Morgan, managing broker at Crye-Leike Realtors, explains how COVID-19 has affected Collierville, TN’s housing market. Is now still an opportune time to purchase your dream home? With video- and tele-conferecing capabilities, electronic signatures, and more, Crye-Leike was one company that was well-suited and able to quickly adapt to today’s new normal. All this and more is discussed on this episode of the Main and Mulberry Podcast.

See transcript below.

Anna Bell: Hello everyone. I’m Anna Bell and today, I’m thankful to have local Crye-Leike Collierville real estate managing broker Matt Morgan on the phone with us today to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Collierville housing market and if now is still an opportune time to purchase your dream home. Matt, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.

Matt Morgan:  Anna, it is absolutely my pleasure. Thank you for having this outlet and thanks for all that you and the whole team at Tour Collierville are doing through all this pandemic and letting people know what businesses are open. You guys are creating some great value for our community. So thank you.

AB: I appreciate that so much, Matt. Thank you. I want to know about you. How have you been holding up, you know, what did these last few weeks look like at home and at work for you? 

MM: No, we’re good. You and I had a moment to chat briefly before we started the interview and I know everyone is getting a little restless at this point. We’re getting cabin fever. I’m obviously looking at the numbers, we can clearly see that this social or physical distancing has helped. I mean, we in the Collierville area and the Memphis Metro, I have not seen the numbers like folks on the East and the West coast have. So I’m very thankful that folks have taken those precautions. But I know people are ready to get back to business. So we’ve just got to do this in a really safe and careful manner. Not to let all of this time in the last a month or so be in vain. So, I’m good. I’m holding in there, you know, we see a lot of negativity through the news and through social media.

MM: So I think distance from social media is just important than social distance from another person right now. So I guess that is my biggest tidbit. There’s a lot of positivity out there. I don’t know if you’ve seen Dana Whitworth. She’s also a Crye-Leike agent. She created a Facebook group called “Carnival Curbside.”  And this is a group that’s dedicated to the restaurants in town. And what she started last night was, we hope not the first annual, but the first Carnival Curbside night-in and folks can take a picture of their food that they got from a restaurant in town and post it on Facebook. And it looks like the local restaurants had a great reception to this. And so I think what I’m seeing in all this is yeah, we’ve had a lot of darkness, but we’re also seeing a lot of positive and you know, a lot of heart coming out of folks through all of this pain.

AB: I love seeing how, you know, people in Collierville are really coming together even at a distance. You know, we are all getting so creative right now and you know, the power of positivity, right Matt? It is shining through regardless of what, so that’s good.

MM: It’s all about positivity. You have to stay in that positive mindset mindset.

AB: So true. This is typically one of the best times of the year to be searching or, or putting your house on the market. But this year is a little bit different. Matt, how has the coronavirus pandemic affected the local housing market? 

MM: Well, I’ll tell you, I don’t really have a true glimpse of how it has affected us here in Collierville yet. Obviously we didn’t, you know, start these “Stay At Home” orders until mid-March. I think the first ticker for us was Friday, March the 13th, the Memphis Area Association of Realtors closed its door before the Memphis mayor and the municipal mayors and Mayor Joyner started their “Stay At Home” order. So that was kind of the first belt hole for us was when the area association closed its doors and went virtual. But I’ll tell you, our office, the Crye-Leike Collierville office for the month of March 2020 was up over a hundred percent from the previous year. Now I realize that that data from March of this year is anxious. It’s a dinosaur, and it’s going to be completely different as we move forward.

MM: This is a new world, but I’ll tell you, we were really in a great place. And that’s what, that’s the wonderful conversation I’ve had with so many folks is, this is a medical crisis and it’s put a tremendous amount of hurt and pain on many other sectors of our economy, on restaurant and retail, and so many, so many people unfortunately, have lost their jobs. And so we’re seeing so much pain, but, but we’re not in a housing crisis at this point. You know, this is a medical crisis. It’s not in any way going to look like the great recession of ’07 and ’08. We have just as little inventory now coming out of this crisis as we did getting into it. And if you’ll remember from ’07, ’08, we had a tremendous amount of inventory and that’s what caused our market crash.

MM: So yeah, our office, like I said, I know we’re not going to see a hundred plus growth for the month of April, but I don’t anticipate to see us in the negative. Honestly I still see contracts come across my desk every day. Listings come across my desk every day and I think we were positioned really well coming into this to handle a no-contact environment. We’ve always done virtual console where we do a video or a phone call to talk with buyers or sellers on their needs of a pre-listing or buyer consultation. We were able to email out home favorites through the multiple listing service. You could set up someone’s email, their search criteria, they get automatic emails as soon as something within their criteria hits the market. Uh, we’ve been doing virtual property tours using different digital slideshow mediums or Matterport videos. We had already embraced electronic signatures for just about everything you could do except for the physical closing. So that is the listing agreement, the purchase and sale agreement. Any amendments in the real estate business, we work in paperwork, so we have lots of paperwork that needs a signature. So we were already equipped to send that digitally. So, I think we were in a good place to combat this as soon as it hit. Now, we’re taking precautions obviously.

MM: Sellers do no-contact showings where you turn on all the lights and leave the doors open. So all the showing agents have to do it. Put the key in the door and open it, don’t touch anything and then lock the door when you leave. So we’re definitely taking precautions and being safe, but, it’s business as unusual as it can be right now.

AB: Yeah. I mean that’s one thing I’ve really wanted to know about how Crye-Leike are having their open houses and what those open houses look like. And because that is one thing, buying and selling a home is a very interactive, personal experience, you know, and I can’t imagine going in this time and not being able to give my real estate agent a hug and being able to flip on, I really did want to know what that looks like.

MM: It’s been hard. You know, I want to get a handshake or give a hug and I’ve got that muscle memory of I go for it and then I have to pull back and remember social distancing. Remind me the question again. I’m sorry.

AB: No, no, you’re totally fine. So I’m basically asking is what that looks like. The open house, you know, if you can kind of walk us through what an open house at this point in time, what it looks like. Is it totally virtual or is it something that we can still go in the home, like you were saying?

MM: Corporate has taken the stance that we really want to respect the guidelines of the CDC obviously and we want to be in conjunction with our local leadership with Mayor Joyner here in Collierville, Mayor Strickland, Mayor Harris and all the municipal mayors have asked us to place these “Safer At Home” order. I’m into action and we are not yet out of our “Safer At Home” order. We’ve started this back to business plan, but as I know you’re well aware of, we’re not even yet to phase one of this. So we still need to have any kind of gatherings with less than 10 people. So what we’ve done is we’ve canceled open houses. We’re not doing any physical open house, but we’ve instilled virtual open houses. So you can go to Facebook and just search Crye-Leike, and you can find our corporate Facebook page and you’ll see there that we’ve got a dedicated Facebook page just for virtual open houses.

AB: Yes, Matt, these virtual open houses are so cool. I really want you to kind of tell us, I’ve seen a couple and I’m telling you what, these are not the old little scans of the past. These are really cool.

MM: Yes. Now you’ve got all kinds of differences out here in this virtual age of what people are doing. So yeah, you could have someone taking their cell phone, just walking through a property or using what we call an instrument called a gimbal, which reduces any kind of shake or tilt. So they can take the gimbal through the house. Like it’s a joystick with the camera on it and shows you, room by room. You’ve got really high tech things. Like I mentioned the Matterport tool earlier, which there are several folks in our area that take these Matterport shots. What they do is they set it up in the house and it makes a dollhouse of this property where you, at your computer, can click from room to room and enter the room digitally just like you’re there in person. So it’s really cool advances that, thank goodness we had all these in place that we can really embrace them now and get it so much more traffic, putting it online. And I don’t know if you read any real estate news, but online traffic for real estate was down in March. You know, people were concerned. All of the news was pretty abysmal and so folks just weren’t looking at real estate. Well for the month of April, we are already up 15% for online traffic. So that’s an awesome sign of the virtual open houses are where games, we’ve got listings hitting the market every day still. And people are looking.

AB: Yeah, that’s so awesome. I know one thing, just in casual conversations with others, you know, I’m interested in knowing your perspective on how you see the housing market, in terms of home values being affected? 

MM: I don’t see a ton of effects. On the value of property in our area, and I’ll again take that to the fact that this is not 2007 2008 we still have the same huge pool of buyers that really love Collierville. I love the schools here, love the community. I love the Memphis Metro area and we still have the same small number of inventory for this large pool of buyers, so I don’t anticipate any decrease in value. Our showings have slowed down, but those buyers that are actively pursuing property I feel are energized. And I heard from so many of my agents that the buyers that are actively looking for property, it’s like a kickstart because they feel like they don’t have as much competition as they did in these last few months or the last season, the spring season, and folks are moving quicker.

AB: Okay. So what advice might you have for people considering whether or not now is a good time to put their house on the market? Maybe a few key piece of advice you might could share with us? 

MM: Well, I don’t think that now’s the time to wait. I’ve had several calls from my personal clients and I’ve talked with several of my agents in the last week or so about now, I’ve got a buyer and they’re concerned about listing right now. What are your thoughts on that? And I am a proponent of, you know, safety first on this. We may not be able to have an open house to attract a large pool of buyers. But then, like I said, the buyers are still there, so I don’t think this is the time to wait. I think it’ll really help us once we are out of this “Safer At Home” order and people feel more comfortable getting out and about. But with all of the advances in technology, we’re getting just as much traction through, through internet, leads of people taking a look at property, loving it, and then wanting to move forward. We’ve had many agents that have sold virtual reality lately using FaceTime or Zooming through our property and have had great success.

AB: Hmm. Okay. So you’re telling us, don’t wait, don’t hesitate. Reach out today.

MM: Don’t wait. People still are, are flocking here, this is such a special community. You feel it as soon as you come here, whether it’s walking the square at Christmastime or taking a stroll through Cox Park or ballpark, any of our green belt system, there’s something really special about the heart of Collierville. And even through all of this, I think people are longing for, for that heart and for that small town community still. And I definitely don’t think it’s the time to wait because we do have the buyers still looking to get their home here.

AB: I couldn’t agree more. I mean, ultimately, Matt, for those who are looking to make the move to Collierville, can they still find their dream home in the 38017.

MM: They absolutely can. There’s plenty of property out here available and we would love to be of service to anyone looking to move to Collierville and make this your home mailing address.

AB: Awesome. Matt, thank you so much for your time and your insight today. We certainly appreciate it.

MM: Thank you Anna. Have a wonderful day.

AB: Yeah, you too. For all who are listening, I would like to send well wishes from my home to yours. Until next time, I’m Anna Bell.

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