How COVID-19 has changed the housing market, possibly forever

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Justin and Sarah Mull know first-hand how crazy the real estate market has become in Central Indiana. It was a profitable lesson to learn.

“It may not seem like a lot, but for us it’s kind of like hitting the lottery to a certain degree, it’s luck of the draw, we did nothing to deserve it,” said Sarah.

The couple are preparing to close on their new home in Westfield. It’s a home they never could have purchased unless they sold their old house just a few miles away in just days.  They fielded 36 competing offers, some of them sight unseen.

“We did get one offer; we actually got a couple that we’re sight unseen.  I was like are you sure?  Are you sure about that?” said Sarah.

Realtors say COVID-19 has created an unprecedented real estate market in Indiana. It’s a market where a shortage of housing supply and a burgeoning demand has sent home prices skyrocketing as buyers compete for whatever’s on the market.

“One of my most recent listings had 18 offers on the one house, another one had 10. Someone in my office had a little ranch house they were showing had 39 offers on one house,” said Dan O’Brien of Trueblood Real Estate in Fishers.

Analysts say COVID lockdowns prevented many prospective sellers from listing their homes last year.  It reduced an already tight market inventory tremendously.  The latest report from the MIBOR Realtor Association shows less than two thousand homes on the market in all of Central Indiana.  That’s a 57 percent decrease from this time last year before the pandemic.  Interest rates are also near historic lows, which means more buyers can afford to purchase a home if they can find one.

“To have the offers flood in the way they have to get a really quality offer on our house is just something we didn’t expect, ” said Justin.

It’s not just Hoosiers competing to buy houses in Indiana.  Because of the pandemic, workers from expensive real estate markets across the country don’t have to go to the office anymore.  Many are trying to buy more affordable homes in the Hoosier State.

Because of the pandemic, workers from expensive real estate markets around the country don’t have to go into the office anymore.

“Why stay in San Francisco when they can move to Indianapolis and get same house for a quarter of the price if not cheaper,” said O’Brien.

The competition is so fierce, some buyers are waiving requirements like inspections or even appraisals.  Tools designed to protect them.

No one knows how long this seller’s market will last, but interest rates are expected to stay low all year.

Justin and Sarah Mull just know they’re lucky they sold their home at a very good time.

 “Definitely understand that the next time around it may not be this easy,” said Sarah, laughing.

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