CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As an essential business in Nueces County, realtors have faced an uphill battle in trying to help people find homes in the Coastal Bend during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an industry dependent on face-to-face interaction, Jason Atwater with Weichert Realtors said it took some getting used to.
“Beforehand, we wouldn’t even consider doing a Zoom call to sit down and meet someone,” Atwater said. “Now, it’s common.”
Although there isn’t a universal guidebook of COVID-19 rules for realtors, Atwater said every company has their own set of guidelines that are all very similar.
And despite the ongoing pandemic, he said interest from prospective homeowners has only grown.
“We’re actually showing more houses,” Atwater said. “The difference is — you’re wearing a mask — you’re wiping things down when you go in and out afterwards.”
Atwater said it’s important to him that he continues doing his job.
“It doesn’t matter if we have a COVID outbreak or any other virus outbreak — people need homes. If you don’t have a home, what do you want them to do? Live in their car? That’s not going to happen,” Atwater said. “People need a home, and they need a professional to help them out.”
Although it takes more effort and can be tedious at times disinfecting every touched surface while showing someone a house, Atwater said he wants to make sure everyone he sees feels safe.
“Some of them might be extremely apprehensive — you don’t know their situation,” Atwater said. “It could be as simple as, they could be compromised or they could have somebody in the family that’s compromised, so you always want to make sure that they feel safe and that your first concern is their concerns.”
We asked Atwater if he feels like he’s putting himself at risk everyday.
“I know that we are putting ourself out there, but the people need it, and that’s why we’re doing this.” He said. “The only reason I do this is to help people. If you go out there with that attitude, it doesn’t matter where you’re at or what you’re doing, if you’re out there to help people and their families, it’s the best thing for them.”
According to a Nov. 17 report by The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, home ownership rates within the state are at an all-time high of 70 percent.
A quarterly housing report by the Center and the Texas Association of Realtors displays that Corpus Christi has experienced a decrease in active listings by 36 percent while closed sales have increased by 23 percent.