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Coronavirus | Economy & Business | Real Estate

Nevada Interrupted: Realtor moves to Zoom meetings and virtual home sales during pandemic

Signs advertising new houses in Verdi, Nev. on Friday, March 6, 2020. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Many Nevadans are adjusting to the proliferation of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, stocking up on supplies and staying at home. The Nevada Independent is sharing their stories each day. 

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Since the pandemic hit, Chris Bishop, a real estate agent who has been working in Southern Nevada for the last 15 years, has shifted in-person meetings and house tours to online Zoom video calls, virtual home visits and internet sales.

"Usually [a sale] would require that we're at a property in person," said Bishop, who also is the president of the Nevada Association of REALTORS. "Now, we've had properties that we've literally listed through a Zoom meeting, that we've had someone go out and take photos of, that we've actually processed through and actually have sold during this whole pandemic."

Even though the Zoom meetings have been going well and real estate agents are adjusting to conducting business virtually, Bishop said that he thinks the online-heavy approach is just temporary.

"I miss that feeling of being together, and I think that's kind of the same thing in our business," Bishop said. "We're a very people-based business."

However, he said that because real estate agents now are getting a better command of technology, they might incorporate more of it into their work once the pandemic ends.

Bishop said the market was "hot" before the coronavirus hit, and even in March, sales were going well. However, since the beginning of April, some of his clients have been canceling transactions because of uncertainty.

"Interest rates are still the lowest they've been, even right now during the virus pandemic. Property prices, while they've gone up since eight years ago, they're right in line with where they should've been," Bishop said. "All the signs point to it's still a good time [to purchase property]. The only thing that's changed is now we have people ... that have been furloughed, and their job says, 'we'll take you back as soon as this is lifted,' but we don't know when that's going to be."

Bishop noted that regardless of what the market looks like, people are always purchasing property. He said he is less worried about home sales than he is about what happens to Nevada's long-term job market.

"I think that my fear would be that this goes on too long and jobs dry up. Companies that could not sustain the shutdown that can't come back," he said. "That's why I think it's important that we all look out [for one another], supporting local businesses that are fostered here in Nevada, supporting our neighbors that are in different industries, and trying to keep things going."

He added that he is excited about the stimulus package, which provides $1,200 for adults and $500 for each dependent, and hopes that people put that money back into Nevada's economy by using it for their rent or bills rather than saving it.

Regardless of what happens in the coming months, however, Bishop said he is doing everything to keep real estate sales going.

"People right now that are out of work and have no job and have no income — the one thing that many people have is equity in their home," he said. "And so we want to make sure that the property sales still continue so that those people that need to get that equity out to survive can."

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