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How COVID-19 could impact the metro Atlanta housing market

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Meanwhile, with the advent of spring, are house parties and home barbecues a good idea?

A white and blue bungalow with green grass in front and trees behind it. Ansley Atlanta Real Estate; photograph by Nick Hoisington

It’s becoming clearer that COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel coronavirus, has the potential to change nearly every facet of life for the foreseeable future, and Atlanta is no exception.

Atlanta’s tourism industry is expected to take a considerable hit in light of the spreading illness and related worries, as events expected to lure droves of visitors, like the NCAA basketball tournament, have been cancelled.

Additionally, as more people practice what’s called “social distancing”—a method of self-isolation and, especially, avoiding crowds—local businesses will feel the brunt of the outbreak, too.

That’s not to say that all could be in turmoil, economically speaking.

Despite mounting fears, housing demand is high, according to online real estate brokerage SimpleShowing.

“With the recent panic over the coronavirus, the FED did an emergency rate cut which put rates at their lowest level in the last 50 year span,” SimpleShowing reps write. “Currently, you can find 15-year loans at rates of 2.79 percent and 30-year loans around 3.29 percent.”

Plus, the March 11 report shows, mortgage applications are up 10 percent from last year, suggesting the real estate market could be shifting for the better. (That doesn’t take into account the situation’s escalation this week, however.)

As Curbed New York reported, with interest so rates low, some buyers could be inclined to withdraw funds from the struggling stock market and invest in real estate.

Additionally, Atlanta’s solid job market, coupled with low interest rates, could be a boon for the local real estate market, said Harry Norman realtor Erin Yabroudy in an interview with WSB-TV.

The sectors that have the most to worry about today are in travel, hospitality, and leisure, says a study by global real estate firm Avison Young.

“The hotels sector is particularly vulnerable to a decrease in tourism and measures to limit public gatherings at conferences and sporting events—many of which are now being cancelled or postponed,” the research says.

Atlanta’s massive convention industry is of course liable to feel the impact of COVID-19.

It feels like spring in Atlanta, but are house parties and home barbecues a good idea?

A longstanding, gut-reaction tradition in Atlanta when tough times present themselves is to basically start partying—not necessarily celebrating—as a means of distraction and entertainment.

Think of any snowstorm in the past decade. Especially the Snowpocalypse of 2014. Or the widespread blackouts following Hurricane Irma in 2017. Party central, one and all.

The local advent of COVID-19, however, is different. And it just so happens to be coinciding with spring-like temperatures that usually call for house parties and backyard gatherings, even when Atlantans have other things to do, like organized sports and travel for work.

But is getting together right now at home a wise thing to do? We checked with City of Atlanta officials for advice, as the first weird weekend under the threat of a novel coronavirus clampdown draws near.

“Our posture has been to follow guidance provided by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” says City of Atlanta spokesperson Michael Smith, “and when judgement calls need to be made, err on the side of safety for Atlanta families.”

Press officials with the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health, who are being inundated with requests at the moment, haven’t responded to inquiries, which is understandable.

The CDC does provide thorough recommendations for community gatherings large and small, and a key point is that older adults and those with chronic medical issues, such as heart, kidney, or lung disease, will probably want to click “No” on the evite.

When it comes to household cleaning and disinfection, the CDC also gives in-depth advice. Before a home gathering gets started, or during the event, this particular bit might be worth keeping in mind:

“Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.”

Otherwise, CDC recommendations call for keeping between six and 10 feet of distance between yourself and other people in public. That’s social distancing, and it’s not exactly conducive to house parties.

For a deeper dive on what social distancing actually means, and a variety of opinions on safety standards from experts, head to this recently published report in The Atlantic.

Their opinions on private get-togethers at homes vary, from advising against them to keeping distance from all other guests. A senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security shared the most lenient opinion with the magazine:

“I think small gatherings are probably okay as long as nobody has symptoms, respiratory symptoms. As soon as someone seems sick, you should probably not get together.”