Homebuilders Are Seeing More Sales As Pandemic Lockdown Eases

Homebuilders Are Seeing More Sales As Pandemic Lockdown Eases

Shelter in place and shop for a home don’t go together. After suffering big declines in buyer traffic early in the pandemic, North Texas homebuilders say they are seeing more sales as Texas reopens.

“We sold 49 homes over Mother’s Day weekend, so it is pretty busy,” said Don Dykstra, chairman of Southlake-based Bloomfield Homes. “We are seeing lots of different buyer profiles: relocations to Dallas looking for or with jobs, young people fleeing apartments, some parents and grandparents helping young people buy their first home.” Dykstra said some buyers his firm is seeing seem to prefer new rather than preowned houses. “A fresh, new, never-lived-in home seems to have appeal right now,” he said. “Neighborhoods with outdoor amenities like trail systems have been popular.”

Like most builders, he’s lost some previously contracted sales because of the pandemic. “We are seeing higher cancellations due to job losses, but we refund earnest money and expect many to buy a home at some point in future,” Dykstra said.

After strong sales in January and March, Dallas-Fort Worth builders saw business vanish in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the homebuilder perspective, sales began slowing in mid-March and hit their low point around Easter,” said Ted Wilson, principal with Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies. “Since Abbott announced the reopening of business in Texas, builders have reported much improved sales, many getting back close to original weekly sales plans.”

DuWayne Carrera, a sales manager for Highland Homes, said he sold eight houses in Celina’s Light Farm community in April — double his typical monthly average — by using virtual home touring and sales. He uses Zoom and FaceTime to show properties to prospective buyers. “People are not necessarily coming to the models but looking online,” Carrera said. “We had two buyers last month that were from out of state. We sold them virtually with the new Zoom systems.”

Carrera said the company’s model houses are shown to individual buyers by request and privately. “We are sanitizing our models and inventory homes,” he said. “Over the last week I’ve scheduled a few more appointments than I have over the last month. People are getting more comfortable.” 

That’s not to say all homebuilders are felling upbeat. Builders who were surveyed nationwide last month about the prospects for new single-family houses showed a historic decline in confidence. The drop in builder confidence was the steepest ever and the lowest level of builder confidence since June 2012, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders.

D-FW has the country’s top homebuilding market with more than 35,000 starts last year.

Earlier in the year, the housing industry was expecting a surge in sales and building.

“We cranking pretty well, and we thought it was going to be a great year for housing,” said Dean Mon, a New Jersey-based builder who is chairman of the national builders’ group. “What happened with the pandemic is something we have never faced before. It’s impossible to forecast very far out...

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