Real estates new reality in Colorado: virtual showings, fewer listings and an industry on the edge

Some realtors question state orders to stay away
Posted at 12:29 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 14:29:58-04

DENVER -- We are finding out the hard way that the only thing more taxing than rapid growth is no growth at all.

It's especially true in the real estate market. Showings are down 88.5% from this time last year, according to the South Metro Denver Realtor Association (SMDRA). But, that figure does not account for virtual showings.

Still, it's alarming. Realtors are experiencing a slow-down not seen in years.

"It's hard for people to make the biggest purchase of their life without seeing and smelling the property," said realtor Chris Grund with

Making the issue even more complicated in Colorado is a governor's order that prevents real estate agents from going into homes that are for sale.

Grund calls it a real threat.

"Putting the nail in the coffin of our industry right now," he said.

Essentially, if someone is selling their home, they must show it themselves.

"The seller will have to do that virtual tour themselves," said realtor Lori Abbey with The Abbey Collection of Compass Real Estate. "I can't go out there as an agent and do it for my clients."

Unless the seller has already moved, then Abbey says it gets even more complicated.

"So, I, as the listing agent, would then go out to this vacant home, using all of the proper precautions and do the virtual tour," Abbey said.

Last week, the state of Colorado fined a realtor with RE/MAX Colorado for asking the sellers to leave their home in order to do a virtual showing.

Adding insult to injury, Grund also believes it's unfair that builders are allowed to show new build construction in-person when realtors are prevented from doing the same.

"Part of all this mess is because we don't utilize common sense," Grund said. "Why can I have 20 workers working on a vacant home across the street, continue to work, but the very thing that funds all their jobs is me showing it, yet I can't go show one person under a controlled environment to sell that home?"

With so many gray areas and changes, the rules are maddening to some agents.

Others, like realtor Joy Dysart, a broker associate with Home Smart Realty Group, says it's worth the temporary headache.

"We stay home, save a life - and that's the way I feel about it," Dysart said. "I don't think it will have a huge impact on the industry. We want to encourage people to still list their houses."

And in fact, real estate listings are still strong in metro Denver.

According to Market Watch data, 919 new listings hit the market this past week. That's down slightly from last Spring, but about average for the winter months.

"We had one property with over 1,000 looks online," Dysart said.

It's an industry under constant scrutiny, leaving realtors to navigate the muddy waters.

"The essential status was fine for realtors, then taken away, then it was added back in a limited manner," Abbey said. "There's just so much uncertainty."

"We're selling a product that's not allowed to be sold," Grund said. "Would you buy a home for $600,000 without seeing it?"

The fail-safe is the inspections process. Even with new guidelines and rules, buyers are allowed to see the property in person during inspection – which allows them to give final approval of the deal or pull the plug.

"We can get more creative in ways to help people," Dysart said. "We're flattening the curve by staying home and doing business. And if we can just be patient, it will eventually get back to normal. I, for one, don't want to be that person that brings the virus into that seller's house."