CHEYENNE – Demand for housing has recently waned in many parts of the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but that trend has largely not been the case in Cheyenne.
Home sales nationwide could drop as much as 35% this spring, compared to the final quarter of 2019, according to a Capital Economic analysis. Yet for local Realtors, it’s largely been business as usual the past few weeks.
“There’s been a tidbit of a slowdown, but for the most part, we’re still moving houses, with people still listing houses and commercial property,” said Mistie Woods, president of the Cheyenne Board of Realtors.
Many remain interested in buying houses in the Cheyenne area. For example, Woods listed a property earlier this week that had already received several inquiries by Thursday.
“We actually have quite a few buyers right now,” Woods said. “Interest rates are low, so that’s helping encourage it.”
The housing market’s buoyancy in Cheyenne has partially been due to larger dynamics at play. Lodema Klimt, an associate broker for Coldwell Banker The Property Exchange, said the local housing supply has been scant for the past couple years.
“Supply and demand is still generating that seller’s market, because we have more buyers than we have houses for,” Klimt said. “(The virus) is really not affecting us that much.”
As of Thursday afternoon, 55 homes in Cheyenne had been newly listed for sale over the past week on Realtor.com.
For those seeking a home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still in-state options for them to obtain mortgages through the Wyoming Community Development Authority, which helps coordinates loans between banks and potential homeowners.
Statewide, there has been a slight slowdown in the number of people seeking new loans, according to WCDA deputy executive director Lesli Wright.
“Not in the Cheyenne market, though; it’s still a pretty hot market,” Wright said. “But in some places around the state, there’s just some uncertainty around jobs.”
Beyond the effects of COVID-19, downturns in Wyoming’s energy industries could also cast uncertainty over some towns’ housing markets.
“The longer the oil and gas commodities are depressed, we eventually may see that show up in a lower demand for home purchases,” Wright added.
Wright noted certain factors unique to Cheyenne – its location along two major interstates and its potential to draw people from Colorado’s Front Range – place the city in contrast with much of the state.
“There’s government, which is a more stable employer than in Casper, which has tons of oil and gas employers,” Wright said. “I think the Cheyenne economy is maybe a little bit more diversified than some other communities in Wyoming, so I think it would see fewer fluctuations in its housing market.”
For those who’ve already started paying their mortgages, there are routes for them to delay payments, if needed, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. If their mortgages are federally insured, Wright said homeowners may request forbearance, allowing them to delay mortgage payments for up to a year.
“We are encouraging homeowners to call their loan servicer and ask what kind of relief they have available to them,” Wright said.
WCDA also has ceased its reporting of delinquent loans that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead, Realtors were optimistic the housing market in Cheyenne will emerge fully intact from the historic pandemic.
“Even when the mortgage industry failed (in the late 2000s), Cheyenne still came out fine and strong,” Woods said.