UNDATED -- Homes sales were going strong in Minnesota prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota Realtors CEO Chris Galler says here in the St. Cloud area for the month of March new listings were up over 19 percent, closed sales were up over six percent, and the median sales price was up nearly three percent compared to March of 2019.

However, Galler says the industry has changed a great deal since March 16th. He says real estate is considered an essential service, but they've stopped doing open houses and are doing more virtual showings.

But we're much more dependent on virtual activities, seeing homes ahead of time online and getting a feel for what the property is so that we're not just walking through properties and viewing them and potentially spreading the virus.

Galler says homes sales so far in April are still at a good pace, but home showings are falling off. He says that's likely due to the virtual showings.

He says he is anticipating pending transactions will fall off by the end of this month, which will then have closed sales fall off by the end of June.

Galler says most realtors are either self-employed or independent contractors and can access federal unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.

Because of the money that's coming from the federal government, the rebates that should start landing in a lot of people's bank accounts this week, the paycheck protection program, and other programs that are out there to try and make sure that there's dollars flowing to individuals through this historic pandemic.

Galler says he isn't anticipating the housing market during this pandemic to be as bad as the housing crisis during the Great Recession.

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