Having navigated successfully through the peaks and valleys of the housing market for 20-plus years, real estate agent Craig Strong has used experience, education and adaptability to help his clients get past the fear and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, Strong and his Toluca Lake–based business, The Craig Strong Group, had a very prosperous 2020, highlighted by the sale of Everybody Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton’s Forman Avenue home. “We were extremely busy in 2020, and right now, it seems like the pandemic and the other events around the country aren’t holding many people back from buying and selling,” Strong says.
But it wasn’t always smooth sailing this past year, he adds, especially in the first half of 2020, which saw home sales in Los Angeles County fall by 49.5% in May from a year earlier, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“There was a lot of fear last spring as everyone pulled back and the market fell out,” Strong says. “Then, once people were able to buy toilet paper again and get the food supplies they needed, it became, ‘I’m going to stay in my home and not leave.’ This led to a lot of people starting to consider getting a bigger property and becoming more interested in the value of their current home.”
With rules and regulations related to COVID-19 and the real estate market changing regularly, Strong says it’s become more important than ever to educate clients on the do’s and don’ts of buying and selling a home during the pandemic.
“There’s understandably a lot of paranoia right now, and people are wondering how they can view and sell a property during these times,” Strong says. “Even though only a limited number of people can view a property at one time due to no open house tours, sellers still don’t know the people coming into their home and are fearful of COVID. Emotions are much more heightened now, so it’s critical that we educate everyone on the safety and protocols in place to ensure transactions are done safely and effectively. If anyone has any questions, we highly encourage folks to reach out so we can help.” While Strong believes the housing market this year will continue to build off 2020’s solid finish, he says it’s also important for sellers to “remain realistic on pricing and don’t take it personally if buyers are overly cautious, because people are smart and want to buy at fair market value, while also ensuring their safety.” At the same time, he notes, “Buyers need to focus on value and really do their due diligence when it comes to inspecting the home before they purchase.”
As a resident of Toluca Lake for nearly two decades, Strong, who frequently dines in and around the Village with his family and has held positions with the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council and other local committees, believes that knowing the community he serves inside and out is a big part of what sets him apart. “With more people staying close to home, we’re not just selling a house anymore, we’re selling a community,” Strong says. “Having that familiarity and being a part of Toluca Lake for 20 years, I believe people have an even greater trust in what we’re telling them about the area and the home they are looking to buy.”