Practically every industry has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Over the past couple of months we have highlighted many, from business to entertainment, and chatted with the men inside of them to get their account on how different things have been for them & their jobs since COVID began.
The Real Estate industry has had its shifts as well. People have been forgoing the in-person meeting for virtual tours and opting to not have open houses in fear of them being exposed COVID. But has it really been all bad for the realtors & brokers inside this multi-million dollar business?
I recently chatted with top Charleston realtor Justin Thomas during my trip to the southern state. Sure, he’s easy on the eyes (which only enhanced our chat) but he also has a great perspective on real estate in 2020 and many other aspects to what he does that relates to the LGBTQ community.
What has been the biggest peak and pit you’ve experienced as a realtor since COVID hit earlier this year?
The biggest peak has been the influx of people desiring to move to an area such as Charleston. They look at it as a safe space to come to compared to the bigger cities. The biggest pit has been not seeing as many people in person. They have chosen to use VoiceTime or view a video instead.
Do you think the industry is forever changed because of this pandemic or are you optimistic that things will eventually resume back to normal or a new normal sometime soon?
I do think that VoiceTime, video showings, online videos and virtual tours are going to remain popular. It is so easy to scan through videos and decide if a home is worth checking out in person or worth buying without even seeing it which is frequently happening. I feel like this is the new normal.
There’s been an upwards trend of gay men moving out of big cities like NYC and LA and finding comfort in smaller ones. Is that something you’ve seen in Charleston yourself?
I have. Charleston is viewed as a safer space. Several couples have moved here because they feel more comfortable raising their children in a place where kids can still walk or ride bikes to school.
Do you recommend men who have a decent or high HHI (Household Income) look into places like Charleston for a second or new home even during COVID?
I definitely do. Charleston is very popular for second home buyers – especially from the Northeast. I have worked with many people this summer in places such as Provincetown and winter in Charleston. Charleston does have some chilly days in the 40’s in the dead or winter but we still have clear blue skies and warm 70 degree days. Plus, while spring is springing here, it’s still cold in the Northeast.
Years ago the normal path was to retire to Florida. These days, people are opting to move to places such as Charleston. Those that take the usual path to Florida are more and more finding that Florida is not what it used to be, so they move to Charleston. They refer to themselves as “half-backs” as in the move half the way back to the Northeast.
What advice would you give to gay men who fear looking for homes in places that they deem not LGBTQ friendly?
I would suggest they give smaller places a chance and their own research. Metro areas are not the only places where you find concentrations of LGBTQ+ people. We are everywhere. I moved to Charleston by choice and had no idea how wonderful our community was until after I got here.
At that time (1999) clubs and bars were still the main places to meet people but nowadays we are everywhere. I have never felt uncomfortable in downtown Charleston. We are definitely an oasis compared to other parts of the state.
Anything else you want to add in the world of real estate that our viewers should know?
I am always happy to introduce people to Charleston. If you are curious about anything here, let me know and I will provide you any info you need. We have communities in most every price range, so don’t let that be the deciding factor to take a pass on Charleston.