The #coronavirus level-set, panic, and virtual tours

March 25, 2020 by Ted Bauer

What we know now

Dallas County has a shelter-in-place currently through April 3rd, that might last longer. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins had some specific events of the “permitted events,” including government services, some courts, garbage collection, DART, health care facilities, chiropractors, mental health centers, substance abuse centers and other health-related services. Ride-share services, such as Uber or Lyft, are also permitted. Moving is “allowed but generally discouraged,” which rolls up with what we’re hearing from clients -- most people are currently considering going month-to-month at their current residences. That seems to be the biggest chunk. Collin County and Tarrant County have similar restrictions, although these early April drop dates don’t mean that much per se -- in both major counties (Dallas/Tarrant), schools are ostensibly closed indefinitely, and schools are a big piece of the societal puzzle.

So when does this all end?

We don’t really know. President Trump has a “grand reopening” plan for Easter (April 12), but health experts generally agree that’s too soon. The broader concept of coronavirus may last into 2021 (gasp!), but the impact can be significantly blunted before then. Now, it’s important to remember this probably is not a health crisis for you -- you may experience a severe set of flu-like symptoms and effects, but even in China, 80% of the cases are mild. No one wants to see a high death toll, but for most people, the issues around this virus are (1) spread, (2) the economy, (3) disruption in daily life, and (4) health and health of loved ones, in some combination of that order. A true vaccine may take 18 months to reach the public, but we can contain/blunt it before then and hopefully return to “normalcy.” That all said, even with health concerns covered, we are either “in” or “headed towards” a recession.

OK, so is life just on hold?

Through Easter, probably so. And probably into May. It’s not “on hold” in that you have media and podcasts, and you can link up with very small groups in-person or bigger groups online. It’s different, but not on hold. And that’s an important point -- this is not a time for stasis. Should you undertake really big life stuff? Maybe not at this exact second. One of my friends from church is moving from DFW to eastern Oregon in the next week or so for work. That’s a little bit terrifying of a moment for sure, but her boyfriend is there and a new paying job that is not in hiring freeze currently is also there. At some point, you gotta get up and do things, even if it’s scary. 

A note about panic

You are seeing some panic and selfish behavior out in the world around toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc. I just tried to buy Reynolds Wrap at three different stores and nothing -- and the earliest Amazon shipment for 50 feet was like April 19th. So, there’s some B2C consumer household goods panic out there, sure. Why is that, exactly? The basic psychology is (a) fear of the unknown and (b) a belief that dramatic events require dramatic responses. So, in reality, your best individual approach to coronavirus might be social distancing and hand-washing, but your brain might tell you that the best approach is to smack someone over a 12-pack of toilet paper. It’s a confusing moment we live in. 

Should there be a panic about moving?

The logistics of moving? No. Most DFW apartment complexes have come up with approaches around this, including virtual apartment tours and drop-boxes for your new keys on a move. In fact, a couple of days/a week after we reported on virtual apartment tours, The Dallas Morning News did. Did we scoop them? Perhaps. So the logistics are there to move. Don’t panic about that.

Also don’t panic about supply. There’s close to 800,000 apartments in the Metroplex, generally operating at 90% occupancy, which means 10% are typically available. That’s about 80,000 free apartments right now -- and if you’re worried about people grabbing ‘em because of transfers or relocations, many companies are pausing those right now anyway. And there’s still a general fear about the moving process in the near-term moment.

So no, no panic on the housing/leasing front expect any panic and fear you insert into your own process of trying to do it. 

So what now?

Just do your best, find ways to connect, and watch the news (non-partisan if possible!) about what to do next in the broader societal sense. If you need anything, holler at us. We can help with moving or just do a Zoom/Skype so you have a friend.

About the Author

Ted Bauer

Ted Bauer is a writer/editor for White Rock Locators focused on as much cool content about the DFW Metroplex rental scene as he can possibly find week-to-week.