Real Estate in the Time of COVID-19

COVID-19 has been an unprecedented global event. It’s had a massive effect on the economy, and with that, comes a massive effect on real estate. Many changes have taken place, and even once things are ‘back to normal’ many of these changes may become the new normal.

It’s one thing to look at statistics, but I wanted to get some insight from my Trusted Agents across Canada to see what the experience has been like for them, how they’ve adjusted, and how they think real estate will change in the next few years.

Shannon Murree, Simcoe County, ON

“Though our year-to-date stats of how many homes are listed is down, we didn’t see a decline in housing prices and remained steady.  That said, the way we show homes has changed as physical open houses are not permitted. For our investor clients who lived out of the Province or Country, we had already implemented Facetime and virtual tours. However, as agents for residential buyers as well, we’ve stepped up our 360 and video tours so buyers can have as much transparency as possible.  Virtual tours and Zoom calls have made things very efficient. Buyers can do everything from the comfort of their home or office, and we can ensure the safety of everyone involved. I think the future of buying and selling real estate like this (virtually) is here to stay.”

Steve Bailey, Guelph|Kitchener|Waterloo| Cambridge, ON

“We were ready to hit the ground running right from the start – virtual tours were already standard operating procedure for us.  It was odd not being able to connect and engage with the public at open houses – but besides of a bit of a lag when the story started to unfold, we took great pride in being considered an essential business and assembled packs of gloves, hand sanitizer, masks and enacted low-touch protocols that we modelled after what we were seeing in the healthcare field.”

Jan Bombardier, Kamloops, BC

“Open houses almost seem like a thing of the past & I find that 3D tours work just as well if not better. Buyers are way more tech-savvy so they expect the video tours, and I personally don’t feel like we are doing justice to our sellers unless we now include them with all listings. They also help buyers eliminate the homes in which they may not be interested. Buyers are way more diligent in shortlisting properties and are then only going to view the ones that really appeal.”

Alex Nolis, Richmond Hill, ON

“In Richmond Hill, the real estate market has been moving along at a steady pace. In order to help potential buyers see the true potential of a property, I have been using virtual staging in my property photos. This form of staging helped my seller client present their home in a way that showed what it would look like furnished as opposed to vacant rooms. It was during a time when my clients weren’t comfortable having movers bring outside furniture into their home during lockdown. The future of buying & selling properties has changed for good. Video tours, 360 degree photos and Facebook live open houses are a must in today’s market.”

Justin Konikow, London, ON

“We saw an initial step back in the marketplace when COVID hit, more from a situational management perspective than anything else. Real estate is a pretty dynamic space. Agents, buyers, and sellers still being in a position to have to transact tend to find ways to adapt. We saw this initially in a few major ways, including virtual tours, 3D scanning of properties as well as videos and photos. Since then, the business has become even more streamlined. We purchased a Matterport system to 3D scan properties for our clients, and to provide exact measured floor plans and surface scans for contractors. We are noticing a ton of opportunity in our space and have implemented even more ways to create fewer barriers to people doing business and have actually seen growth.”

Despite the initial fear and hesitancy, buyers and sellers are still having plenty of success.

Sam Moussa, Ottawa, ON

“I had a client who was super panicked, and everyone around her was telling her to pull the home off the market and not to list it. I took it in my hands to try to sell it as quickly as possible and not wait (we had a week for showings and offers after that). I worked with a great realtor using Facetime, and listened to the realtor and his clients needs and sold it in 1.5 days for 70k more than asking.”

Another great example comes from Justin. “One success story was a client who got a killer deal on a lakefront cottage and pulled the trigger sight unseen. He got 40k off the price and the next week the market rebounded and he made a great return on his investment.” 

These may be unprecedented times, but people will always need to buy and sell homes. Ultimately, time will tell what changes will stick and what changes will fade away, but as Justin says, “the future of buying and selling homes will be an even better, more efficient process. This is forcing the industry to create a better way to serve consumers which is ultimately a good thing.”

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