With so many businesses and services having to adjust to the requirements of this situation, the real estate industry is no exception. While it might not seem like it to some, the process of moving homes is a necessity to many of those who are relocating jobs or have other circumstances that require a change.
The Ontario government has declared real estate agent services (along with land registry, moving and lawyer services) to be essential, and will be permitted to continue operations after March 24, 2020. Many businesses will be required to close in response to the Coronavirus pandemic response.
Many brokerage offices, including my own, have decided to close to the public, in order to safeguard everyone from unnecessary contact. In addition, we have adjusted our routines to safeguard our clients, those of other brokerages, and our own families.
Where possible, we are using technology to minimize face-to-face meetings with clients and the public. I do much of my work from my home office, and share information with my clients via email and phone calls when possible. Even showings can be done with a video call, though most buyers still want to see a property in person before making an offer.
With appropriate safeguards, this can be accomplished without compromising safety. We screen buyers to ensure they haven't travelled or experienced symptoms before allowing showings. Maintaining a safe distance from each other, avoiding handshakes and liberal use of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and discouraging touching of surfaces allows us to see a listing without risking the spread of infection.
When selling, we take similar precautions. Also, we are no longer conducting open houses and request that only buyers themselves are touring homes. The Ontario Real Estate Association is now calling for an end to open houses until the state of emergency has lifted in Ontario.
We provide hand sanitizer and request that it be used upon entry by all visitors, as well as signage that encourages social distancing and safe practices while inside the home. We also urge our clients to further sanitize surfaces following showings.
Most of you know by now that I write about market statistics on a regular basis. With the situation evolving on a daily basis, I find myself checking on market figures with the same frequency. The latest real estate market statistics are here.
The market has begun to slow in Durham Region, both in volume and price. Even so, sales volume is up substantially over both last month and last year for the first half of March.
Prices are still rising, both monthly and annually. The average property is still selling for more than list price in most communities in the region.
Buyers - Good News for Now?
For those looking to buy, mortgage rates are now at incredibly low rates, with recent changes introduced by the Bank of Canada to stimulate the economy.
Get your pre-approvals done now, and get those low rates locked in, if possible. You can still work with your agent to view homes virtually, or in person while taking precautions for physical distancing and avoiding contact with surfaces.
If you are considering a move, please send me an email, or call me. I would be happy to explain the process and your options that will best help you and your situation.
Also, please continue to take precautions as directed by officials. Together, we will all get through this with a little inconvenience in the short-term. Please be considerate and thankful to those who are on the front lines, whether it be in healthcare or those working in retail and food service. I look forward to seeing many of you when this is behind us!