How We're Adapting During COVID-19
POSTED on 03-31-2020
Now that we’re a few weeks into our collective social distancing to try and flatten the curve of COVID-19, you might find yourself wondering how the current situation has affected the Toronto real estate market. With the government declaring real estate an essential service, one thing’s for sure – no matter what’s going on in the world, people will always need help finding a place to live. Some have already bought a new home and now need to sell their current home. Others have personal reasons for moving, such as living within a preferred school district, closer to a loved one, or nearer to a new job opportunity. Regardless, whether you’re thinking of selling or buying, or just plain curious, read on for our take on the market and to learn how we’re adapting to this ever-changing landscape.
In the spirit of social distancing, Realtors have been asked by our governing bodies to stop all open houses and to minimize showings and face-to-face business in our collective effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. While this is a big change from how we usually do things, there are still a number of new listings hitting the market. What we have noticed is that there are fewer serious buyers presently looking, so competition has significantly decreased. The past few weeks have also seen fewer bidding wars and fewer sales being artificially inflated due to intense competition. This means that now is a good time for serious buyers to purchase a property.
Selling a house in this market is certainly possible, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you find yourself absolutely needing to sell. As mentioned above, there are now fewer serious buyers, which means there is less competition and less chance that you’ll get strong offers.
If you do need to sell during this time, here are some steps that we are taking to keep you safe and help get you top dollar for your home:
• Mandating that all agents and their clients sign a mandatory health declaration form indicating they are healthy, haven’t recently traveled, and haven’t come into contact with anyone sick;
• Hosting virtual open houses via Zoom to ensure that as many people as possible can view the property;
• Conducting one-on-one virtual tours for prospective buyers and agents, whereby we visit the property ourselves and provide a walk-through via Zoom so that they can safely see the property;
• Providing plenty of multimedia to prospective buyers and agents before they see the property in person, including videos, virtual tours, photos, custom websites, and more;
• Limiting showings so that there is no overlap;
• Providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for visitors’ use
Now is a great time to purchase a property.
Compared to earlier this year, when we were seeing 15+ offers on most properties, the past few weeks have seen much less competition for buyers, and we are still seeing many new listings each week. This means that there are now some opportunities to purchase a house or condo without the intense levels of competition we saw earlier this year. In fact, in the past week we’ve helped two of our clients purchase properties after months of looking and being out-bid. In one case, there was only one other offer, and in the second case, our clients were the only offer. Even just a month ago we would have expected to see offers numbering in the teens for both properties.
If you are considering buying a property during this time, here are some steps we are taking to help keep us all safe:
• Being selective regarding the number of properties we see together (i.e. only looking at properties you really like!);
• Ensuring that we are the only group visiting a property at a time;
• Driving in different vehicles or meeting at the property;
• Keeping a safe social distance of at least two metres apart;
• Using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes before and after showings
Contactless Closing, Essential Services, and Clauses
Realtors are not the only group that have been deemed by the government as essential: lawyers, movers, and other professions related to real estate are also essential services and will continue to work throughout this crisis. For the first time ever, all closing activities are now contactless, with traditional lawyer in-person signings moving to electronic platforms, all funds now transferred via wire transfer, and keys exchanged through lockboxes left at the property. Essentially, aside from physically visiting a property, you can now purchase and sell a property from the safe comfort of your own home.
We have also created a series of clauses designed to protect both buyers and sellers and ensure that closings are not adversely impacted in the event that anyone is sick and must self-quarantine, or in the event that any services necessary for closing are not operating, including banks, lenders, lawyers, and land registry offices.
In short, while selling may be more challenging these days, it is a good time to buy, and regardless of whether you’re selling or buying, we have adapted the way we do business to keep our clients, the public, and ourselves safe as we work together to beat COVID-19.
We hope you find this update helpful! Please reach out to us if you have any questions or even just to chat.
Stay safe and healthy, and to all the front-line workers and essential services – thank you!