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COVID-19 and the Regional Real Estate Market

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You know that we are in strange times indeed when words such as a pandemic, self-isolation, social-distancing, and quarantine become liberally sprinkled into our daily conversations as if they had been there all along.

Never have we ever witnessed such a stoically united front as the entire world fights COVID-19 together. Our lives have been abruptly ruptured, paused and placed into chaos as we lean into this pandemic and gird ourselves for what comes next. The least we can do is stay at home, check-in with our friends and family, and be truly thankful for what we have.

Customary dinner conversations once concerning local Real Estate have largely been replaced by effective hand-washing techniques, Netflix suggestions and where to purchase toilet paper.

That hot seller’s market which bolted out of the gates early in January is now mostly at a stand-still as buyers pause their searches. Some sellers have suspended their listings, and those brave enough to tough-it-out have seen a significant reduction in the number of viewings. Sadly, some sellers were caught on opposing lanes of the purchasing and selling highway when Coronavirus came to town, and it is largely for these clients that Real Estate remains an essential service, with diametrically altered rules of engagement.

Unless a seller absolutely needs to list their property right now, any agent with an ounce of morality would strongly advise against doing so. Fewer eyes on the listing combined with limited physical capabilities for actually ‘showing’ a home, other than with a virtual platform, translate into a weak process, and an even weaker price. How long should we all wait? Well, even the most respected industry experts don’t know the answer to this one…….maybe two months, maybe longer, and possibly even a bit longer than that?

Despite tantalizingly low-interest rates, previously active buyers are opting to hunker down and sideline their search, being justifiably worried about layoffs and the precariousness of purchasing a home during a time when their savings should remain liquid for the foreseeable future. Others may indeed anticipate a buying opportunity, but with seriously limited inventory, the choice simply is not there. Even hard-core investors are realizing that this isn’t the sweet deal that they were expecting given the fact that borrowed money is incredibly cheap. With a moratorium upon evictions, tenanted property will remain tenanted and that lucrative flip or duplex conversion just isn’t going to run smoothly with anticipated labour and product supply restrictions.

Here, at TrilliumWest, we are adjusting and collaborating upon new ways to operate when physically visiting a property may not be possible or even practical. For various reasons, over the next few months, real estate will continue to be traded and this definitely is not business as usual. It is absolutely crucial that any new listings are accompanied by high-resolution videos and digital open houses, home inspection reports and too many photos. Now more than ever, it is critical that the marketing of such properties is transparent, vast and highly accessible. Writing offers conditional upon ‘safe and secure’ viewings at a later date, accounting for potential extensions due to quarantines, mandating electronic signatures, email offers, and requesting that keys be left in a lockbox on the property instead of with the legal team are all becoming the fabric of our new landscape. Serving our clients while keeping everyone safe and healthy is our top priority.

On a positive note, those same rock-bottom interest rates are expected to remain as such for an extended period after we finally wave goodbye to COVID-19 and host our massively

anticipated global hug-fest. Housing will play an incredibly important role in our economic recovery and in the collective revving of the national engine once again.
Stay tuned my lovelies, we shall prevail. And when the time is right, your favourite realtors will be at your service; rested up, with the cleanest hands ever, and ready to make some noise.