“There’s things we can do as far as showing homes like regular washing of hands, not touching surfaces and keeping a distance in the home allowing clients to go through it while agents stand at the door,” Petersen said.
Petersen said the effects of COVID-19 will likely be felt across the local real estate market, but to what effect is unknown.
In the past week, she said clients have cancelled showings and sellers are not feeling comfortable with foot traffic through their home.
Walter Lorenz, Owner of ReMax The Battlefords and Meadow Lake has been in the real estate business for more than 20 years and is finding some showings are being cancelled, some not.
“I think this is dramatically different than a normal turn of the economy,” he said. “That’s where you see things that can find a correction and bring things back up again,” he said.
Lorenz said real estate transactions are still taking place and until the first part of April, the rural real estate market may adjust to a new reality.
“We’re offering virtual tours and extra images and we are in there with clients, but we keep our separation,” he said. “That’s doable one-on-one on a smaller scale, it’s the larger groups we have to be more careful with.”
Buyer and sellers becoming comfortable with the current situation could present challenges but Lorenz is confident the province has a grip on the pandemic.
The real estate market is subject to a number of economic factors though. Lorenz predicts recreational property sales could be affected in the coming year.
“It’s the recreation property that could likely take the bigger hit for the next short while. It could be the next year or next season of activity. It’s an area of expenditure that doesn’t have that need or area of importance at this time.
Both North Battleford and Meadow Lake ReMax offices are closed to the public. However, agents are able to conduct online transactions on behalf of their clients.
Paulson: Real estate industry taking precautions during COVID-19 – Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Jason Yochim, CEO of the SRA, holds a conference call with agents three times a week to share news, advice and protocols.
“With no more open houses, we’ve advised our agents on what we call essential sales activity,” he said in an interview. “For example, if I want to move to that bigger house I’ve always wanted, maybe now is not the time to do that.”
On the flip side, some people need to move. Life changes such as divorce, or settling an estate, or moving for employment purposes are considered essential housing transactions, Yochim noted.
“We’re guiding our members that way. We’re (also) encouraging them to utilize technology for showings, whether it’s Facebook live or virtual tour products.”
COVID-19: Vancouver real estate now a 'riskier' asset, causing mortage rates to rise – Vancouver Sun
“Over the next week or two the banks are going to tighten,” he said. “Even if you want a mortgage they might not give you one. As a bank you can’t blame them.”
And third, Saretsky said that coming into the coronavirus crisis “consumer insolvencies were growing at a pretty rapid pace, the quickest in 10 years and that was when the economy was buzzing and we had the lowest unemployment in 10 years.
“Now unemployment is up to 15 per cent, consumer insolvencies are going to go up. Everyone thinks prices will be down 10 per cent by May. It’s a much more drawn out process because real estate is so illiquid. There’s no price discovery right now because nothing is selling.”
According to the latest Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver figures, last month there were 2,524 sales across all classes of residential homes. This was an increase over the same time last year, that included a 2.1 per cent increase in values.
However, the board noted that everything changed mid way through March, when the state of emergency was called. Realtors are considered an essential service.
LEVY: Is Toronto's real estate market a bubble poised to burst? – Toronto Sun
Less than a month ago, we were receiving a steady stream of real estate flyers in our door, proclaiming that homes in the neighbourhood and well beyond had sold for up to 115% of the listing price.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit Toronto with a vengeance.
The flyers have disappeared — as have real estate signs — during what is supposed to be a peak selling season.
One could say the Toronto real estate market has gone from resoundingly healthy to bordering on static in a matter of weeks.
The latest statistics from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) show that home sales were actually up 49% during the first two weeks of March (considered the pre-COVID-19 period) compared to the same time last year.
But during the last two weeks of March (starting on March 15) sales were down 15.9% compared to the same period last year.
New listings mirrored that trend with listings down in the last half of last month by 18.4%.
It is interesting to note that the average selling price in the Toronto area was still holding its own during the last half of March — at $862,563, up 10% from the same period last year.
Jason Mercer, of TRREB, told me Friday the first two weeks of March were in line with what they saw in January and February — a strong market and near-record sales.
Once the social-distancing rules were put in place and the call by their board to realtors to shut down open houses, those in the industry started to see a “greater impact” on the market.
“It was definitely a tale of two halves in March,” he said, noting that sales and listings really dropped off in the last week of the month.
Mercer said they’re still waiting to see the impact on a “more stabilized basis” of the lack of open houses and in-person showings.
“I think April is going to be a telling month in terms of what we see in the short-term,” he said.
While they have seen an “uptick” in the extension of listings, he said it’s too soon to tell whether sales have fallen through before closings because it typically takes 60-90 days for a deal to be finalized..
Richard Sherman, broker of record for Slavens & Associates Real Estate, said they were one of the first companies to shut down open houses — more than three weeks ago — to be “socially responsible” and not take any risks.
He said while real estate has been made essential, it really isn’t business as usual.
“It’s been business as usual to close all of our firm deals in the second half of March, April and ensuing months,” he said.
He and his firm believe real estate should only be essential if there’s an emergency need or to close deals– if our city truly wants to beat this virus.
Real estate lawyer Martin Gladstone said closings are occurring but they are tortuous.
He said staff at banks are in isolation at home and ordinary channels of moving money had to change overnight. Meetings with clients to sign are now virtual, he added
“It is a brave new world and many are filled with anxiety, buyer’s remorse, and fear,” he said.
Mercer said 2020 will definitely be a year that is not dictated by the “regular seasonal norms” and if the COVID-19 peak resolves during the spring, they could see a recovery in the fall and winter.
He doesn’t feel the market will crash and figures they will come out on the other side at some point with a certain degree of “pent-up demand.”
Mercer said it is “possible in the short term” that prices could drop but over the longer term, the market will “tighten up pretty quickly.
But as he cautioned: “This is unprecedented.”
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