What the heck is actually happening right now? This a question many people are trying to come to terms with right now, both on a personal and a professional level.
The Vaughan market has always been a wild ride. I’ve watched this city above Toronto grow up over the last 27+ years of my real estate career. I remember the day Canada’s Wonderland opened up and thought the amusement park was the greatest thing to happen in my neighbourhood. Then Woodbridge expanded, along with Thornhill, Richmond Hill and Maple. What used to seem like a long drive out to the country along Highway 7 or up Dufferin, Jane or Weston, became another part of the retail landscape.
Honestly, I thought I’d seen it all. Nope.
A new way of doing what we do
I have always been an in-person agent, presenting my buyer’s offers on properties to the listing agent. I show up, with a smile on my face and a deposit cheque in my hand. Digital offers and virtual presentations will likely lead the way as the normal way of doing business from now on. This pandemic has sped up the adoption of technologies that will enable realtors to continue serving their clients with efficiency, while still maintaining some of the personal touch.
There are now new rules in place for realtors surrounding showings, open houses and listings. The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) and The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) have both strongly advised against holding open houses and I intend to comply. As a seller, you can refuse to open your house to the public; as a buyer, you should be prepared to view a house through photos and videos. This is far removed from the norm, and only time will tell how many people will actually be listing their houses during this pandemic and how many buyers will be willing to purchase with the limitations of physical distancing. With offers usually being made conditional on a physical viewing and inspection of the property, buyers and sellers – and their realtors – will have to be very flexible in how we keep the process moving forward.
I expect 360 degree immersive and interactive video and virtual tours, so popular in the late 1990s, will once again rise to the top of the marketing pile. Facebook and YouTube live videos will also become important platforms to show houses.
What’s happening now
Last week, (March 16th & 17th) right in the middle of the chaos, there were still multiple offers for listings. I was one of 12 offers on a property. Homes continued to sell above asking.
I can’t say with any certainty why this is happening, but the numbers are telling me that even with the threat of coronavirus, people are still buying. Interest rates have dropped and we still have a shortage of inventory. Add to this human nature – that we sometimes need something unexpected to happen to spur us into action – and you’ve got an instant lift in the market like we saw last week.
Knowing what you want
By the weekend, the number of showings dropped by 58.6%, and offer registrations dropped by 49.6%. Real estate clearly wasn’t business as usual. People are starting to feel the severity of what is happening. Overall, however, real estate has been put on the back burner. I’m not sure what to make of this market, but I am keeping a close watch.
While I am doing my part in practicing physical distancing, I want to continue supporting you in your decision to to sell or buy your home in this new climate. I am considering the options while following the advice of our health authorities, TRREB and RECO.
If you have any questions or need more information, please reach out. This is a very tough time for all of us, but all of us are in this together.