West Toronto - How has Covid - 19 Changed the Real Estate Market
We have seen many changes to the West Toronto Real Estate Market over the past year-and-a-half due to Covid-19.
Days before our lockdown in March 2020, I was dealing with my listing in the popular High Park area in west-end Toronto with over the top buyer activity. As part of my marketing plan, I had scheduled a Thursday twilight public open house, followed by a weekend open house just prior to our Monday offer date. We received an email from our RLP CEO suggesting we rethink public open houses at this time as Covid-19 was becoming a real threat within our country and there were so many unknowns at that time. We cancelled all of the planned open houses and proceeded with booked showings only. Offer day came on March 16th and my sellers were fortunate to have multiple offers. The presentation happened early evening at my office where we received the offers via email and that was when I was notified by my Broker Manager that we were going into lockdown the following day and there would be no-one else allowed in our office that evening. The winning offer's agent came to my office with their deposit cheque and had to slip it through the mail slot to me, while I slipped him back a receipt. It was quite unnerving and the following day we had until noon, to collect our computers and files before we were in formal lockdown! Our doors were closed to both the public and staff and we began our new lives working and staying at home.
Ontario Realtors were initially asked to stop face-to-face business amid the state of emergency, especially with showing tenant occupied properties. We were immediately thrown into using modern technology platforms that we hadn't utilized as much before, such as Zoom Video Conferencing, Digital open houses and digital signing for both offers on properties and closings with lawyers. The real estate industry was included as an essential service to accomodate situations where buyers and sellers needed to either buy or sell asap. It certainly was not business as usual and we really had to evaluate our own personal health and comfort before going out to show a property. Most real estate companies adopted strict Covid Protocols in place to protect both their realtors, buyers and sellers. This included restricting double showings, not allowing children to attend showings, signed forms by all parties attending an appointment, masks, gloves, hand santizer and not touching anything in the property. Our industry suppliers also implemented such measures, so that Building Inspectors and Photographers were the only ones allowed in the property, while they did their service. Often appraisers were only driving by and doing visual inspections from the exterior with interior photographs being used for reference.
"Pivot" became the new industry buzz word used for everything! I was now conducting client interviews over a Zoom meeting along with office meetings, tech training, my Rotary Club meetings, my art classes, real estate conferences and personal get-togethers.
The Canadian Real Estate Market initially stalled with the lockdown but we quickly saw signs of movement as "cottage country" became the new area of desirability. The prices in these areas soared as buyers looked at living in their out-of-town dream home away from the urban crowds and the ability to work remotely from home. Local rural and suburban agents were shocked at the activity and rising prices. Many people felt their jobs could be done from anywhere and they were looking for a less expensive cost of living and a quality of life away from the fear of Covid-19. The area's internet speed and availabilty was now more of a priority for both conducting business and online schooling for the kids.
Analysts felt the pent-up demand came from the spring lockdown that had stalled real estate. Our Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper said the coronavirus pandemic, while slowing down other parts of the economy had influenced peoples choices of where they lived. The three P's of the pandemic became: puppies, Peloton and property.
Areas that had previously been known as having lower prices, such as in Atlantic Canada, now had skyrocketing prices with more buyers than sellers.
A complete collapse in the Real Estate market in March of 2020 to a slow rebuild over the past 18 months has shown many surprises as to where the Market stands.
If you listened only to the media you would feel prices and sales are way up and we are in a boom at this time. Studying each neighbourhood in West Toronto I have found this is not the case in each neighbourhood.
Here is how some of the west-end Toronto neighbourhoods compared from the 1st and 2nd quarter of this year over last.
According to TRREB stats for January 2020 - June 2021 in these neighbourhoods:
W01 - High Park-Swansea, Roncesvalles, South Parkdale - semi-detached properties rose 11% over last year while condos only increased by 1%.
W02 - Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson Junction, Runnymede Bloor West Village, Lambton Baby Point, Junction - detached properties rose 13% over last year with condos dropping 9%.
W06 - Mimico, Long Branch, New Toronto, Alderwood - detached properties rose 7% with semi-detached properties increasing 6% over last year.
W07 - Stonegate-Queensway, Sunnylea, Thompson Orchard, Queensway Village, Norseman Heights, Springbrook Gardens - increased overall 24% with condos rising 1%.
The first and second quarters of 2020 were still quite quiet and only beginning to rebound. The areas can be broken down even more specifically to each neighbourhood for actual stats regarding to specific types and styles of homes. This is only an overview of these areas and the average prices overall and don't reflect on specific properties.
The media often lumps the entire GTA prices together for a picture that is not always accurate, whether it be for shattering records or falling prices. It's always recommended to have specific data on the exact neighbourhood and type of property, when looking to either purchase or sell.
How our real estate practices will change in the future is yet to be determined. We have only just begun to have public open houses again and they aren't conducted in the same manner as before. Social distancing, masks and protecting the health of everyone involved is still paramount to conducting this form of marketing. It seems like many new practices adapted during this time will continue and hopefully will help streamline the process of buying and selling properties in a positive manner.