How Covid-19 has affected Buyers and Sellers?
Since last year’s rapid pivot in working around both a global pandemic as well as our own local lockdown, it didn’t take long for the process of buying and selling real estate to adapt to the changing climate that we were dealing with. From the beginning, we were deemed an essential service, to accommodate buyers and sellers that were in a position where they had to sell or buy. It didn’t seem to take long before interest caught on and we were seeing a flood of sellers and buyers exiting urban locations for cottage country and outside of Metropolitan Toronto.
Rather than coveting the local bistros and galleries which were then not available to enjoy, people wanted access to nature as a way to cope with their restricted lives.
Cottage country realtors had never seen this scope of activity that continued to drive up prices outside of Toronto. The demand certainly outweighed the supply of available properties.
Initially, in the early days of the Pandemic in 2020, condo prices fell and the desire to live in a box in the sky was diminished by the current lifestyle of living, working and schooling from home. The downtown “pied-a-terre”, steps to entertainment, shops and fab eateries, was not the same sexy place to call home, that had been so desirable and cool only months earlier.
Now there was a huge demand for urbanites that were still remaining in the city, to find their own green spaces, and “pandemic puppy sales” were on the rise.
Current home owners began to re-evaluate their personal needs within their own spaces and many sought out purchasing properties that suited their new norm, with extra home office space, areas for a home gym, separate home schooling areas and in some cases combining multi-generational living.
Initially homeowners had to wrap their heads around what was the new process for selling and buying real estate. Strict Covid-19 measures were in place for the safety of all involved. Realtors and Buyers signed Covid Documents attesting to their health and exposure to others. Gloves, masks and sanitizer were the new norm for real estate showings and open houses were all virtually done. Almost all of the selling was done with electronic signatures as well as lawyers for the first time also doing their closings electronically and virtually with Zoom and similar platforms.
Strict restrictions were in place for the number of “adults only” at a showing and Home Inspectors typically did their inspections without anyone else in the property at the same time. Appraisers were also doing drive-by appraisals with interior photos and most of the business was done with a “hands off” approach. Showings were done within a short window of time and lights were left on so that the minimal amount of touching a surface was done.
We’ve come a long way from the beginning of the Pandemic but we’re still living with the severity of Covid-19. Vaccinations have allowed us to loosen some of our restrictions; however we are still abiding by many of the Covid-19 Protocols in place.
Toronto is beginning to see its urban appeal bringing back buyers that still want the vibe of the city as well as more restaurants and other types of entertainment businesses reopen. More people are also being drawn back to their work-place and the proximity to work will again become an important factor in deciding where they live.
Single family homes will always be both popular in a city where the supply can’t keep up to the demand. Multiple offers are often the norm and Condos have again become the popular choice for both lifestyle and affordability. Many of the real estate practices will carry on going forward, as we realized how quickly we all adapted to an electronic mode of continuing to facilitate so many aspects of this business as well as so many others.
Many of us have re-evaluated where and how we live and what is important to our daily lives. From the location to the size, floorplan and style of our homes, many changes have shaped our new approach going forward. Renovations are on the rise as well as a backlog of pools having been ordered.
Whether we choose to live in an urban location or outside of the city, we have shown that we are resilient. Record low interest rates and optimism about the economy are still positive factors for both buyers and sellers. We will also see added interest to the market in sales and rentals, once immigration and foreign students return, especially in urban locations. Remember to “look before you leap” and consider your options if choosing a complete change in location or proximity to your place of business. We’ll be seeing a cross-section of businesses asking their employees to return back to their offices, over the next year and it will be interesting to see if there is an age demographic difference in those wanting to remain at home or return to the office.
As we slowly transition into a new type of normal and begin to see more types of businesses coming back, many of the buyers and sellers who had been having a “wait and see” attitude will get back to their plans of moving forward with a purchase or sale. Record low interest rates are still fueling the market and original plans for a move might look somewhat different after experiencing our last year and a half of restricted lifestyle.