Who knew, as we rang in the New Year 2020, that a few short months later, the world would be facing a pandemic of epic proportions and speed? That commerce around the world would grind to a halt; that job losses would mount to the millions overnight; that our streets would be empty; and that our hospitals would be full?
The disruption to our lives has been enormous, with all but essential businesses shut down. Just prior to the entry of the pandemic into our lives, there were signs that the Toronto real estate market was coming out of a slow Fall/Winter ... that sales were ramping up nicely for both single family homes and condominiums. The pundits were predicting a banner year for real estate prices, supported by the continuation of high demand and low mortgage rates. Covid19 has changed everything.
As of April 4, 2020 the Province of Ontario has forbidden all Open Houses. With continual entreaties by both government and health officials to stay at home to stop the spread of the disease, both Buyers and Sellers are heeding the warnings. Sellers don't want strangers (who may be asymptomatic Covid19 carriers) in their homes, and Buyers don't want to enter a property which may be owned or occupied by an asymptomatic Covid19 carrier.
So, how do you navigate the Toronto Real Estate Market in the time of Covid19? Here are my thoughts, informed by the best practices being recommended by my brokerage, Johnston & Daniel:
The number of new listings, of both houses and condos, has dropped dramatically. If Sellers don't have to absolutely sell, they are being advised to stay put, and wait for the virus to abate.
Open Houses are now strictly forbidden, and many condominium buildings are not allowing non-residents to enter. Any viewing appointments, for either houses or condos, are being strictly limited, and you will not be allowed to touch anything, open kitchen cabinets, open closet doors, etc.. If I can get a viewing appointment for you, you will be asked to sign a declaration that you have no symptoms, have not travelled anywhere in the last 14 days, haven't been in contact with someone diagnosed with the virus, etc. This information will be kept on file in case contact tracing needs to be done.
Obviously if you are older, or have any underlying medical conditions, you should simply stay home and stay safe. The real estate market will be there when we all get thru this.
The above being said, if you NEED to purchase a house or condo, or if it happens that the perfect property you've been searching for is suddenly listed, there are work-arounds that we can use, to assist you in making your purchase during these unprecedented times. Some of these are:
- Examining a property via virtual tour, photographs and floor plans
- Utilizing special clauses in your Offer to Purchase, which makes the offer conditional on an on-site viewing or inspection
- The ability to sign all legal Offer documents via an online signature authentication system
- The ability to make Offer deposits via wire transfer instead of bank draft or certified cheque
The correct answer regarding whether you should purchase a house or condo right now will be different for each person, dependant on their own special circumstances. I'm here to provide you with the information you need, and to walk you through various scenarios ... there is no obligation. My main concern is that
We All Stay Safe
If you have already read the Buyers' advice on this page, then you will know that I am advising Sellers who do not absolutely need to sell their houses or condos, to take a deep breath and stay put.
The real estate market has slowed dramatically from what it was 2 weeks ago. As already mentioned, Open Houses are now strictly forbidden and many condominium buildings are not allowing non-residents (i.e. Buyers and their agents) to enter. It might not be possible to arrange for a pre-sale home inspection - a valuable marketing tool. Home stagers and professional photographers are not on the essential list of services, so it will be difficult, if not impossible, to prepare and showcase your property in the manner I would have done, pre-Covid19. If you forbid on-site showings, you will need to be prepared to receive Offers to Purchase that are conditional on on-site viewing or inspection. If you allow on-site showings, you will have to prepare to disinfect your house after each one, even though I would do my best to do that for you.
The above being said, if you really NEED to sell your house or condo, these are some of the work-arounds that we can use, to assist you to sell your property during these unprecedented times. Some of these are:
- Placing your home on exclusive listing, allowing us to better screen prospective buyers prior to any on-site showings
- Utilizing technology to create virtual live tours or have your property virtually staged
- Utilizing special clauses in a mandatory Schedule to any Offer to Purchase, to protect you wherever possible
- The ability to sign all legal Offer documents via an online signature authentication system and accept Offer deposits via wire transfer
The correct answer regarding whether you should sell your house or condo right now will be different for each person, dependant on their own special circumstances. I'm here to provide you with the information you need, and to walk you through various scenarios ... there is no obligation. My main concern is that
We All Stay Safe
Now And Always, There's No Place Like Home
If there is anything that the current situation has taught me, it's that There's No Place Like Home. We will get thru this, but the medical experts are predicting that this will not be the last pandemic we will see in our lifetimes. The world is getting smaller, and unfortunately that means that microbes and viruses are finding it easier to hitch a ride on unsuspecting travellers. While we hope to return to "normal" as soon as possible, we should be aware that the call for social distancing and "shelter at home" orders may come again. That is why HOME is so important ... whether it is a tiny condo, starter home semi, or something more opulent. More than ever, Home Is Where the Heart Is. It's where our loved ones are, and it's where we can be comfortable and secure in the face of harrowing times.
Dorothy got it right.