Toronto Pedestrian walking during the Pandemic wearing a face mask with construction in the background.

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How the Covid-19 Pandemic Has Changed Buying or Selling a Home 

Thanks to COVID-19, we’ve sat on the sidelines with many of our clients forced to put their real estate plans on hold. However, now that people realize life goes on – albeit in a very different way – many are getting back in the saddle. Although the pandemic has changed the way we live, we’ve adapted to restrictions and learned how to do everything safely. That includes how we buy and sell homes. If you’ve been waiting to buy or sell a home, now’s the time to take the leap. Here’s how the pandemic has changed the real estate process and how we’re helping clients navigate the uncharted real estate waters in the age of COVID-19. 

Leveraging Virtual Tools in Real Estate

Although most people already used virtual tours prior to COVID-19, now more than ever, the virtual tour reigns supreme. Real estate agents try to kick things up a notch offering clearer views, open shots of closets and other key areas of the home, and more in-depth descriptions to get into the nitty gritty of a property. Up close views of key features like flooring, countertops and storage can also be included in virtual tours. This is important to both buyers and sellers. From a sellers standpoint, they want to entice buyers but limit the number of people who come through their homes. From a buyers standpoint they want to be extra certain they want to view a home to reduce their potential exposure to the Covid virus. 

So what’s happening now is that virtual tours are being leveraged to help condense the whole viewing process. Buyers get a better look at what’s available and can narrow down their searches. Sellers get a higher quality of serious buyers searching for a home in earnest. In a way, it’s a better process. No more people visiting open houses for kicks. 

Safe, Impressive Property Appraisals  

Sellers can feel at ease knowing we take every precaution to keep you safe during the appraisal process. We keep our distance, wear masks and gloves and wash our hands as per Public Health Ontario recommendations. You can arrange to be with us during the appraisal, but many clients feel safer being out of the home when we visit. We work in the way that makes you feel most comfortable. Nothing is much different when it comes to your property appraisal, and we’re happy to say that despite a slight glitch on the radar when it comes to pricing, we’re still seeing very respectable listing prices. In fact, home prices were up 11.9 percent in Toronto for June compared to last year. So there’s really no reason to put selling your home on hold due to the pandemic. 

Expect Less Competition

Buyers can probably expect less competition while sellers can see a more qualified group of prospects. This works well for both sides as it makes it less stressful. During a pandemic you want to see less homes as a buyer, and worry about less viewings as a seller. So it kind of works out as a win-win situation. 

Open Houses, with a Twist

We think the main thing to keep in mind, is that things won’t be any different when shopping for a home then shopping for anything else. You can expect the same old, same old with hand washing stations, mask wearing and of course physical distancing. However, there will be some twists to open houses you won’t expect including:

  • Be prepared to fill out a health questionnaire, and sign a waiver confirming you’re symptom-free
  • We’ll ask you to sign our contact logbook for tracing purposes in the extremely limited chance we discover someone living in the home or viewing the home has COVID-19
  • You won’t have to rub elbows with anyone during your walk thru as we keep the number of people in the home limited due to physical distancing
  • Homes are completely sanitized, but we still advise you avoid touching anything in the home including doorknobs, light switches, toilets, taps, kitchen cabinet handles, etc.
  • As many doors as possible can be kept open for you, as long as it doesn’t interfere with a clear passage through the home
  • We’ll have every light in the home on, even in broad daylight for your convenience and to reduce touching

As well, sellers be prepared to allow a thorough sanitation of your home before and after your open house. It’s all in the name of health and safety!

Be Prepared for Unwelcoming Sellers

Despite all the precautions we have in place, buyers should prepare themselves to encounter less than welcoming sellers. By this we mean, we might have sellers who aren’t too keen on allowing viewings. In this case, we can try some different options such as a live Zoom walk through with one of our team members. You can tell us what you want to see, and we can focus on those areas. But the truth is, if you’re not willing to buy a home sight unseen, you might end up passing on homes not open to viewings. Again, it’s all about the comfort level of all involved in the whole process.

Flight to the Burbs

It’s not surprising many home buyers are looking to move to less densely populated areas. The pandemic scare has people considering a move from congested downtown areas , with the idea they’ll find safer housing out of town. But it’s more than that. The shift to working from home makes living in a larger home with a larger property more appealing since the commute is no longer a factor. It’s also incentive for renters to consider investing in affordable suburban areas. As a result we’re seeing some sellers putting their houses on the market with plans to leave the city. That means buyers hoping to find a house in the city have more options, even though for the most part inventories remain tight. Overall, there was a 4.1 percent increase in moves to 905 neighborhoods with an 11.2 percent drop in good old 416 hoods in June. Let’s just say you probably shouldn’t base your desire to move to the burbs on working from home. The trend will likely return to the office schlep as the virus slowly fades. Probably.

So, there you have it. Buying and selling real estate has adapted to the demands of the pandemic. There’s no need to put your plans on hold. We’re here to provide expert advice with a kickass team ready to help you meet your real estate goals. Got more questions and want to connect? Send us a message!

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