Monthly Archives: March, 2020

Real Estate During COVID-19

March 24th, 2020 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

Interesting times, eh? Many businesses have been shut down in the last week or so, but many are still up and running – including real estate… for now! TRREB continues to see new listings every day, and plenty of sales. I’ll admit that I’m a bit surprised, but it’s happening. These are strange times, but if you need to sell, and/or if you’ve spotted something that you want to buy, we can probably get it done.

Since much of real estate is conducted in person – client consultations, home valuations, showings, open houses, home inspections, etc. – it would seem like real estate would be a prime candidate for a shut-down – and it may yet happen. However, at least so far, business has continued with some interesting modifications. Here are a few:

  • No public open houses. This makes sense, and really doesn’t require any further explanation. 😉
  • No over-lapping showings. Sometimes, we allow more than one agent to take their buyer(s) through a home at the same time. This practice has been paused for now in an effort to limit physical contact amongst strangers.
  • Video showings – I’m not sure how common this will be, but it’s possible for an agent to, for example, walk through a listing with FaceTime or Skype going, and show a potential buyer more details than would be apparent via a standard virtual tour. (I have actually done this before, for an out-of-town buyer.)
  • Encouraging people viewing a property to follow hand washing and sanitizing guidelines established by health officials.
  • Using disinfecting wipes to clean commonly-shared surfaces like door handles.
  • Reminding clients viewing a property to avoid touching surfaces or items in the home.
  • Refraining from greeting others with handshakes or hugs (#socialdistancing!).
  • Encouraging sellers to thoroughly clean and disinfect the house after viewings.
  • Requesting that clients notify their Realtor if they become ill within two weeks of an open house or showing. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, we’ll want to communicate this with the homeowner and other attendees if possible.
  • Being extra diligent about tracking who attends the property, including the date, time and their contact information. In the event of an infection, we want to be able to provide the information to local public health authorities so they may investigate further.
  • Having buyers provide deposits via e-transfer, instead of a physical bank draft (which saves a trip to the bank, followed by a visit to the listing Brokerage, and further handling of the paper by staff, etc.).

Most of the above are obvious, and just require a reminder from time to time – but, we do need to be extra mindful of taking precautions.

The bottom line is that, for now, real estate business is still being conducted, and I’m here for you if you need anything!

January-February 2020 Market Review

March 11th, 2020 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

To start the year, I’m combining January and February into one review. 😉 Plus, I’ll make some comments about interest rates near the end.

January 2020 basically picked up where 2019 left off – busy! The pace of sales increased 15.4% (4,581 this January over 3,968 last January); at the same time, the number of new listings declined (again) to 7,836, from 9,456 last January. By the end of the month, there were just 7,772 listings available, down 35% from 11,962 last year! This now-familiar dynamic between the number of homes available and the number of sales caused the usual upwards price pressure: the average sale price hit $839,363, up 12.3% over the average for the same month last year (which was $747,175).

By the way, TRREB is now reporting seasonally adjusted, month-over-month changes in sales activity. I’m not sure if that will help with understanding the market – except to help identify when the spring and fall markets start and stop – but for the record, January sales were up 4.8% over December….

Condo sales in the 416 remain strong. Sales were up 9.7% and the average price was up 15%.

TRREB also noted that “the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark price was up by 8.7 per cent compared to January 2019 – the highest annual rate of growth for the Benchmark since October 2017”. Detached houses and condos were the biggest contributors to the change in the weighted average.

February 2020 was also a big month. There were 7,256 residential sales in February, up a whopping 45% over February of 2019 – but, it’s important to note that February 2019 saw a 10-year record low for sales (just 4,982). The big sales increase was somewhat mitigated by 10,613 new listings, an increase of 7.9% over the same month last year. However, by the end of the month there were just 8,816 listings available, down 33.6% from last year. The resulting price pressure drove up the average sale price to $910,290, +16.7% over the February 2019 average of $779,791.

TRREB reported that the sales activity in February was up by 14.8% over January. This shows some momentum over the last few months, but that’s to be expected at this time of year. We’ll have to see how this month-to-month data develops as the year progresses before I decide how I feel about this new metric; I’m not sure how helpful it will be. For example, it’s reasonable to expect that the COVID-19 panic will slow down sales this month – but I’d bet anything that the market will surge back to balance when the fears blow over. So, the month-to-month data could end up being misleading to some….

Condos had another good month. Sales activity increased by 26.2% and the average price increased by 18%, to $722,675.

TRREB’s MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up 10.2%. Townhouses had the smallest increase in price (10.5% – not exactly a ‘small increase’!) and condos had the largest increase in price.

Interest rates are dropping this week, partly due to the COVID-19 scare. (Rates are more directly related to bond prices, but the decline in bond prices may also be related to the COVID-19 scare….) If you got a mortgage last year or the year before, it may be worth speaking to your mortgage broker or bank and ask about the possibility of breaking your mortgage for a new one at the current rates. BEWARE OF THE PENALTIES! Don’t assume that today’s lower rates will make up for the cost of penalties – it depends upon who lent you the money, and what terms are in the mortgage. All I’m saying is that it’s something to consider/talk about. Contact me if you’d like to speak to one of my partners in the mortgage industry.