April 16, 2020 | Covid-19
I feel like we are just beginning to see how our quarantine and self-distancing actions are slowing the progress of Covid-19. And though these are early days, and it is extremely important to keep up with such measures, we can start to imagine what buying and selling Toronto real estate will be like in the future when the quarantine will be relaxed. Whether it’s sooner or later, restrictions will be eased at some point.
When that happens, there is a very good chance that we will have far fewer new cases of Covid-19 circulating throughout the city, but we won’t be entirely rid of the virus. Until we find a vaccine or until the virus runs its course, we may be living with the virus for some time. So, with that said, we will be heading into a time when some current restrictions around real estate will be loosened up, but not all of them. At first, buying and selling real estate won’t be the same as before Covid-19. We will likely see a staggered lifting of our restrictions.
Here’s what will likely be different when you come out of quarantine and return to buying and selling real estate in Toronto:
More Paper Work
You may be required to sign a statement that you know the potential dangers of entering a property, if you are a buyer. You may also have to sign off that you are not ill or have been near anyone having symptoms of Covid-19. This will all have to be done before you even enter a property. Same goes for sellers. You may also need to sign off on a statement that clearly indicates that you, someone in your household, or someone with whom you have been in contact, does not have any symptoms of Covid-19. You will also need to sign off on the risks of having people go through your property and what precautions must be taken. All of this is currently in effect, but it will last past the first lifting of quarantine measures.
Two Meters Still Required
This will be easier when showing houses, but a tough one in certain condo elevators Any showings will require at least 2 meters between the real estate salesperson and their client. Masks may required. Showings will likely have the real estate salesperson lead by 2 meters, and turn on/off any light switches or open handles.
No Driving Together
For buyers and their real estate salespeople, it has been suggested by many brokerages that we may need to arrive at each property in separate modes of transportation. This is an extension of the 2 meter rule. This will be easier if the buyer and the agent both drive, but a bit more challenging if public transit is required. I’m not sure it’s much safer for a buyer to travel with an Uber Driver or public transit instead of an agent. Still, this one may last longer.
Offers By Email
Though some agents have presented their offers in person by choice or because it is requested by the seller, this practice for the near future won’t be done. It will all be submitted by email, and done through electronic signature. There will be many more wire transfers than physical bank drafts or certified cheques for the deposit.
Easier Movement Between Properties to Be Viewed
I thought I would throw in one thing that may make things easier! There will less traffic at first. As businesses ramp up again in China, companies have staggered start times for work so everyone’s not commuting at once. I’m not sure if that will be done here, but many people may still be working from home at first. So, the one small advantage for the short term in all this misery – less traffic.
Open Houses Still MAY Not be Allowed
Right now open houses are banned, as they should be. They create too much of an opportunity for community spread of the virus. So, open houses may stay banned, but if they are allowed, I suspect there will be very specific rules on how they can be conducted. It may be very similar to how things are currently run at most grocery stores. We have have lineups with 2 meters between interested viewers outside the house to keep the people in the house to a limit.
I should note that there have been a few condos that currently do not allow showings at their condo during the Covid-19 crisis. Once everyone feels the virus is more under control, I suspect condos will return to allowing showings, but how fast that happens may depend on the condo board. Currently, there are very few boards with such restrictions. I’m not even sure if such restrictions are legal, but there’s probably little resistance to these added condo restrictions at this point. So, those will not all be removed at once, but as each condo decides to lift their own restrictions.
I think the first move out of quarantine will keep many of the rules and suggestions we had during quarantine. The only difference is that more people will be back at work. Because we will see life slowly returning to normal, real estate will likely start to pick up again. With more people working and a feeling that the worst (hopefully) is over, there may be more focus on other things. I do have sellers and buyers becoming more curious about when the Toronto real estate market will start up again. I don’t think anyone wants to break quarantine and keep this virus in dangerous circulation, but there is a desire to get back to life again, provided it is safe.
I don’t think the market will suddenly become “unpaused”. It will gradually loosen up at first, but over a few weeks, once people feel comfortable interacting with one another again in a less restricted environment, I think it will fully come back. It will be interesting to see if the pent up demand from the Spring market that never was will bring a more robust market in the Summer or Fall, or if the economic recovery will make people hesitant to jump in again. I think that even if we have the viewing and offer restrictions and changes I’ve outlined above, we will still see a significant comeback in the number of transactions this year.