Over the past seven days (March 21 to March 27), the number of sales reported on the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board have been down. But that’s okay. Real estate professionals are taking safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Home sellers who are cautious about buyers looking around their homes are rejecting showing requests. Open houses have become mostly virtual. (Update: a ban was implemented on in-person open houses so all of them are virtual for now.) But again, this is all okay.
The real estate industry has certainly adapted to ‘new’ ways of doing business. Virtual showings. Virtual open houses. Virtual meetings. Social distancing has changed the way real estate transactions are being conducted.
Yet transactions continue because real estate is considered an essential service. If a homeowner had sold their home prior to the ‘semi-lockdown’ we are currently complying with, they must absolutely need to buy a house to move into. Hence they’re working with their real estate agent to find places (virtually), skip the physical showing, put an offer to purchase a house (conditional on a physical home inspection), and then close it with a lawyer who can witness the signing of documents via online conference call.
It’s not business as usual, but real estate business is being conducted.
When you look at March 21 to March 27, comparing 2020 to 2019, this is what you’ll see:
Freehold houses: A total of 675 homes sold in the GTA (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) during the period of March 21 to 27, 2020. During the same period in 2019, a total of 1,157 homes sold. That’s a 42% decrease in total home sales.
Condos: A total of 408 condos sold in the GTA during this period in 2020. In 2019, a total of 732 condos sold. That’s a 44% decrease.
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board will be releasing the data for March 2020 sales in a few days. You’ll likely see an ‘increase’ in sales overall, and an increase in average price. Just remember — the first half of March 2020 was very busy, as expected for a spring market and certainly because of the momentum the market has gained over the past few months. But the latter half of March 2020 will reveal the true picture of where real estate sales are really headed amid the COVID-19 experience we are all currently going through.
This drop in sales is expected, and is okay. I know that sounds counterintuitive for someone in the real estate business. But let’s face it. The only way sales could increase in this time period is for real estate agents to go out there, show houses, get listings, meet face to face, do open houses… and spread COVID-19. This is not acceptable.
At this time, everybody needs to do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Don’t be surprised by an extended period of declining real estate sales. For now, the average price is holding steady but remember that price is a factor of supply and demand. There are not many new listings coming to the market for both freehold houses and condos, and this factor is keeping average prices steady for the time being.
I hope you and your family stay well and safe. Please reach out to me if I can help you in any way.
Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash