What will the Toronto real estate industry look like in a post-COVID world?


While federal, provincial and local governments are all hesitant to set a deadline for lifting the current measures, it is still difficult to imagine what life will be like after COVID-19.

The number of possible outcomes really depends on how each level of government (and eventually society) continues to respond to the crisis and its direct impact on the economy. Hopefully not only Canadians, but people everywhere, will use the pandemic to rebuild and create a better world for all. Or, we could wake up to something a lot worst.

From a real estate point of view, could we see the stock market crash? Some experts say this is unlikely, but the rising unemployment rate, which included the loss of a million jobs in March and many other Canadians worried about being unemployed in April, combined with the downturn economy, are of great concern.

LILY: Average home price in Toronto drops nearly 4% in the first half of April: TRREB

Every industry has already taken a hit, including real estate, with sales, house prices and new listings falling across most of the country. But as the physical distancing measures are lifted, pent-up demand should translate into a significant recovery in home sales and prices, with some analysts believing that this phase of recovery could likely occur later in the fall.

Which begs the question: what will the real estate industry look like in the post-COVID-19 era, especially here in Toronto?

Brynn Lackie of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. says, like many other industries, that this crisis is forcing those working in real estate to reconsider how they do things and how they can better use the tools they already have. “Creativity and innovation will be the natural result of it all,” says Lackie.

Some signs of creativity are already in place, buyers, sellers and agents turning to virtual and 3D house tours to preview the ads, as physical distance measures and open day cancellations remain in place .

“I think now more than ever it will be essential to deliver a robust digital experience to market a list to people securely connected at home. Not to mention the fact that there are incredible tools available that most agents (myself included until recently) haven’t even started exploring, let alone using – everything from virtual staging to Cinema quality HD interactive virtual tours, ”said Lackie.

But as the lockdowns soften in the weeks and months to come, Lackie says that until a vaccine is available or the virus goes away, people will continue to feel vulnerable.

“Let’s meet them where they are. Honestly, I don’t see how we can get back to “business as usual” anytime soon, so as an industry, we might as well seize this moment as an opportunity to innovate and adapt. “

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Lorne Tanz, a broker at Slavens & Associates Real Estate Inc., echoes a similar song, saying that in the post-COVID-19 world, he thinks virtual tours will be an integral way for sellers to showcase their properties, even once the social distancing restrictions are relaxed.

“Previously, buyers could see between 10 and 20 carefully selected photos of a property before deciding whether or not to see it in person. Due to the current physical presentation limits of a house, we are now seeing a significant increase in 3D visits. Buyers can practically “walk through” a property and have a much better perspective on size, flow and sightlines, “said Tanz.

“My clients have found these visits to be extremely useful when reviewing properties and I anticipate that more agents will continue to use this technology.”

Even after the “curve is flattened” in Toronto, the need to put in place appropriate guidelines to ensure that there will not be another spike in the coming months will remain. And without those guidelines, Tanz says he thinks the open days will be “nonexistent.”

“An innovative way to showcase a property is to organize free self-guided tours. Prospective buyers can connect to a feed via Facebook, Instagram, ZOOM, etc., and get an in-depth visit with a listing agent while interacting and asking important questions about the house. It is certainly a practice that I will continue to use, “said Tanz.

“While there is no real substitute for seeing a property in person, the real estate industry will continue to go virtual and adopt new ways to market and visualize properties.”

READ: COVID-19 could have a major impact on first-time home buyers

Shaun Denis, CEO of Umber Realty Inc., says he sees the pandemic changing the industry to be more innovative, with virtual reality, electronic signatures, zoom calls and virtual open houses acting like a few key elements of technology already at work as the vanguard of this change.

Denis says the pandemic will not only change the industry for agents, but also for brokerages. “At Umber, we have stopped using checks completely and all money is now exchanged electronically. This is something that we have been striving to change for years, but it is now forcing other brokerages to change. “

“Real estate associations and boards at all levels in Canada have also adapted or changed in one way or another,” said Denis. For example, now that there has been a complete cessation of open days, Denis says that CREA and local councils have now set up a data field on MLS which allows consumers to connect to open houses by agent-led.

For the future, Denis believes that the real estate industry will be divided into “two camps”. “In the first camp, you will have agents who will return to the way they traditionally did business. The second group of agents will notice the benefits of using the technology and apply it to their real estate activities. “

READ: Home prices in Canada could drop 5% due to coronavirus: report

As the broad consensus sees the real estate industry evolving to be more technology-focused, Matthew Cracower, a broker with Forest Hill Real Estate Inc., says he sees how projections and open houses are likely to change.

“I can see it is limited to two people at a time, but if the groups take the proper precautions to take turns visiting the house, I see suggested procedures put in place,” says Cracower. “But I do not expect strict statutes or the application of this procedure, unless there are many who ignore these suggested procedures. “

Although the end of COVID-19 is not necessarily in sight, if history has taught us anything, it is that the Toronto real estate industry has recovered from grim economic days.

And it will probably be again.


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