It’s clear that selling a home during the pandemic is extremely challenging as social distance measures are in place and buyers want to hold off until things are back to normal again. The general advice we have heard from real estate agents is that sellers should only sell right now if they are in a situation where they absolutely have to. To help urgent sellers navigate the increasingly uncertain real estate market, we gathered advice from 4 real estate agents in Ontario to get them to respond to questions that sellers have when thinking about putting their home on the market. Here is what they had to say about each question:
How are you helping clients sell homes during the pandemic?
“I have been utilizing a LOT of visual aids during this market and with 21 years in the business, it is great to know so many realtors in my area that I can chat with and reach out to on behalf of my buyers/sellers.”
“Advising them about the market conditions.
Full virtual tour, best in the market.
Guaranteeing the sale of seller’s home
Offering home sanitization for home purchases.”
“In general, I am simply continuing to make myself available to them. Sometimes it's just nice to talk things through with a local expert. Many news articles are written at the national level and focus on the mega markets like TO and BC. While the winds of change are certainly blowing, that does not mean that the market is flat out crashing. In fact, prices so far have actually continued to rise as demand remains high and inventory continues to be constrained.”
“First and foremost, we have recommended most clients to NOT list at this time unless they have to sell, as you likely won’t be getting the best price as less buyers are looking. In the case of people that have to sell, we are offering virtual tour. Either they do a video tour, or I ask them to leave the house and I come in with mask and gloves and take a video tour of the house myself. I have one client I am doing this for next week.”
How are you ensuring the safety of clients when viewing homes?
“I am making sure that all realtors and their buyers have been properly screened, setting up strict protocol for showings and having conversations with every real estate agent to ensure we are all working in the clients' best interests.”
“I have a complete list of protocols.”
“This begins with a basic risk assessment with the clients who are looking to buy. If they are not comfortable physically viewing a property then I am able to walk them through the house via FaceTime or similar video chat applications and we can insert special clauses and conditions in their offer that mitigate risk. If they are comfortable with physical showings, then I try to encourage them to meet me at my office first assuming they are asymptomatic and have not travelled recently. At my office we have Zoono 24-hour hand sanitizer dispensers. Zoono is a product that is somewhat like an invisible glove. The nice thing about this invisible glove though is it actually destroys bacteria and viruses mechanically at the molecular level. Think of it like wearing gloves that are covered in pins and needles. The virus is like a balloon, when it comes in contact with Zoono it is more or less popped and destroyed on contact. It is extremely hard to get a hold of lately but we’ve been able to keep it stocked so far.”
“Again in most cases we are telling clients to hold off buying during this time if they can as we don’t know how long this will last or the affects it will have on the market. I am suggesting most buyers that are not yet in the market to hold off until this blows over. For those that have to buy we are asking real estate agents to provide a video tour either professionally or by cell phone, then with any offers we are making we have specific COVID-19 clauses added to the agreement to protect our clients in case of delays or in ability to close due to closures or bank delays due to COVID-19. If and only if the conditional deal gets accepted, we will do a viewing. I will enter the house first with mask and gloves and will not touch anything but the front door handle. Once I have left the house my clients can enter and view the house.”
What tools or new services are you offering to show homes these days?
“I have been offering video walkthroughs as well as the normal pictures and virtual tours. I also have disposable gloves, wipes and hand sanitizers, which are to be used by all parties. Offers and listings I have been completing with Docusign, which is not something new but maybe used more often now.”
“Live virtual tours and showings. If a seller is able to live elsewhere while their home is on the market, I will sanitize it prior to them moving back. If a buyer buys, I will sanitize all of their belongings and their new home prior to them moving in.”
“In addition to what I mentioned above some additional services that I offer in light of this situation is increased digital marketing. While I have always included professional photography and video walkthroughs in my listing packages I am now offering additional products like 3D tours via Matterport which uses a special 360 degree camera and software program to create an entire 3D dollhouse like version of the house which allows you to see every inch of the property. I am also offering virtual listing consultations in place of physical ones where the Seller and I do a video call and walk through the house in order for me to evaluate the homes worth.”
“We are offering video tours and video chats with clients, either over FaceTime or Whatsapp. I am also offering delivery service for agents with health risks needing deposit cheque’s, for sales signs installed, etc.“
Are you recommending your clients to postpone listing their home for sale?
“I am explaining all of the potential risks and things that we can do to minimize those risks and depending upon the individuals real estate needs, some are listing/purchasing now and some have opted to wait until they feel more secure in the market. Either way, I am staying in touch and keeping my clients "in the loop" on the current market trends.”
“Absolutely! I am advising all of my clients to postpone their purchase and their list if possible.
I believe it is the safest for everyone and the best way to support our community’s vulnerable and healthcare professionals who don’t have a choice. If it is imperative to buy or sell, I have lots of ways to reduce the risk. There are WAY less showings right now.”
“In terms of what I am recommending to my clients, I do not believe that this is the best time to put your house on the market. That being said no two situations are the same and my advice will vary depending on the circumstance of the individual and the type of property they need to sell. If selling is not a choice, it's not a bad time to sell in terms of market conditions…inventory remains very constrained yet the demand has not faded as fast as many believe. Demand remains high especially in the under 500K market. Prices have continued to rise so far, though I am expecting things to start to level off over the next 30-90 days. This is a fabulous time to buy assuming you are in a financially comfortable situation.
There is reduced completion right now and many of my clients that were losing by 50k-100K+ in bidding wars a few months ago have now scooped up homes at asking or sometimes under asking which has proven to be extremely difficult over the last 4 years. I am also forecasting a vengeful rebound once we begin to get back to a more normal state of affairs. I firmly believe that Q2 will be record lows in terms of units sold but that average prices will at worst case hold and not fall below last year's averages. I am anticipating a record setting Q3/Q4 assuming that the State of Emergency protocols are lifted. I also believe that average prices in London will remain above 450K through January 2021. In conclusion it's going to be a bumpy ride and things will be different but the housing market, in London at least, will continue to be in high demand as it's still undervalued in comparison to similar markets closer to the GTA that have much higher average prices.”
“Yes very much so. My fiancée and I are flipping a house in Niagara right now and we are holding off selling for up to a year, our recommendation is to sell only if you have to sell right now. With that said, now is a perfect time to clean up the house and get any small renovations or paint touches done if you planning to sell in the next 12 months."