According to an article written by Zolo in 2021: “The COVID-19 pandemic not only affected how Canadians spend it also impacted what they bought. Now, after 18 months of restrictions and life-on-hold, Canadians are ready to get back into life. And that includes post-pandemic spending.”
Like many industries, COVID impacts the way the real estate business is run, whether you’re buying a detached home, townhome or condo. Let’s look at some of the changes that in some cases, are for the better from both a consumer and realtor perspective.
Real estate open houses and showings are much different
Since the beginning of COVID, real estate open houses in Guelph have not been happening. The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) banned them for over a year, just recently allowing them again. But even then, Realtors and sellers are not quite ready to jump back into the “old ways”.
From our perspective, the real estate market has moved along just fine despite not having open houses available. In many cases, open houses are tools for realtors to gain clients- not an effective way to sell a house. If a buyer is serious, they’ll make an an appointment with a realtor.
Appointment length has also changed. Pre-COVID, private appointments with your Guelph real estate agents were 60 minutes in length. Now, they’re 30 minutes in length and the number of visitors can be the immediate buyers only. We believe this is a change for the better! A buyer can easily get through a home in 30 minutes and if they want to come back for a second appointment or a pre-offer home inspection, they can do so.
In the case of a condo sale in particular, there are many changes to how you can show a condo. Common condo amenities are often off limits due to COVID restrictions.
Staging and photos play a much larger role- don’t skip these!
Pre-COVID, buyers would browse condo, townhomes and detached home listings online and if they were even mildly interested, they could show up at a weekend open house and walk through the house. Or they could make a private appointment with their Guelph real estate agent
During COVID, many people were in lockdown and visiting a home was discouraged unless you were a serious buyer. As a result, the decision to view a home was scrutinized further based on what you could see on your computer or phone. Listing photos, staging, video and floorplans are segments of the real estate listing process.
This is especially important with the growth in the condo market and the relative size of a condo. Many buyers here are either first time buyers, or those that feel they are priced out of detached homes. Condo unit floorplans (usually an add on cost for real estate agents, but very important in today’s market) allow a buyer to see the flow, along with 360-degree visuals.
Beth and Ryan do not take any photos, video or staging on their own! They source this out to the pros! If you’re interviewing Realtors, be sure to ask the Realtor for their process for professional photos and their staging (related: Staging is not just stuffing things in a linen chest!) We estimate that professional photos and staging a home add 3-5% to the sale price. Don’t go with a real estate agent who won’t do this for you!
Realtors using newer technology like Housesigma and Zolo
Some of the traditional advertising mediums came back into popularity during COVID. There are also some new players emerging. With more people at home more often (with nowhere to go during lockdown!), people were reading physical newspapers again. Print ads, which were facing declining circulation suddenly saw a rise in readership.
Social media gained in popularity as people had more time on their hands (doing nothing!). This made for a great captive audience in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and even TikTok.
People are doing more research on line as well with extra time. Real estate blogs, realtor.ca, zolo and others provided useful content for people to take in.
Canadians are Savers!
There was initial fear that with COVID, many homebuyers in Canada would be forced to sell. Or even worse, forced to sell via Power of Sale or Foreclosure. But the reality is that Canadians actually saw a declining deliquency rate according to CMHC. In fact, Guelph had a lower rate than both the Ontario and Canadian averages at just 3.8%.
Because Canadians were locked down and not spending money, they bulked up their bank accounts. They used equity to fund the purchase of a vacation property, an investment property or something for their kids.
Traditional mediums are strong in some areas; make room for new
In television, cable TV maintained it’s stronghold in the areas of local news and sports. This is amplified with consistent updates on COVID. As people were home more often and schedules became a little more flexible, CableCompare reports that late night talk shows remained strong through the pandemic. Many of these lighthearted shows were an escape from the pandemic news and provided a much needed lift. Realtors started to advertise again on local cable and radio. These mediums deliver the consistent, dedicated consumers of local cable and radio.
Additionally, CableCompare cites that more consumers were using products that worked for their schedules such as podcasts, YouTube or Twitch to get their information fix. Realtors are now advertising on Youtube with market analysis videos and more. Some of the braver real estate agents are even having a go at TikTok!
Housing apps such as HouseSigma, Redfin, Zolo and Zillow have become stronger tools, especially for millennials who are often purchasing a condo. They not only provide more detailed data than just the listing, but also provide housing trends, sale price predictions and prior sold information. Buyers find this useful when determining whether a house is “appointment worthy” to see in person.
It’s important to keep up on the trends
Expect that if you’re going to a chiropractor, that they know what they’re doing. The same if you’re getting tennis lessons. It’s no different in real estate- the Realtor you choose should be up to date on the ever-evolving real estate market. Apps like HouseSigma and Zolo are not the enemy- good realtors will use this together with their existing data to better understand their client needs.
Each week, Beth and Ryan release a new real estate blog post on trends in the market, along with a video to give a short market summary for the week. As always, if you want more information from Guelph Realtors (at no obligation!) , get in touch!