Thoughts on Covid-19

Sooo, wow! What an intense few weeks we’ve seen, no doubt with more of the same ahead of us. Covid-19 has had a big effect on all of our lives, including the Vancouver Real Estate Market.

The Real Estate Market was really busy prior to this pandemic. A lot of units were getting multiple offers and we were about to hit the point in the year with a big increase in inventory. As you can imagine, the Real Estate Market has slowed down considerably, though there are still Sellers interested in  selling and Buyers interested in making a move. I would imagine that any Seller currently listed really wants to sell, and any Buyer still buying has job security and likely has been looking for a long time (and probably lost out on a few multiple offer scenarios recently). Housing is such an important part of everyone’s life, and Real Estate is an investment into yourself, so even if things do slow down for a few months, it never stays down. The market will keep going, albeit slower.

The Real Estate Board is not allowing any Open Houses, though private showings are still allowed and the market will continue to keep moving, albeit a lot slower. As of right now, all industries connected to the Real Estate World are allowed to keep operating: Realtors, Lawyers/Notaries, Mortgage Brokers, Movers, Land Title Office, etc so people can still buy and sell. Any sales already under contract are still obligated to proceed, though with any new contracts, Agents and their clients need to understand the potential issues we might face during this time period, which could include unexpected and required quarantines and lockdowns, unexpected changes to the financial market and possible illnesses. As with everything during this pandemic, we are re-evaluating plans on a daily basis.

We here at WeLoveEastVan are doing our best to support our clients while also ensuring we are safe and responsible. We are still working with Sellers to list, market and sell their properties, with a few specific changes to how we do business:

  • We’ll get a Matterport Virtual Tour done for each listing so Buyers can easily “walk” through the house at home in an effort to pre-qualify all Buyers prior to any in person showings.
  • We ask that all Sellers turn on all lights and blinds so that anyone visiting the house touches as little as possible.
  • We ask that the Sellers keep us updated on any changes to their health or the health of their family members. Of course, we’ll be doing the same.

For our Buyers (and for potential Buyers of any of our listings) we request the following:

  • Please review the MLS listing in full, including any associated documents such as Property Disclosure Statement, Strata Plan, Floor Plan, Video and Strata Meeting Minutes, Bylaws and Financials (if applicable)
  • Please drive by and be familiar with the location of the building.
  • Please ask questions and let us know of any deal breakers you have that can be confirmed ahead of time.
  • Please do not touch or sit on any furniture or use the bathroom during a showing.
  • Allow Realtors to open doors and turn on lights, as required.
  • Wear protective gloves or keep your hands in your pockets to avoid accidentally touching surfaces.
  • Maintain the recommended 6 ft distance from anyone not in your immediate family

If you were looking to make a move before this situation hit, what you should do is your decision. Life will return to some semblance of normal, so it’s a matter your personal and financial position, as well as how long you want to wait to make a move.

Here are a few thoughts:

 

  • The general consensus is for everyone to self quarantine as much as possible over the next 2 to 3 weeks to stop the spread of the virus, so I expect the next few month or two to be slower than normal. Although no one knows what will happen in the future, the turnaround in Asia is a positive development for everyone, as well as the news reports that a variety of temporary treatments and vaccines are in development. We are lucky to live in Canada where the spread of the virus has been limited compared to other countries.
  • The economy has been through similar drops in recent decades and history has shown that recovery, if not a stronger economy, will happen in time. The Government has done a great job thus far of supporting individuals and businesses, and we are lucky to live in a strong economy that will weather the storm. There will be hardship, especially if society is all but shutdown for a few weeks, but we have recovered from similar scenarios in the past. Certain industries will be more affected than others, but as the recession in 2008 proves, we will steadily recover.
  • In order to stimulate the economy, our Government and the Bank of Canada will likely keep interest rates on the lower end of the scale for the time being. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes in the rate, but it should stay fairly low. I can’t see the Government making any negative changes to policies (as in, changing any policies to make it harder to purchase property) anytime soon. If anything, there’s a chance they will relax lending policies to help folks recover quicker, but I wouldn’t rely on it.
  • As for prices.… the drop in the stock market will affect high net worth individuals the most, so we may see a decline in the upper end of the market. These individuals may re-focus their energy on investment properties, which is often seen as a more stable long term investment compared to the stock market. However, the focus of any investor will be specific to homes that can be rented so anything that allows rentals will have a lot more interest than buildings that do not allow rentals. First Time Buyers are always the most nervous about buying, and they have the ability to stall the market (if they don’t buy the 1 bedrooms, then the people who own 1 bedrooms can’t buy the 2 bedrooms, and those 2 bedroom owners can’t move up, etc) so once this pandemic proves to be on the upswing, I think we’ll see the market pick up again. This lack of activity will likely lead to some minor prices decreases and an overall stalling of the market – BUT – if you happen to be looking to buy a good unit in the most active Vancouver markets (the entry level detached market, entry level two bedroom, or rentable 1 bed condo market) then I would expect the activity to remain fairly steady. These units were often getting 5+, 10+, 20+ offers recently, so there are still a lot of Buyers out there even if many choose to step away from their search for the time being. I believe we’ll be in a strong, active market once this passes, so it’s a good time to take advantage of the opportunities now. Remember, if you’re buying a home to live in for 3+ years, you’ll ride out any short term changes in the market.
  • I’ve had a few Buyers postpone their search for the time being mostly due to social responsibility, but a couple have cited declines in their investment portfolio (and thus down payment) and wanting to wait to see what happens to ensure they have long term job security. Similar to any slow market (which we just went through in 2019) a lot of Buyers step out of the market for fear of what might happen, only to miss the opportunities and realize this when the market picks up again. I expect we’ll be in a slower market once things get going again, so take advantage of this time if you can! If you’re buying a unit to live in for the next 3+ years, you’ll ride out any short term market changes.

Overall, I don’t anticipate any major and long lasting, changes to the Real Estate Market. I bet that we’ll see strong activity in the market in the late Spring, throughout the Summer and into Fall (without the typical Summer slow down) to account for a few slower weeks now while everyone is trying to “stay the F home”.

Stay healthy out there everyone! I’m sitting at home like all of you, so if you’d like to chat about your specific situation and how to best navigate it – whether as a Seller, Buyer or both – send me an email or give me a call! I’m having really good conversations with clients and friends and happy to do the same for anyone who’s interested.

Kristi Holz

778-387-7371 or [email protected]