I have been having many conversations in these past few weeks with clients & friends who are wondering what is happening to the real estate market. The reality is that COVID-19 has complicated the way we buy and sell real estate.  

But there are still many questions to be answered: 

What Is Happening To The Market? 
  • Stock markets are down considerably and people have seen their down payments and overall wealth decrease dramatically, which could decrease their deposits, gifted money from parents or down payments.
  • Interest rates have been lowered, allowing buyers to qualify for higher mortgages.
  • Most sellers are delaying listing their homes
  • The Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) has recommended that real estate professionals in all areas of BC cease holding open houses during the current provincial state of emergency, and restrict in-person showings. Real estate professionals should not conduct showings of properties if they are aware that someone at the property is self-isolating.

Due to these factors, as well as social distancing & the practice of staying home, we will most likely see a cooling market.

Are People Buying & Selling?
On March 26th, the provincial government announced that real estate agents are considered an essential service in BC. Being an essential service doesn’t mean business as usual.  The recognition grants REALTORS® the ability to continue to practice real estate in a socially responsible manner in strict adherence to the provincial health office’s orders.  

Overall, everyone's circumstances are different & people still need to buy and sell depending on where they are in their lives - job relocation or job loss, downsizing, end of tenancy, previous sellers who need to find a new home before their closing date - are just some reasons. 

But the question remains...

Can I Buy & Sell A House Safely Through This Pandemic?

The short answer is yes. 

While the situation changes daily, many REALTORS® are adapting our systems and using alternative approaches to in-person interactions, such as virtual showings and other technology-based solutions. Luckily, you can now do the majority of house hunting or selling - virtually. Below is a list of how I can help serve my clients in these challenging times. 

Virtual Meetings:
You may have heard of a Buyer Consultation or a Listing Appointment. These are usually the first steps in discussing agency relationships, the process, understanding potential fees and covering off much more. This is a great opportunity to meet and vet your Realtor, discuss your needs and goals and get the process started.

Virtual Showings:
As a buyer, once we have started the process I will set you up on an auto-search and will have listings that match your criteria emailed to you daily. From here we will narrow down your top picks and I will facilitate virtual showings with the listing agent, so you can enjoy a tour of a home from the safety and comfort of your living room. For listings, I still use professional photographers, floor plans & a technology called 3D Matterport – essentially virtual reality for your home. Lastly, I will host a virtual open house on my social media channels and newly on REALTOR.CA which now supports all live streaming platforms. This is where I walk through your home highlighting it in the best ways possible.  All of these services depend on how comfortable you, the seller, are to having service professionals in your homes. But rest assured that we do take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves as well as you. 

What If I Want To View "THE ONE":
It is completely understandable to want to see the home before putting in an offer. This is where we have to proceed with caution. I have checklists and waivers for buyers, checklists and waivers for sellers, and protocols in place in compliance with BC Health Services to make sure that COVID-19 exposures are minimized. This includes ensuring that the seller has not travelled in the last 14 days, does not have any symptoms or has been diagnosed positive. Furthermore, I will request that all the lights be on, interior doors open, as well as hand sanitizer, protective footwear and masks are at the door. This way you and I (while social distancing) can enter your home, have a brief tour (without touching anything) and exit the property safely.

Contracts Conducted by E-Signing:
This is a tool that has been in the realtor's tool kit for many years now, but it has never been embraced more than it is now! Through E-signing programs, I can prepare and execute contracts, and send them electronically to initiate the negotiation process.

What about Property Inspections?:
It is highly recommended to still use the services of a building inspector to review the property in question. To date, Inspectors are still moving forward with the same caution as when viewing a property. They have their own set of professional standards during this time that they adhere to. There is, however, one difference - the buyers should not be present for the inspection. If the buyer wants to be involved, they can request to be on a FaceTime call. 

Closings - Can I Still Go To My Lawyer?:
This is the one step where you technically need to be in person for the home buying or selling process, however, 
effective immediately, the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC (LTSA) is allowing remote witnessing of affidavits for land title applications during the COVID-19 pandemic. This change allows lawyers and notaries who represent parties to a property transaction to remotely witness affidavits, provided they review the Law Society of British Columbia’s directions on best practices for using video-conferencing when providing legal advice or services and incorporate a statement in the jurat of the affidavit confirming this process was used and best practices were followed.

As always, please check with your lawyer about this in advance of closings.

I reached out to North Vancouver's Paperclip Law to ask how their business practices have pivoted. Not only are they some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but they are also taking the necessary precautions for the safety of their clients. Below is their process for helping their clients with their property transactions: 

- All meetings ahead of time are done on Zoom or phone to review all the documents and answer all questions ahead of time.
- When signing they meet clients at an outdoor location to sign the 1-2 documents where they sign on a sanitized clipboard and make clients BYOP (bring your own pen).
- They are also keeping up to date with the Land Title Office and Law Society’s requirements for verification of ID and signings so if there are any further modifications they need to make, they are doing those as well to ensure there are no delays in closings.

Key Handover:
One of the last steps before moving is handing you the keys to your new home. This process is where I will meet you at the property, make sure it has been professionally cleaned, sanitized and all electrical & appliances are working properly. Once I ensure the property is up to my standards, I will lightly toss you your keys from a distance, take a quick picture and let you get on your way to settling into your new space. 

Have More Questions?
For any additional questions or comments, feel free to reach out any time & I will be happy to have a virtual coffee to discuss how I can help make your real estate goals a reality- in a safe, socially distanced kind of way.