We have been focused lately on giving you the big picture view of real estate.  The forest, if you will.  Now, let’s look at the trees.  No more talk about economic indicators, bond rates, government policies and the implications on real estate.  This is what it’s like right now in real estate in Toronto.

Sellers are NOT panicking.

On March 24, 2020, we had a meeting of top Realtors in our brokerage.  We met via a zoom call and had 30 agents talk for an hour about what’s going on in the market.  We discussed many things, including one specific question.

“Are you seeing properties selling for huge discounts right now?”

The answer was a unanimous “No.”

While it is a challenging time to sell a property, this is not the buying opportunity some media stories are trying to push.

When we look at sales for the week of Monday, March 23rd to Friday, March 27th, 2020, we see 74 freehold sales in Toronto.  The average length of time on market was 9 days and the average sale to list price was 107%.  That is not a market where properties are sitting for weeks and months and sellers panic and accept low-ball offers.  It just isn’t happening.

Showings are hard to arrange.

There is no question that it is a challenging time to arrange to see properties.  Buyers are somewhat nervous about going out and meeting their Realtor and then walking through a stranger’s home.

Sellers are downright scared about people they don’t know walking through their home.  The closest analogy is if you’ve ever walked into your home after you’ve been robbed.  Suddenly, your familiar, safe and known environment is shattered.  Sellers now are very concerned that a showing could have let someone with COVID-19 into their home and they don’t know whether healthy habits were followed as the buyers walked around the home.  Our brokerage has implemented policies to help make sure showing agents for our listings are following good practices but it is still quite unnerving for sellers, particularly those that are elderly or have weakened immune systems.

We are seeing severely limited showings in many cases, with a strong emphasis on virtual tours and photography unless the buyer is very serious about potentially putting in an offer.  If the property being sold is a condo, many condo buildings have fully stopped permitting showings.  Just within our brokerage, we have a current list of 13 buildings that are not allowing realtors to show properties in the building.

On the rental side, tenants are starting to refuse showings as a matter of health and safety.  The thoughts I’ve read on this from lawyers indicates that this is legal, as the lease they signed or the Landlord and Tenant Act does not supercede their rights under the charter.

Deals are closing.

While it is a challenging time to buy and sell real estate, make no mistake – people are still buying and selling real estate.

We see new listings go up and we have agents acting on both sides to help their clients move forward.

Within the Refined Team, we’ve had two deals close successfully this week and one scheduled for next week that is looking good.

At the same time, we are seeing an exaggerated version of what is always true in real estate – motivated buyers and sellers get deals done.

The deals that are not closing, that are not going firm at the end of the conditional period, or that are not having buyers provide the deposit the day after signing the deal – these are largely involving people who did not NEED to buy or sell.

It is a challenging time to buy and sell real estate.  The reason Realtors are still working is because it was deemed an essential service by the Government of Ontario.

Every day, there are people who absolutely need to buy or sell real estate.  Jobs are lost, babies are born, marriages fall apart, families grow.  Housing that is suitable to your situation is often not something that can wait for the perfect situation.  Ask anyone who has been looking to buy in the GTA in the past ten years if when they bought was perfect and you’ll likely give them a much needed laugh!

Just like all aspects of life right now, the question that needs to be asked is whether this is something that absolutely needs to happen now.  If buying or selling can be postponed without huge impact, waiting is the right thing to do.  If your situation means you don’t have much choice in the matter, then get in touch with us so that we can safely, smartly and successfully make it happen.