It’s an uncertain time for many. Amid the coronavirus crisis, borders have shut, flights have been downed and workplaces around the world are learning to adapt to empty desks as employees work from home. This week was so different from the last, and as new information flows in every minute, businesses have their eyes fixed on the market, attempting to predict what is still to come. It’s no different for Canada’s local real estate industry.
“Every hour is different. Last week, we sold two of our listings with bully offers well above list [price], every single property sold this year sold above list,” said Josie Stern, a sales representative with Sutton Group-Associated Realty’s Josie Stern Team. “In the last week, we thought this would be the last ‘hurrah’, because obviously [things] are changing, a changing world.”
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Stern recently listed and sold a two-storey detached home in York’s Humewood community, 34 Kenwood Avenue. In excellent condition, with enough parking for three cars, and located a short walk from St. Clair Avenue West, the three-bedroom home didn’t last long on the market. Listed at $1,029,000, the property sold for $1,361,000 — $332,000 over asking — in less than a week after 71 showings and 10 offers, all of which were priced high.
“That area is still in very high demand,” said Stern. “It is getting more and more challenging getting people in the door, and so we have to adapt.”
A day after 34 Kenwood Avenue hit the market, listed on Tuesday, March 10th, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Stern was still seeing a steady level of activity when she sold 34 Kentwood Avenue, following a prosperous level of sales that had been maintained since January. As of Monday, she says that the market hasn’t really changed, but the coming weeks could be a turning point as people are strongly encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing.
“Right now the market is in flux. We don’t really know what is happening or what is going on,” said Stern. “It’s as new to us as it is to everybody else. I guess you have to adapt to new ways of selling houses and condos with the people that have to move.”
As Stern explains, people still need to move, buy and sell homes. Social distancing places limitations on how real estate business is usually handled, through traditional methods like open houses and in-person offer presentations, but agents will have to change their ways.
“There are people who still want to go into the homes,” said Stern. “We’re very clear and very specific about social distancing, about using sanitisers, not to touch anything, keeping your distance, only one group at a time. But that limits you, so we are using a lot of electronic media.”
In addition to reaching out to her extensive network of buyers and sharing ideas with other professionals, Stern is also focused on keeping her clients calm and supported in their housing decisions during this time.
“The client obviously comes first, and trying to keep everyone healthy and adhere to social distancing. It’s a juggling act,” she said.