Thursday 2 April 2020

Real Estate and Covid-19

Things continue to develop very quickly in the province and across the country with the response to Covid-19. We have been asked where does that leave real estate? Are people still buying or selling properties? The short answer is - yes. However what that looks like and how it is happening is different than a couple of months ago for many.

The Province of BC has declared that real estate is an essential service during their mandated shut down of non-essential services. We know that people still need to sell or buy properties for many reasons, some more than ever now, and the required channels for this are staying available. Additionally Royal LePage Canada has asked agents across Canada to treat real estate as an essential service, unless otherwise directed by authorities (for instance, Quebec has said real estate is non-essential service) and offer as much service as possible, while respecting all health safety protocols and within personal comfort levels. 

What steps are being taken to insure all parties involved follow the correct protocol and keep everyone as safe as possible? The professional associations for real estate agents across the country are providing both their agents and the consumers guidelines and answers. In BC, the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) has created a page for consumers which can be found here. Open houses are no longer being held in person, but in some cases are being done creatively through online and virtual media. Thanks to technology, meetings with clients can happen on line (using video conferencing programs such as zoom or apps such as FaceTime, Whatsapp or Skype) and documents can even be sent and signed electronically while talking on the phone with the agent. Things may happen a little slower, as arrangements need to be made and a lot of phone calls need to happen. But business is still proceeding.

It turns out that here at BCO we've been preparing for such an event and didn't even know it. Because our sellers and buyers often come from all over and are certainly not always both near the actual property in question, we are experienced with and have in place the systems to work remotely with clients. We have done video walk-throughs of a property with our client on Facetime. We regularly send out documents to be signed via electronic means. We often send documents and photos with online storage apps. We are ready to help clients who perhaps are used to doing real estate in the residential markets, face to face, with this new reality of remote and virtual real estate. It is not ideal, but it is possible to do for those who need and/or want to buy or sell real estate now.

We don’t yet know what the impact of Covid-19 will be on the real estate industry. We do know that in the past the recreational and remote markets have reacted differently than the residential markets, in both positive and not so positive ways. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by email or phone. We wish you all health and peace during this unprecedented time of change. 

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