How is the real estate industry responding to coronavirus? Info is all here

While the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is gripping people’s attention these days, the local real estate market is continuing to move along as activity in the MLS market has not ground to a halt.

In fact, so far in March, Calgary’s resale housing market has defied what most people thought would happen and in fact MLS sales are at a higher level than what they were a year ago – even with the pandemic.

According to data on the Calgary Real Estate Board website, MLS sales in the market are rising while the average time to sell a home has fallen.

As of March 18, MLS sales of 808 are up 7.45 per cent from the same period a year ago. Pending sales of 69 are also up 1.47 per cent year-over-year.

The average number of days for a home to sell on the market has fallen by 17.19 per cent to 53 today from 64 days a year ago.

The average MLS sale price so far in March of $458,908 has dropped by 2.13 per cent while the median price of $410,000 has fallen by 1.86 per cent.

New listings on the market have increased by 5.53 per cent to
1,831 while active listings are down 5.0 per cent to 6,083.

There is no doubt modern technology has helped as buyers and sellers can use the technology at their disposal to market their properties and view properties they are interested in buying.

“Under these current circumstances, we understand that it is not business as usual,” says CREB in a message on its website to Calgarians.

“CREB® continues to take precautions in making sure its REALTORS® and the public they serve remain healthy and safe. The well-being of the public and our members remains our top priority.

“We want to assure you that we’ve taken numerous precautions to keep our members informed with how to serve clients in this difficult time.

“CREB® is following the recommendations and actions as set out by Alberta Health Services (AHS), Alberta Health and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). We have engaged our members and staff with information, resources and a response plan regarding the virus.

“CREB® and its 5,500 REALTORS® appreciate your understanding and support. We encourage housing consumers to reach out to their REALTOR® during this period of uncertainty to create a personalized plan of action that works for you.”

In a message to real estate boards across the country, the Canadian Real Estate Association said if members and their clients feel they must host an open house, they should consider the following recommendations:

  • request visitors wash their hands with soap and water or disinfect with an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent alcohol;
  • use disinfecting wipes to clean commonly-shared surfaces like door handles;
  • restrict open house attendance to one group at a time;
  • ask visitors to limit physically touching items in the home;
  • refrain from greeting others with handshakes or hugs;
  • encourage clients to thoroughly clean and disinfect the house after open houses or viewings;
  • request clients or attendees to notify you if they become ill within two weeks of an open house or showing. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, communicate this with the homeowner and other attendees if possible;
  • avoid sharing items such as phones, tablets or laptops;
  • meet clients in private spaces instead of public areas such as coffee shops, coworking spaces or restaurants; and
  • encourage fellow REALTORS® to provide information via email or other digital means.

The Alberta Real Estate Association has the following note out for members in the industry.

“With a growing number of instances of COVID-19 in Alberta, there are various questions and concerns from members regarding how to proceed with their business during the pandemic. The health and safety of our members, our staff, and the public is of the utmost importance to AREA and we will continue to communicate regularly as we work to navigate through this challenging time,” it said.

“With the ever changing nature of this situation we recommend:

  • Limit face-to-face interactions wherever possible. Utilize online meeting tools such as Zoom and Skype to interact with clients;
  • Avoid open houses at this time. If it is necessary, ask all attendees to wash their hands with soap and water when they first enter. Disinfect the home after the open house;
  • Educate your clients on online tools which allow them to explore the market from the comfort of their homes;
  • Practice patience and kindness; recognizing that this is a stressful time for many and that business is not operating as usual; and
  • If you feel sick, do not interact with others. Use Alberta Health Services online assessment tool to determine your next steps.

The Real Estate Council Alberta strongly encourages consumers to talk to their real estate professionals about any concerns with COVID-19 when selling, buying, leasing, or renting property in Alberta. RECA has advised all real estate professionals and property managers in Alberta to reach out to clients during this time to discuss options during the pandemic. 

RECA said it has prepared extensive information around COVID-19 and real estate for licensed professionals, and they are prepared to answer their client’s real estate questions and concerns.

RECA has also prepared materials specifically for consumers to assist them in considering their risk tolerances associated with COVID-19 as it relates to real estate transactions, and to foster meaningful discussions with their real estate professionals to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

“COVID-19 poses different levels of risk to buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants.  Real estate solutions need to reflect individual risks. Together, real estate professionals and their clients can do their part to mitigate their individual exposure to COVID-19 and to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta,” said RECA.