Let's Talk About It. COVID.

Things have been rough this year, no doubt.

Having to be at home I’ve not been able to meet people and cultivate the relationship I’ve had the great fortune of developing over the years with some of the best of friends, colleagues and clients.

I know everyone has their story about this year that I’m sure generations will hear down the road.

But if you’d care to indulge, here is mine.

This year, for me and my business, started better than most. When I would meet prospective clients, past clients, friends or family I would rave about how the market has picked up. Inventory was lower and there was some glimpse of the O&G sector normalizing. The year started strong. The first quarter for me was one of the bests I had experienced.

I would often joke with my clients that in the 5 years working in real estate, I’ve never seen a stronger year than the last. In 5 years! But 2020 had that potential.

Then March happened.

A complete and utter shutdown of everything. The very lifeblood of not only my business but the business of 5,000 or so of my colleagues has been sucked dry. Without meeting and interacting with others, there is no way for us to meet clients and facilitate a transaction of purchase or sale.

If you aren’t aware, in real estate, the agents are the last party to be paid for a sale or purchase of a home. Only if funds are remaining and depending on the possession date, it can take usually up to 2 weeks for a resale property for us to be paid (for a new build, it’s usually when the home is complete).

So going into March and April, with the first quarter being a good one for me, we were okay. But if you cannot work in March or April, the paychecks stop in May, June and July.

When working with a buyer it can take a few months to as long as a year for them to purchase their home. During this time, we invest the time to ensure they have the absolute best representation available.

These viewings also stopped.

March and April are our strongest months in real estate and the time where we earn a good amount of our income in sales. With these months removed, it's been a difficult recovery.

But when the interest rates were slashed, the market had seen a revival of interest. More and more buyers decided to take advantage and purchase homes. With sellers not too keen on having their home open for the pandemic to spread, inventory declined.

In any other situation, these are ideal circumstances to allow our real estate market to grow.

But our market, the industry and our businesses are very fragile. Any opinion one way or another by a government body or a bank can significantly affect many of us that work in the industry. For example, CMHC forecasting a 9% drop in values. This spooked sellers. Lockdowns are another thing that will scare off any buyer.

Yes, realtors are a big part of this industry but so are lawyers, inspectors, photographers, marketers, mortgage specialists and brokers, builders, etc.

With the introduction of these new restrictions, although our approach has not changed much, the consumer confidence lowers and fewer buyers will purchase.

This just happened to me yesterday evening. My client had a pre-approval complete and after a year of searching, we found the property. We entered into a negotiation of purchase and because of the new restrictions, his employer’s leadership decided to have a town hall with the entire company.

Although this might not be anything, I’ve been there and this can be spooky for employees.

So with that, he decided to pull his offer back and now does not want to purchase. After a year of searching.

And of course, my client is in his full right to do this. If I were him I would do the same. But being the agent in this type of scenario is so much harder to deal with. We want our clients to be in the best positioning for their home and their investments. But to start again to find another buyer, work with them to find their next home is difficult to do when you are working with one hand tied behind your back. I’m sure for most in our industry depending on a single sale goes much further now. As independent contractors, we don’t qualify for EI and were not given the same immediate relief that others were given back in March and April.

I know as realtors we are considered a commodity to the public. There are many of us and sometimes our value isn’t presented to the public. However, regardless of how you feel about us and all the other professionals in our industry, we are still dealing with the pandemic the same as anyone else and we are just trying to care for our families at the end of the day.

Going into the holiday season, prior to the lockdown we are seeing showings decline once again. The hope is that the interest rates remain low, a vaccine is introduced to our country and a distribution plan is available to allow us all to get back to some kind of a normal.

I know this one is a bit longer. My apologies. It’s something close to home for me and I hope this sheds some light on how things are from our perspective.

Thank you once again for your time. I truly appreciate it.

- Aly

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