The real impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Metro Vancouver’s real estate market remains to be seen, but like every other sector of the economy, the industry is making immediate changes.
Major personal real estate brokerages in the region are curtailing their open houses, moving more of their business online over at least the interim. As of 2019, there were approximately 13,000 real estate agents operating in Metro Vancouver.
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RE/MAX’s Vancouver office has urged its agents to limit contact with the general public, including the postponement of all open houses immediately until a future date when it is deemed to be safe. Agents should also isolate themselves and not interact with the public if they are feeling unwell.
Similarly, Sotheby’s International Realty in Canada is “strongly discouraging” open houses, but if these showings are still held, there should be hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable paper towels in the bathrooms. They are also asking property owners to clean and disinfect their home after an open house, especially commonly contacted areas such as doorknobs and faucet handles.
Dan Scarrow, president of Macdonald Real Estate Group, has indicated his firm is taking a blanket ban policy approach on open houses for the foreseeable future given growing calls for social distancing.
“We are taking this issue extremely seriously and have instituted a No Open House policy for the duration of the pandemic,” Scarrow told Daily Hive in an emailed statement.
“The current policy of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) is that they currently allow agents and their clients to make that decision, but I have been in touch with representatives from REBGV and am hopeful that they will do the right thing and suspend Open Houses for the time being.”
He says his agents reported an extremely busy open house activity this past weekend, despite the worsening crisis. But they are now seeing the start of a significant drop off.
“I have been surprised at how laissez faire large segments of our population have been about the COVID-19 pandemic, but I believe the gravity of this moment will soon become apparent to everyone,” continued Scarrow.
Due to the challenging conditions, Scarrow expects significant financial decisions to slow considerably during the short term, however, there will be a strong rebound to the market as a result of record low interest rates, a flight to safety, and a recalibration of investors risk and reward calculations.