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Life, and real estate, goes on in these times

Blog by Robert Matthews | July 22nd, 2020

Some aspects of Greater Vancouver’s real estate market have been incredibly active over the past couple of months. My May/June listings had strong demand, with multiple offers on all. The majority of action throughout the region was with relatively affordable and otherwise desirable properties in any given area. As discussed in previous newsletters, many variables are always at play, whether it's price, location, uniqueness, or a whole host of other factors. I'd have to say that the June sales numbers were enhanced by pent up demand created by the lockdown earlier this year, coupled with a continued low inventory of listings. People need to buy and sell for many reasons, and many saw June as a time to get on it. With so many variables and unknowns still ahead of us, if you’re considering a move – whether buying or selling – I'd suggest sooner rather than later.

The sales process in the time of Covid-19

My listings during the past few months have been presented with full COVID-19 safety protocols, as will all my fall and winter listings:

  • Providing full information to potential buyers prior to viewing: A full complement of photos; a professionally measured floorplan; a “Matterport” video tour that lets the viewer move throughout the house and swivel to view all angles.

  • Qualifying potential buyers as much as possible prior to visiting the home (e.g. ensuring they've done a drive-by and, for condos, reviewed strata documents; checking that they're financially pre-qualified).

  • Home visits by appointment only.

  • Having all visitors to the home use masks, booties, and hand sanitizer on entry, with no touching (doors and some cupboards left open).

This spring the traditional "Open House" was highly discouraged by various authorities. In fact, the ability to post an Open House was deleted from the Realtor's MLS system for several weeks. With continuing Covid-19 concerns, I can't see Open Houses ramping up again as we move through summer and head into fall.

Some home sellers may think the demise of Open Houses will hurt their sales process. Not at all! I as well as most of my Realtor colleagues have embraced the process of more controlled showings by appointment only; truly qualifying buyers; and having buyers qualify themselves prior to stepping foot in a home. As of now, Open House restrictions have been relaxed somewhat; however the accompanying onerous safety procedures are just not realistically workable. I think we may be seeing a new normal for the viewing homes on the market. I have fully embraced this, and feel that if done properly it's beneficial to all involved. The advantages can more than outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

Thinking of buying? Be prepared!

I can’t stress enough for potential buyers – and sellers planning to buy after selling – to get their financial ducks in row. This means working closely with your bank or mortgage broker now, before you actively begin your search for a new home. It's actually best to do this prior to listing your current home so you fully understand what you're able to do post-sale.

Forward all required documentation to your bank or broker, and let them work through the process. The mortgage market has changed considerably over the past few months, with stricter qualification requirements than we've seen in years. There may be some tricky surprises in store for you during the qualification/re-financing process. Additionally, you don't want to unnecessarily limit yourself, nor do you want to spend time and energy looking beyond what you're financially capable of by not knowing the true reality of what's possible. It's really in your best interests to know where you stand, be as qualified as possible, and to be ready to act confidently when the perfect home presents itself.

If you’re thinking of selling or buying this fall, contact me anytime to discuss strategy and timing. It’s never too early! We want to ensure your home is fully prepared and ready to go prior to its first day on the market. Whether or not you've actually decided to sell, consider sprucing up your place this summer, just in case. A fresh coat of paint, de-cluttering, maybe fresh appliances, a yard tidy-up, a minor landscape upgrade. If a condo, consider suggesting improvements to the strata. Sometimes a little tinker at the entrance to a building can make a world of a difference. By doing a few things now in these summer days you'll be ready to go if  you wish to sell; if staying put, you’ll have a lovely freshened home to enjoy this fall and winter.