This is the second in a series I’ll be doing on the impact of COVID-19 on the Ottawa real estate market, so keep those questions coming!
Twitter pal Jenn asks: “I know it’s only been a week but do you see the market slowing (not many listing, not many buying ) Not being able to show must have a huge impact.”
There are an assumption in that question that I want to address first. There is no ban on showing listings currently; however, our brokerage has banned Open Houses and many others are following suit.
It would be reckless, in my opinion, to hold Open Houses during a pandemic: no responsible home owner or agent should allow strangers to enter their home during a time like this. The risk of infection and cross-infection would simply be too high.
As for showings, however, these are continuing but are taking place with strict precautions. Here, for example, are directions from one listing agent to agents interested in showing his new listing:
“Only the listing agent, buyer agent and two buyers are allowed to view the property. Interior showings will be limited to 30 minutes. The agent showing the property must ensure that all parties sanitize their hands or apply gloves during the viewing. Ask clients to refrain from touching any surfaces “keep hands in pockets” during the showing. Don’t use the washroom unless it is an emergency. Do not shut off the lights on exit. After closing and locking the door, sanitize or wipe down the handle, key, and lockbox. Ask clients to please notify you if they become ill within two weeks of the showing.”
Now, to your actual question: are there signs of the market slowing after the events of this week?
The number of new listings has slowed down dramatically as sellers hold off selling. Inventory was already tight, and it has tightened further.
But, there are still buyers out there who need to buy homes because they are moving to Ottawa for jobs or because they have already sold their homes, so for the moment, sales are still outpacing listings. What I am seeing, however, is a drop in the number of listings selling for well over listing price, which suggests that there are fewer multiple offer situations.
So I think we will continue to see sales outpace new listings, but not the same frenzied buying we saw up until recently.
All of this can change quickly, of course, if governments shut down non-essential businesses, as it would be hard for agents to accept new listings where we have to meet with clients to verify their identity, enter their properties to measure rooms, take pictures, etc. For now, however, the business of buying/selling homes continues: it’s just not “business as usual.”