It's March 17, 2020 and the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is affecting daily life quite drastically.
Things are expected to get worse before they get better. In the past week, the situation has gone from "this seems like a bunch of hype" to "stay away from humans other than family/roommates unless you have good reason". There is widespread shutdown of facilities and on-site services.
In the real estate industry, there are a lot of questions from buyers like "Do I want to enter strangers' homes right now?" and "Is anyone even going to be buying anything at this time?". The answers to these are "That's up to you" and "Yes, absolutely". Homes are still selling in multiple offer scenarios (though I have certainly seen a slowdown of activity since March 9th). More on this at the bottom of this page.
How Can I Help as a REALTOR®?
I am offering my services to anyone who is interested in purchasing real estate in the Nanaimo area, but who is concerned about traveling or meeting in person.
Let me be your boots on the ground. I am experienced at taking USEFUL video of properties and buildings, getting up close to focus on features AND defects. When I represent you as a buyer, I am not making "a nice promotional video". Instead, I am letting you see the property without visiting it in person. My remote buyers consistently say that my videos are much more useful than the videos provided by the seller's agent! I can also use FaceTime for a more customized viewing experience.
Do I expect people to purchase a property based on a video? Only sometimes. I have sold numerous properties to buyers who only saw my videos - you can imagine how nervous I was when they met me at the property for the first time to pick up the keys! But so far, so good - the properties are always better in person, since the videos don't capture wide-angled spaces, airy atmospheres, etc.
There are lots of reasons why someone would need remote real estate services like this - whether it's the coronavirus, an inability to travel, or maybe you just need to act quickly and don't have the ability to get here quickly enough - I am happy to provide a professional experience in which you know as much as possible about a property you can't visit in person.
And of course, we don't need to meet in person for you to sign offers and other paperwork. As long as you have email and internet access, you never have to get close enough to be sneezed on.
Remember, you don't pay for my services when you are the buyer. Contact me!
What Will Happen in the Real Estate Market?
Every real estate professional and investor would like to have a crystal ball right now. With the stock markets in turmoil, many people assume that the entire economy will shrink and that real estate values will therefore drop. However, the correlation never seems to be so neat'n'tidy. For example, as a region we are often less susceptible to national fluctuations in home prices.
When stock markets show volatility, people often look for safe havens for investment. Gold comes to mind, but so does real property, i.e., land and improvements. Humans need land and homes, and the value of real estate is tethered to real, tangible things like the cost of construction and the availability of useable land. And there's something about Vancouver Island that presents a particularly safe haven; we are isolated from bigger cities (apocalypse anyone?), prices are still more reasonable, we have good amenities and travel options, the prevailing winds come off the Pacific Ocean (less wildfire smoke in the summer), we are a retirement and tourism destination (jobs!) - the list goes on.
Moreover, people will always need a place to live and the laws of supply and demand continue to apply. If there are people who want to move here and they have the money to pay, then those buyers will keep our prices stable. Yes, there may be fewer people who have the money, owing to stock market losses and loss of income with industries being on hold - however, there is a feedback loop that shows up when prices fall in a destination market like Vancouver Island: People learn that we have become temporarily more affordable, and they therefore put us higher on their list of options - then there are more buyers, and the prices go up again. This is just one of several "invisible" mechanisms that I think will allow us to feel secure about real estate prices in Nanaimo and beyond.
There is likely to be a split in the market however - it's possible that the more affordable properties will see the greatest stability in prices, as we have seen in the past couple years. The higher priced homes have seen only modest gains (if at all), whereas houses and condos and mobile homes under about $600,000 have performed well relative to their higher-priced counterparts.
Summary: I think it's still a good time to buy real estate, as long as you think it will be a long game (i.e., you don't anticipate having to sell in the short term). But also - what the heck do I know?