8 days after writing the first chronical entry, the world has changed. It feels like it happens almost hourly, doesn’t it? In real estate, agents are no longer “busier than ever” and, they are (hopefully) not doing any more physical open houses. And here is this weeks’ corker – real estate agents have been listed as an “essential service.” Say, what? We are suddenly essential?
A strongly worded message yesterday from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) yesterday helped to clarify. Here is what they said:
“It does NOT mean business as usual.
ALL REALTORS® should stop face-to-face business, including open houses, in-person showings, and maintaining agents and public office hours.
The Government gave the “essential” label to real estate to permit transactions to close – NOT to allow our Members to carry on with normal business practices during a crisis.
All Members should be moving to remote work – full stop.”
In New York, it is now legislated that real estate salespeople are now only able to work from home, cannot do any showings, no in-person listing presentations, no open houses or even make any unsolicited phone calls. Well, thank heavens for that! How tacky that would be. I suspect we’ll see similar legislation here in short order and I would whole-heartedly support that.
This is a tough time to wade through many varied moving targets. We have many situations where people have sold and need to buy or rent. There are marital splits, estates waiting for a settlement, job transfers and many reasons why people are frantic to list or buy. It’s so hard to come up with solutions on the fly but that is what everyone is having to do.
For sellers, do you really want strangers in your house who may or may not be ill? Touching your door handles, cabinet knobs, taps, counters and walls?
For buyers, do you want to be exposed to those same surfaces in a house where you know nothing about the owners or others who may have been through? Those are obvious points but there is more.
Photographers, home stagers and home inspectors are not deemed as essential services and are out of the loop for now. What about selling your home only to have the buyer default on the closing date because the bank withdrew their mortgage commitment after the buyer lost their job? Or the appraised value of the house was revised? What if the mover can’t come or gets sick? There are so, so many variables and channels involved in any real estate deal. It is just not secure to be buying or selling right now in most cases.
Right now, real estate agents and brokerages are working on Schedules, contracts and policies to protect our clients in every way we can imagine. We are helping to navigate existing transactions through to a successful closing. We are speaking to our clients who are scared, who have questions and who need support and guidance.
I truly believe that while there will be economic restructuring and dislocation (that may be an understatement) there will be a huge and strong real estate resurgence when this is over. There is so much pent up demand building and real estate is one of the major leaders in the economy. It’s going to come down to timing it right so while you wait, get yourself ready.
- Buyers should do everything possible to keep their credit scores strong during this crisis.
- Sellers can use this time to do repairs, painting and decluttering so their homes can be ready quickly. Many home stagers are offering virtual staging services that can suggest improvements needed.
- EVERYONE can be kind. Try to be patient with one another. Oh, and in case you didn’t hear it, WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS!
Marg Scheben-Edey is a Broker with RE/MAX four seasons realty limited, Brokerage in beautiful Collingwood, ON. With three decades of experience, Marg is a leader in the local real estate marketplace and is ready to help guide both Buyers and Sellers in achieving their real estate goals. Email Marg