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Realtors hoping to bounce back after big drop in sales

Realtors are hoping to make up for lost time due to the COVID-19 pandemic
BradfordToday_Spotlight Title Image_James McNeill

As the Ontario economy begins to re-open after the COVID-19 pandemic, realtors will be busy making up for lost time in the coming months. It has been a brutal stretch for home sales.

“When it first started in March, from March to April, realty had gone down 70 per cent (overall market) on average in the area,” said Marc Leroux, of Realty Networks Inc. He is also the president of the Timmins, Cochrane, and Timiskaming Districts Association of Realtors.

He said those numbers aren't uncommon for the rest of the province, noting that the Hamilton area was also down about 70 per cent.

“Into May, it was still down. Because everybody was quarantining, nobody was sure what was going on, we had a lot of restrictions in place, people didn't want to show their house, or even list their house.

“People who were looking to buy houses, weren't buying, because they weren't going anywhere. Nobody wanted to go anywhere, and its understandable.”

Leroux said the last thing realtors wanted to do was put anyone at risk.

“Especially families, and those more vulnerable. So we were very careful. We thought about the public a lot when it came to this, not only on a local level, but on a provincial wide level. That's why we weren't doing open houses.”

Realtors also had to almost completely avoid showings of multi-unit buildings.

“Like a five-unit building, and going to all the apartments with clients, it wasn't a good idea to do.”

Leroux said locally, from mid-Februrary to May is usually the busy season for realtors and home sales, as most people prefer to move during the summer months. However, that activity has been severely impacted.

But for some realtors, the pandemic hasn't been quite as tumultuous.

“One minute we're really busy, and the next, its really quiet,” said Stephanie Gagnon, Broker of Record with Claimpost Realty Ltd.

“Everything changed. We carry sanitizer with us. We make sure we wear masks. We do our best to tell the seller, just leave the lights on, we won't touch anything, we'll wipe handles down that we touch. We tell the buyers not to touch anything. Limit the exposure as much as possible,” she said.

Realty was considered an essential service throughout the pandemic, as despite the gravity of the situation, there were still some people who needed to find new homes.

“We had to adapt to the changing situation,” said Gagnon.
Casual browsers weren't a priority, as sellers only wanted serious prospects given access to their homes in hopes of limiting negative issues. Potential buyers were asked to be highly specific in what they were looking for.

However, Leroux said things are starting to pick up again in recent weeks, since Premier Doug Ford announced that most of the province, including Timmins, has moved into Phase 2 of re-opening the economy.

“This past month has been a lot better. Business is really picking up, especially in June now. People are getting out more,” he said.

“We take a lot of precautions regardless. No more than two clients going into a home. No children going into a home. Don't touch anything. Make sure you have a spray disinfectant to wipe things down. We're just being extra careful.”

Leroux said he anticipates the resurgence will extend later into the summer and even the early fall, as many prospective buyers have simply delayed their search.

“As things ease up even more and we move into Phase 3, for example, we might be able to do open houses, but its going to be a new ballgame.”

He added that open houses won't be big priority, as public safety is still the main concern. Showings by appointment will be standard.

“It's OK that its slower coming back. As long as we're careful with what we're doing now with our buyers and sellers.”

For Gagnon, she said there's still a tonne of uncertainty regarding the next few months.

“I want it to be very busy. But I don't know if a second wave is going to come, and I don't know if that's going to scare people.”

Leroux is a little more confident that things will get better.

“Our summer months usually get a little slower, but I think we're not going to have that this year,” he said. “We're going to be busy into July and August because of the postponement of three months from our spring market. Our spring market is going to jump into summer, and I think our fall market is going to remain strong.”

- Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative, Timmins Daily Press


Andrew Autio

About the Author: Andrew Autio

Andrew Autio covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initiative out of the Timmins Daily Press, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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