Social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines are certainly slowing the real estate market across Canada, although the extent remains to be seen. However, the need for safe and affordable housing hasn’t stopped and real estate transactions must continue.
If you are in the market to buy real estate, how can you respect social distancing recommendations while still doing your due diligence? In this post, we’ll look at the current recommendations of public health authorities and best practices for real estate showings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State of the COVID-19 Real Estate Market: An Early Look
Bank analyst Robert Hogue expects home resales could fall 30% this year. In a report for RBC, he wrote, “Canada’s housing market will slow to a crawl this spring as Canadians follow social distancing orders in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Even so, some were already committed to moving this year. There are countless reasons this could still be a necessity—relocating closer to family, moving nearer medical supports, kids relocating for post-secondary education, accessibility issues, and more.
It is important to note that Open Houses are currently prohibited, by order of the Province of Ontario.
However, you may still view available properties. Let’s have a look at how you can do so as safely as possible, given the current COVID-19 situation.
Tips for Real Estate Showings During the Coronavirus Pandemic
1. Look for the waiver.
Sutton Realty has provided us a screening waiver to help ensure that real estate buyers have not traveled out of the country within the last 14 days, have not been exposed to Coronavirus-positive people, and are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
It is critical that each of us respect these guidelines and stay home for 14 days of self-isolation if we may have the infection.
2. Bring hand sanitizer, not gloves.
Constant hand washing and sanitizing is the new normal. However, wearing gloves is not recommended. This may be a confusing directive, as the advice around gloves has changed. However, the current best practice is not to wear them, as they can not only provide a false sense of security but actually help spread germs.
As respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta explained on CBC:
“I do see people wearing surgical gloves on the street and my patients have asked me: ‘Should I be doing this?’ And my answer has always been, ‘No.’ The reasons for that is that I think people are wearing these gloves for the wrong reasons.”
Dr. Gupta explains that Coronavirus does not enter our bodies through our hands. In fact, our skin is a better barrier against viruses than gloves. COVID-19 enters our body through mucous membranes—the eyes, nose, and mouth. On average, we touch our face about twenty times per hour.
Wearing gloves doesn’t change that.
Gloves are meant for a single interaction and are not designed for prolonged use. If you really want to control your hands and prevent touching your face, Dr. Gupta recommends that you put your hands in your pockets and leave them there.
This is a great practice for a real estate viewing. As your realtor, I am happy to open the doors and turn on the lights for you. We will maintain the recommended distance from one another throughout the showing, and I advise that you do not touch any surfaces in the property you are viewing.
Sanitizing your hands is not a substitution for regular handwashing, but can help eliminate any viral contaminants when soap and water are not available. Bring sanitizer as you attend viewings, and keep your hands in your pockets!
3. Wear a non-medical fabric mask.
This is another topic that has caused a great deal of confusion, as the recommendations have changed. However, as we learn more about how Coronavirus is transmitted, we should be prepared to adapt to new information.
As of April 6, 2020, Canada’s chief public health officer recommends the use of non-medical masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It is important to understand that homemade fabric masks do not protect you against COVID-19. What a non-medical mask does is it captures the microdroplets of moisture we expel in our breath and by coughing or sneezing, which keeps germs out of the air and off surfaces.
Wearing a non-medical mask is not a substitute for physical distancing. During your real estate viewing, I will wear a mask and ask that you do, as well. This will help not only protect you and I, but reduce any potential transmission of germs we may be carrying to the surfaces in the home, as well.
This resource from Refinery29 contains some great tips on which fabrics to use, how to care for your homemade masks, and other best practices.
4. Make good use of online real estate tools.
I think face-to-face communications are extremely important—it’s how I’ve always run my business. Believe me when I say that I completely understand the frustrations and uneasiness some have around technology. Often, it’s so much easier to simply pick up the phone or meet for a coffee.
I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to browse listings, search for specific types of properties, estimate your mortgage eligibility, and more using online tools:
- BillMcFarlane.ca includes all Grey and Bruce listings from Realtor.ca, not only my own listings. You can see ALL properties available locally here.
- I am still providing a free home evaluation to those interested in selling. We will practice physical distancing and follow the best practices recommended by public health officials throughout the evaluation. You can request your free home evaluation online.
- You can use the Mortgage Calculator here to estimate your mortgage payments for a new purchase or in case you are looking to refinance your home.
- You can reach me anytime through this contact form on the website, by email at email@example.com, or by phone at (519) 377-7627.
5. If you’re sick, stay home.
In days past, it was just the polite thing to do. Given the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, staying home if you have even an inkling that you may be exposed it critical.
Remember, too, that community transmission is occurring even without symptoms. If there is any chance you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you must stay home and completely isolate for at least 14 days.
More Helpful Resources for Buying & Selling Property During COVID-19
The Coronavirus pandemic is causing a great deal of stress and uncertainty for so many. It is my sincere hope for every one of you that we get through this together and come out a stronger community on the other side.
You can reduce at least some of the stress by avoiding too much media intake. Limit your news consumption to specific times of the day, and go straight to the source whenever possible for the most accurate and up-to-date information:
- Coronavirus updates from the Government of Canada are here
- COVID-19 updates from the Province of Ontario appear here
You’ll find more helpful real estate resources on this site, including:
- Real Estate Tips for Buyers
- Real Estate Tips for Sellers
- Tips for buying an investment property
- Information on how a realtor helps
- Everything you need to know about the cost of buying a home
The content on this web site is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or other professional advice. Users of this web site are advised to seek specific professional advice by contacting qualified counsel. BillMcFarlane.ca does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on this web site. The articles published on this web site are current as of their original date of publication, but should not be relied upon as accurate, timely or fit for any particular purpose.