Real estate agents adapted to unprecedented circumstances in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, credits one of Ontario’s largest brokerages.
Scott MacPherson, VP of professional development at Right at Home Realty in Toronto, says that in acclimatising so seamlessly, brokers and agents helped usher in changes that will permanently remain part of agents’ repertoires, particularly virtual tours, which consumers took to quickly.
“Real estate is honestly a person-to-person business and agents had to rely more on tools they weren’t using before. Once open houses got suspended, they went to virtual platforms and learned how to use software like Matterport,” said MacPherson.
Bidding wars for leases, commonplace in pre-pandemic Toronto, have returned to the city’s downtown core.
“If it’s a good unit and offered at a good price, you get multiple offers on the lease,” said Scott MacPherson, VP of Professional Development at Right at Home Realty. “We see it in the core of Toronto—a one-bedroom, 700 sq ft unit or a two-bedroom, which is hard to find, and close to amenities, get multiple offers.”
MacPherson added that Mississauga’s city centre condo cluster, as well as downtown Burlington, also see bidding wars for leases. Moreover, MacPherson says that as downtown Toronto becomes more vibrant by the day, many people who fled during the onset of the pandemic are seen to be returning.
“Unlike Vaughan and other suburban cities, Barrie’s development strategy and plan has been gradual, unfolding and evolving over decades to ensure sustainable and manageable growth,” Max Maccari, broker with Right at Home Realty, Barrie branch, told NextHome.
For new home development, much of the activity is taking place in the south end of the city, where townhomes and condos are the prevalent housing type, to appeal to first-time buyers and downsizers, Maccari says.
“Barrie municipal government and employees have made excellent decisions over the years, master-planning the city’s future growth,” he says. “The new housing opportunities over the next three to seven years will be sufficient to maximize Barrie’s population targets.”
John Lusink, president of Right at Home Realty Inc., says sales remain strong at the firm’s 12 branches throughout Ontario, but the pace is less frantic than it was in February and March.
“I think fatigue has definitely set in to some extent,” he says. Typical competitions often saw 10 or 15 bidders vying for a property in the early months of 2021, he says. Now three to five buyers might submit bids on offer night in many places.
But this summer may not be as slow as usual, he adds, because the province is just coming out of lockdown and some companies are starting to open up their offices. Prices may ease off from their meteoric rise, but he expects sales will continue to be strong.
The GTA real estate market has been on fire for about a year now, but latent cooling signs that have emerged in the last couple of months should last through summer.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a repeat of last year and part of that is because of the frantic pace we’ve seen since 2020,” said John Lusink, president of Right at Home Realty. “Some of the excess demand has probably been take out of the market, and from what I can see from our Right at Home stats, which I track daily, I see a decline of new incoming deals, which is very gradual but it’s there, and it signals a combination of what you see in the media about buyer fatigue and the new stress test. As people look forward to being able to do stuff, I think you’ll see a more moderate pace throughout the summer, not a repeat of last year.”
Like many real estate markets around the world, U.S. home prices have run up during the pandemic to the point of some saying it's in bubble territory.
But the whole time and for years before, Canada has said "hold my beer" as prices rocket through the stratosphere in a number of major markets.
The situation has gotten so bad for first-time buyers that many may have given up. Ontario is home to markets with the biggest recent run-ups. A survey by Right at Home Realty found 74 per cent of younger Ontarians aged 18 to 34 say they may never be able to afford a home where they currently live.
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