Does COVID-19 mean the end of home showings?

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As the homebuying season ramps up, 4 in 5 Ontarians are concerned about in-person showings during the pandemic 

TORONTO (January 26, 2021): As the spring homebuying season approaches, real estate agents must respond to the changing needs of clients during the height of the pandemic. According to a survey by Properly, a tech-enabled Canadian real estate brokerage, nearly four in five (78%) Ontarians are concerned about health risks of people entering their home for showings during COVID-19. The number jumps for those 55+ (82%), and for those in the GTA (83%) where case numbers are the highest. 

Last spring, at the start of the pandemic, a poll by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) found that two in five Ontarians (42%) who are active in the real estate market were open to purchasing a home even if they could only view it virtually. A later survey in the U.S. by MatterPort, a company that offers 3D virtual home tours, found that 71 per cent would purchase a home sight unseen during the pandemic, up from 55 per cent pre-pandemic. 

“COVID-19 has been a catalyst for an increased use of technology that real estate agents and consumers were previously slow to adopt. Long overdue innovation has been accelerated in many industries, including real estate,” explains Anshul Ruparell, CEO, Properly. “Home showings were always disruptive for the seller, but today, having people in and out of your home poses serious safety concerns. As people are becoming more comfortable with virtual viewings and with purchasing sight unseen, the process of buying and selling is changing in ways that will long outlive the pandemic.”

Pandemic or no pandemic, Properly’s survey found that 78 per cent of Ontarians said home showings in general were just plain disruptive. Ruparell believes the industry is poised for a tech-fueled upheaval. He shares his three biggest predictions for how COVID has irrevocably changed Canada’s real estate landscape. 

1) In-Person Home Showings Will Be Few And Far Between: Virtual showings have become more popular during the pandemic, and like so much else that’s gone virtual, they’re expected to stay that way. With 42 per cent of Ontarians willing to consider purchasing a home sight unseen, expect to see only the most interested buyers going into homes — rather than every tire-kicker or curious neighbour.

2) People Will Move Before They List Their Home: Properly is Canada’s only service that allows homeowners to unlock equity in their old home before even listing it in order to finance their new one. This eliminates the difficult task of aligning sale and purchase dates, as well as the financial burden of carrying two mortgages. And in the rare case that a home doesn’t sell on the market, Properly will buy it directly, which means that homebuyers can take advantage of all the market upside with none of the risk. Moving before listing offers another advantage: you’ll be gone before the showings even take place. Goodbye house showings, hello (virtual) housewarmings.

3) The Role of the Agent As We Know It Will Change. As the pandemic turns the industry on its head, it will be up to agents to make the buying and selling process smoother and safer, not only by finding ways to minimize face-to-face contact, but by providing new value to their clients. Examples include making it commonplace to cover home staging and cleaning services, short-term accommodation to avoid living through showings, temporary storage costs, or the coordination of loans for home repairs. The status quo will no longer suffice — expect to see Canadians demanding more safety, direction, and support from their real estate agents, in the COVID era and beyond.

About Properly:

Properly is a Canadian tech-enabled real estate brokerage transforming the home buying and selling experience as the only service in Canada that helps homeowners to buy before they sell. Properly launched in 2018 with the goal of making real estate customer centric. The company is headquartered in Toronto. To learn more, visit www.properly.ca.

About the Survey:

These are the findings of a study/survey conducted by Properly from Nov 20 to 23 with a representative sample of 804 online Ontarians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.

About Angus Reid Forum surveys:

The precision of Angus Reid Forum online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5% percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About the Angus Reid Forum:

The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.