How the real estate industry has adapted to the global crisis

Virtual open houses & more

Sarita Patel

The real estate industry has had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to social distancing and safety measures, they’ve also embraced technology to connect buyers and sellers remotely to facilitate a safe sale. 

“We’re seeing a lot of people doing Instagram live and Facebook live open houses for example, where the buyer can talk to the agent and ask them can I see that bedroom again, can you take me downstairs,” explains Jennifer Lebedoff, managing broker at Coldwell Banker Jane Hoffman Realty and managing broker and owner at Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty. 

Once a buyer is interested, they can request an in-person viewing where the agent and the client head to the location in separate cars to maintain social distancing. When they get to the home they are asked to sanitize, certain locations will ask people to put on PPE and not to use the washrooms.

A form is presented to the viewer asking them COVID-19 related questions and acknowledging the safety protocols. 

Each open house and viewing is different, as buyers and sellers may have some concerns about how they want to do a viewing. 

“Sometimes a seller will insist that people do showings with masks and gloves. Sometimes we suggest that the seller keep cupboards open, closets open to minimize touching … they’re kind of showing with their hands in their pockets and walking around.” 

She adds if a buyer wanted to see something specific, the realtor, who will be wearing gloves, will open the door to minimize the use of highly used touch points until the potential buyer is ready for the next step. 

For full inspections, professional cleaners clean afterwards.

Minimizing the number of people who are just browsing comes down to the seriousness of the buyer. 

“A good agent always likes qualified buyers because setting up a home for sale and setting up a home for showings take a lot of time and emotions for a seller. So, we always asked the tough questions to qualify buyers financially and now we do that even more.”  

Lebedoff says in the past they would advertise a sale and sometimes get eight to 10 potential buyers but with social media, they’ve expanded their market.

“We can have hundreds of people seeing the open house all at the same time and then it stays around on the social media so people can go back after the fact,” adds Lebedoff.

Benchmark home prices were up across the board in the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board region in June.

Single-family home prices were up 3.1% in Central Okanagan ($684,000), 3.5% in North Okanagan ($492,500) and 0.9% in the Shuswap/Revelstoke area ($432,100).

The number of June sales across the region, which covers Peachland to Revelstoke, increased 77% compared to May and was up 9% over June 2019.

New listings were up 4% over May but are still 14% lower than the June 2019 mark.

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