Real estate sales are a lagging economic indicator. It takes weeks or months for sales to feel the effects of shifts in other areas of the economy. That said, it is currently impossible to predict how the current environment surrounding the COVID-19 crisis is going to change our local housing market. However, we can comment on what as happened so far and we will continue to update statistics over the coming weeks to keep everyone informed as to what is going on.
As you’ll note in the charts below, it’s too early for the real estate market to react to what has happened in the past week. It is also subject to significant change as the Government’s response to this crisis evolves on a daily basis.
Number of New Listings
New listings in March 2020 outpaced those in 2019 by a large margin. Even the week of March 16th-22nd when the COVID-19 crisis evolved at a blistering pace, we still saw more homes hit the market than in the same week last year. However, the number of new listings in comparison to the previous week dropped by 19.9%. I expect that will drop again in the week of March 23rd-29th.
Number of Offers Written
This is a surprising number. Despite global events, the number of offers written outpaced March 2019 activity in every week to date. I expect that the offers written in the week of March 16th-22nd were from buyers who were deep into the house hunting process. They were likely at the stage of making a decision than starting to look at homes. While Realtors have been told they can continue to attend appointments while adhering to social distancing guidelines, I know that many are uncomfortable doing so. As Quebec and Ontario announce all non-essential businesses close, I’d be surprised if Nova Scotia did not follow suit in the near future. However, real estate services were listed as essential (view the complete list of services here). Time will tell how sales continue.
Number of Cancelled/Withdrawn Listings
As real estate is a lagging indicator, we have not seen many cancelled listings as of yet. Many have chosen to leave their homes on the market while postponing showings. However, it is probably more beneficial to withdraw it completely so it does not sit on the market for an extended period without viewings. This will only negatively affect a seller’s negotiating position in the long run. I expect we will see more people pull their homes off the market in the weeks to come. If we are required to social distance, the prospect of having a stranger visit your house while touching all sorts of knobs and surfaces is uncomfortable. Although, the decision to allow property viewings is that of the homeowner.
What should you do?
The Halifax market was incredibly competitive prior to this crisis. There was extreme pressure placed on buyers and very little time to think when making a decision. We have an obligation to our community to social distance and this offers plenty of time to plan for when things return to normal. We are advising our clients not to list their homes at the moment, but we are offering them advice for when they list in the coming weeks/months. We are giving them tips to prepare their home for sale via video conference. We are price planning and discussing marketing strategies. For buyers, we are suggesting they solidify their pre-approvals if their work has not been affected. We are educating them about the buying process and gathering their home criteria to set them up with a custom, automatic search tool. Real estate is as much about planning your next move as it is about making it. Use this time to build a foundation for your future real estate decisions.
From the team at HaliPad, stay safe and stay positive. We’ll be here to offer advice if you need us and we look forward to seeing you all in person when this is over.
Chris Perkins, Broker/Owner