Realtors see market changes amid COVID-19 concerns
LONDON, ONT. -- Just 10 days ago, the London and St. Thomas real estate market was 'on fire,' but now the president of the London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors, Blair Campbell isn’t sure what to expect.
As with most everything else, he concurs COVID-19 is starting to hurt the housing market.
Campbell says some realtors are suspending listings as an already low inventory drops.
London Realtor Joyce Byrne says she’s seeing another impact.
"The first thing we saw were open houses declining."
Yet Byrne says there are some still scheduled to go ahead this weekend, even in the midst of the crisis.
Stopping open houses and other measures seemed unimaginable just seven days ago given the recent market, Byrne acknowledges.
"A week-and-a-half ago we were listing houses, showing houses, selling houses. We were not worried about Lysol wipes."
But realtors are worried about their clients amid COVID-19. On one hand the sellers are worried prices may fall, while on the other, the buyers are worried the time is no longer right to make a major purchase.
While mortgage rates are dropping, those at the greatest risk in the housing market are those who just bought a house, expecting their existing home would sell quickly. Now they could be caught with two properties.
"The people who are making a move right now, are those doing it out of necessity," Campbell says.
Byrne concurs it’s a worrisome situation.
"I had a listing and I had the property sold, but the person who bought the property had to go back and sell the house. So their agent is probably talking to them about how they’re going to market their current property now. Maybe they soften their price, maybe they open themselves up to conditional offers. Maybe they’ll be open to accepting something with a home inspection or other financing conditions attached."
While the situation is evolving, both Byrne and Campbell suggest the market for now, does remain active.
Byrne says she had two home showing on Thursday alone.
Campbell suggests he hasn't noticed any significant downward price trends, meaning people are still looking.
"Business is continuing at a reduced pace, on a case-by-case basis."
He suggests some realtors may turn to virtual tours to sell houses, sight unseen, until the COVID-19 crisis eases.
When that happens, Campbell is a firm believer that sales which are not made now, will be then.
"We may have an uptick later in the year after all this is over."