So how bad has the coronavirus been for home sales?

By Jim Brown

Latest statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show a staggering 14.3 per cent decline in sales across the country, from February to March.

Virtual home tours are replacing actual showings and gloves and masks and hand sanitizer are now a common part of a real estate agent’s tool kit.

“This is definitely something we’ve never seen before,” said realtor Greg Lipton, president of the PEI Real Estate Association, who has been through the Great Recession of 2008.

Still, there are some silver linings in the grim toll. PEI, for instance, only recorded a 4.8 per cent decline in home sales and the average price a home fetched was actually 19 per cent higher on the Island in March.

“It’s going to hurt us…but we’re not ready to push the panic button,” said Mr Lipton.

In the business for 16 years, Mr Lipton said real estate agents earn their living in an uncertain environment at the best of times, so many are prepared for the worst, though probably no one saw a dystopic pandemic coming.

Many have enough in the bank to get through a few bad months, he said.

If the pandemic is resolved by the the end of June there is a decent chance of a “pretty good recovery.”

A lot of sales are done in July, said Mr Lipton.

He went on to say listings are picking up and people are still buying and selling properties. But there have been changes, such as showings normally done over three to four weeks “are not going to happen.” Instead they are going to stretch out over three to four months.

From the CREA news release: “March 2020 will be remembered around the planet for a long time. Canadian home sales and listings were increasing heading into what was expected to be a busy spring for Canadian REALTORS®,” said Jason Stephen, president of CREA. “After Friday the 13th, everything went sideways. REALTORS® are complying with government directives and advice, all the while adopting virtual technologies allowing them to continue showing properties to clients already in the market, and completing all necessary documents. They remain your best source for information and guidance when negotiating the sale or purchase of a home in these unprecedented times.”