COVID-19 is here, and it has quickly become the biggest disrupter in not just our health care system, but our financial markets, small businesses and everything in between. We've seen unprecedented stock market drops, small businesses close their doors until further notice and people self quarantine for the foreseeable future.
What does COVID-19 mean for the Vancouver real estate market? It was just a few weeks ago that we were in full swing. We were getting the feeling that our market was roaring back,. Multiple offers, subject free offers, and hoards of people at open houses were the norm. Interest rates were dropping and we were all preparing for a year similar to what we saw back in 2016.
Then we got word of Corona Virus. It seemed like it was a world away. We heard stories of what it was doing in China, but many of us thought people were over reacting. We heard people in power say "just wash your hands", "it's just the flu", "only the elderly need to be worried" and on and on.
Then it started to spread. And it spread very quickly. Before we knew it, Italy was in lockdown, then Germany. Then the NBA paused it's season. Followed by the NHL. March madness was cancelled and all minor leagues shut down.
President Trump started by saying stay away from groups of 1000. This quickly turned into 500, then 100, then 50, 10 and now just your immediate family.
Social Distancing became the phrase of the month. Essentially stay home. Don't leave unless you need food or medicine. People started to listen.
So here we are. In the first full week of "social distancing". Homes are still listed for sale. Sellers still need to sell. Some buyers still need to buy. Open houses are starting to be cancelled and private showings are becoming the norm.
But what happens next?
Well the big 5 banks (Scotia,TD, BMO, CIBC and RBC) have come out and said that on a case by case basis they will work with small business owners and individuals that have been impacted. This could mean delaying mortgage payments and interest payments. It just came out today and the details are still unclear. There could be up to 6 months of deferred mortgage payments from what we are seeing now.
The biggest question for me is how long quarantine will last. Inevitably it will lead to a stock up of buyers that have hit the pause button, unless those buyers are so impacted by the financial changes that COVID has led to. I think this will really depend how long this "lockdown" continues for.
In the meantime we are doing our best to navigate this tricky time, but also in assisting our clients in what they need to have done. We are walking a fine line of helping our clients that are in need of buying or selling, and keeping everyone safe.
Video conferencing and video tours will need to suffice on some occasions, and extreme caution will be used when we need to be in homes.
In the meantime, we wish everyone the best. Stay safe out there, and if we can assist at all feel free to give us a call. We are figuring this out along with everyone else as we go and more information is provided to us.