Real Estate

The COVID-19 Pandemic Shifts Homebuyers’ Priorities

The COVID-19 outbreak has initially brought a wave of uncertainty, followed almost immediately by a period of stagnation in almost all industries and more recently by economic measures aimed at containing and limiting the economic ripples caused by the disruption in activity.

One segment that is seeing some changes is the housing and real estate market. In Canada, many of the measures taken by local and national institutions represent an attempt to make sure homeowners aren’t forced into default during the crisis. According to Canada’s housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), all remedial action is focused on helping homeowners get through these trying times.

But what are the short-term effects of the outbreak and where are they most visible? To answer these questions, analysts at Point2 Homes looked at two sets of data: Google Trends and traffic on our own platform. 

Based on an analysis of Google Trends data, homebuyers’ interest started shifting as soon as a week ago: searches for “real estate,” “homes for sale” and “condos for sale” as well as “apartments for rent” started dropping fast, and their place on people’s list of priorities was taken by some newly-minted important activities like “work from home,” “home desk” and “home workout.”

One other factor that shows people’s dwindling interest in homebuying is the evolution of traffic on Point2Homes, one of Canada’s leading real estate marketplaces. According to their numbers, “on the 11th of March, visits to the site dropped 8%, only to continue the following day with a 20% drop, and then 24% on the 13th of March, reaching the most significant decrease on the 16th of this month – 32%.”

The sharp drop in visits on the site is all the more telling since the spring months usually mark the beginning of homebuying season, a period when prospective homebuyers, home sellers and renters alike start to be much more active on the market. 

Visits on the platform were steadily increasing up until a few days before news of the virus started rapidly spreading, only to start falling awith the changes in lifestyle and day-to-day routine that people were now experiencing.

Activities like looking for a new home, maybe buying a second property or looking for a new apartment to rent become secondary in the new context. Canada is fast approaching full lockdown and the changes that come with this new protective measure will hinder even more home seekers’ efforts of finding a home. 

However, given that certain changes were already being implemented, hopefully those who had already started the homebuying process are managing to see it through.

The novel Coronavirus, a pandemic that has managed to disrupt most economic and social activity in record time, might bring some changes to the real estate industry. From home sellers demanding extra measures of precaution to homebuyers and agents who are starting to focus more on pictures, home descriptions and virtual tours and taking more of the process online, some changes could be here to stay.

Andra Hopulele is a Senior Real Estate Writer at Point2 Homes. With over seven years of experience in the field and a passion for all things real estate, Andra covers the impact of housing issues on our everyday lives. She writes about the financial implications of the new generations entering the housing market and about the challenges of homeownership. Her studies and articles have appeared in publications like REM Online, Yahoo Finance, Which Mortgage, and Le Quotidien. Andra can be reached at andra.hopulele@yardi.com

You may also be interested in: Down Payment vs. Deposit – What’s the Difference?


Writer: Andra Hopulele

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