How will the pandemic affect the future of real estate?
The past few months have been challenging for everyone and in the process of adapting to COVID-19 conditions, and we have learned a lot about ourselves and our lives. Throughout the social isolation and distancing, though, people continued to purchase homes and condominiums, because as cliche as it sounds, life goes on. Despite a global pandemic, people continue to experience various major life changes, such as new jobs and growing families, and they need to move. Since March, the real estate industry has been evolving to address current and future needs of buyers and renters. Some changes will persevere well into the future.
Take technology, for example. Purchasing homes and condos online has increased drastically. We are providing potential buyers with more up-front information than ever before, so they have a lot of time to digest it all before signing on the dotted line. We have found that with new project launches, many of the deals are done online using various technologies. Before the pandemic, we mainly did these types of deals with investors who live abroad; now, we are selling virtually with both local investors and end-users. Certainly, any potential buyer is able to come into the sales office if they prefer, but they can do a lot of their due diligence beforehand.
The second area of lasting change is in home and condo designs. With so many of us forced to work and study at home, the need for office space has become paramount. Even if it is a nook in a condo bedroom with space for a desk, or an optional finished basement in a lowrise home, there is a massive need for a designated workspace in the home. Technology goes hand in hand with this – high-speed Internet is a given, along with multiple plug-ins and ports so the entire family can benefit from productive home time.
During the summer months, combined with uncertainty over how long the pandemic will last – or be repeated – more and more people are looking for pool-sized lots or homes with a pool to make social distancing more bearable.
For condo buyers, the type of amenities included is being scrutinized more carefully. Is there a place for kids? An Internet lounge? Outdoor space?
Importantly, the phrase “location, location, location” is taking on a whole new meaning. Flexible work schedules that lessen personal contact each day, as well as transitions to more work-from-home jobs mean people can live anywhere and not necessarily close to their place of employment. With homebuyers not so connected to their workplaces, they can shop with a new attitude. We may see people moving into or out of the city for different reasons than in the past.
Whatever the impact of the pandemic, many of the changes will be long lasting. For our industry, many were positive and will continue to evolve and change with the times.
Debbie Cosic is the founder and CEO of In2ition Realty, an innovative real estate brokerage that specializes in project marketing, merchandising and selling of new home communities and condominiums. The professional team she has assembled assists clients with land assembly, market research, sales and marketing, design services, broker relations, and leasing and property management. in2ition.ca