We are all impacted by lay offs, long line ups at supermarkets, empty toilet paper shelves, working from home, or worse. If our own lives haven’t been completely shifted by the COVID-19 crisis, we know someone else who has. In this blog, Tembo will take a look at how COVID is impacting Toronto real estate and the broader southern Ontario housing market.
So far, with March coming to a close, the industry is arguably in very good shape all things considered. First and foremost, real estate is considered an essential business by the provincial government. It’s importance to employment, output, and just ensuring people have somewhere to live is crucial – and the government has obviously responded to that and acknowledged it. Guidelines on home showings and social isolation have been updated and restricted but realtors have used technology to manage some of these disease-related challenges.
International commerce and buying continues, and in many respects, the crisis may accelerate foreign purchases and investors scramble to move their money or persons around the world looking for stability in an ocean of unease. Construction is an issue, with pressure on governments to effectively shut down sites growing despite the importance of construction. The short to medium term impacts on construction sites remains to be seen. Media have already reported that construction sites related to government funded public transit will see delays in their timetables.
Prices and demand have yet to be impacted negatively. March’s numbers will be released in the next few days and will be interesting. April and May figures will be interesting, especially if quarantines, shut downs, and further economic disruption continue. Even if prices and demand does fall, it will likely be temporary, as prospective buyers waiting on the sidelines and investors with cash bide their time for opportunities.
The big and very positive news is that the big banks have announced that people will be able to apply to defer mortgage payments, and lowered interest rates means people can refinance for lower mortgage payments. While this is not an ideal measure, it offers flexibility in a time of crisis. All in all, the immediate impact of the crisis has not phased our ironclad market, but the medium to long term impacts will depend on how long this all lasts.