Realtors turning to technology to continue working

By Lisa Harrison

Property prices in Haliburton County have risen substantially over the past three years.

From December 2016 to December 2019, the average sale price of a lake cottage rose by almost 30 per cent to $486,250. The average “off-waterfront” residential price soared by 47 per cent to $280,000.

Local real estate agents attributed the growth to the ripple effect from Toronto and the GTA that we experience eight to 12 months later.

Then came COVID-19. So, what now?

“Interestingly enough, the spring market has been active with buyers calling and wanting to see property,” said Rick Forget, broker with Re/Max Professionals Inc., in a Mar. 25 email interview. “It is hard to say if or when this will change, but so far interest appears stronger than expected despite COVID-19.”

As the severity of the virus became known, agents implemented best practice precautions to protect everyone’s health when clients wanted personal tours, but otherwise turned to technology.

For example, sales representative Hilary Morrin said her firm eXp Realty Brokerage is a virtual company. Agents have been able to work remotely since inception 10 years ago.

“We are able to take advantage of video conferencing, e-signatures and viewing videos of listings during this unprecedented time,” said Morrin via email Mar. 28.

In times of economic uncertainty, it’s natural for people to postpone large purchases, noted Anthony vanLieshout, Broker of Record with Royal LePage Trillium Team. “As long as the number of cases [of COVID-19] is increasing, I don’t see that there’s going to be much activity in the marketplace,” he said in a Mar. 24 phone interview. “Once those numbers have peaked and they start to decline, I think we’ll see a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm … we’re going to see a lot of pent-up demand … [and] we’re going to be swamped.”

“Stay the course with [a] level of flexibility, we will need to adapt to the changing situation,” Morrin advised buyers and sellers. “Remain educated and speak to your real estate professional for market updates and analytical strategies.”

Forget said there’s reason to be optimistic. “The natural beauty of our towns and lakes draws potential buyers from all over Ontario, and the recreational and residential real estate market in Haliburton County offers everyone an affordable choice, when compared to a lot of other regions in Ontario,” he said. “At this point I expect this will continue for quite some time.”

(Real estate statistics supplied by the Trillium Team. For details, visit trilliumteam.ca/market-stats)

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