Introduction to Virtual Open Houses

Following a plea from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board and the Ontario Real Estate Association, open houses in the GTA have been temporarily banned, hench virtual open houses. This is giving us a sense of deja-vu but it is a decision that we wholeheartedly support. COVID has proven that open houses do not impact the real estate market. During the first wave of COVID-19, home prices went up and home sales remained relatively steady despite a ban on open houses.

This time around, however, the market is a little different and therefore buyers need to make a buying plan that does not involve open houses. In the initial wave of COVID cases, the number of listed properties went way down. It was relatively easy for buyers who wanted to go house shopping to get out and see the limited supply of homes available to them through private appointments. However, this time around we are in a different situation. We have far more listings now and we also have a larger number of home buyers during this wave compared to the last wave. In pre-COVID times open houses were a really efficient way for buyers to see as many properties as they wanted without feeling the pressure of booking a private showing.

As a homebuyer, here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Treat virtual open houses only as a first step to finding out if you want to go view the home in-person. The listing agents are running the open houses and therefore they will be in control of what you do and do not see.

  2. Virtual open houses do not replace in-person viewings. The whole world has become more virtual, which is great, but home buying still needs to be an in-person experience.

  3. The most important: Hire your own real estate agent. This is more important now than ever. You want an agent who is looking after your best interests and who can do a virtual walk-through of a property with you prior to booking an in-person showing. Your real estate agent can also schedule private showings for you so that you have the house to yourself with the time and space you need to consider it. The best part? The seller pays the buying agent so you won’t be out of pocket.

Remember, canceling open houses doesn’t mean that buying a house needs to be put off. It just means that as a buyer you should choose an agent that you don’t mind spending a lot of time with at private showings. Happy house hunting and stay safe!

Robyn VanderVennen
The Kim Kehoe Team

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