With restaurants patios advertising that they are back in full swing and stores opening up once again, could everything just return to the way it was? And what would be the effect on real estate? The irony is that of all of the service industries out there, real estate was not really affected by the pandemic as much as others. Yes, we had to set limited viewing appointments, wear masks, lather up with disinfectant and remain a respectful distance apart, but in spite of things, the last year or so has been brisk! In fact, some of the restrictions made the business easier. We discovered we could do the vast majority of our job from our home offices and digitize transactions better than we did in the past. So, now that the barriers are being lifted, what now? Here are five trends we are seeing or may see in the short term:
Having worked effectively from home for the past 15 months or so, many agents have become used to working from home and mobile. They have been able to avoid commutes, juggle childcare responsibilities, work in their “comfort clothes,” and save considerable time and money. They have been able to adjust schedules around their family and work off hours as necessary to get things done. Yes, it has been frustrating at times dealing with kids rather than being available when needed. Of course, Zoom & Google Meet are just not the same as collaborating in person. Overall, however, everyone has managed to make it work, and now that we are cleared to return, many employees are just not that keen to return to the office.
Having discovered that a good deal of expensive office space may actually be unnecessary, many businesses are are rethinking how they use their office space. The prime example, here in Ottawa, is Shopify, who sublet thousands of square feet of office space! There is no question that in-person work has significant benefits. But there is also the reality that highly skilled administrative help is available either full time or part-time remotely. Many admins prefer to work from home to be with their children. As a result, many real estate brokerages' office spaces can or should be shrinking. Less expensive collaborative spaces may become the norm such as Staples Studio or other co-working spaces.
Coined by Anthony Klotz, a Texas A&M University professor during a Bloomberg Businessweek interview, the phrase “The Great Resignation” refers to the pent-up dissatisfaction many employees have endured through the pandemic as they have stayed with current jobs rather than look for more appealing opportunities. Now that things are opening up again, it’s projected that we will see a significant wave of resignations and corporate reshuffling. This is echoed by The Wall Street Journal, which stated in a June 13, 2021 article that the number of employees quitting their jobs is at a two-decade high. Rather than return to the office, many employees are looking for better-paying opportunities more in line with their skill set and values. Some are leaving the corporate world altogether as COVID-19 has reshaped their priorities and desires.
This is also happening in real estate as agents are looking around to find better deals elsewhere. At the point in time where companies (and real estate offices) were hoping to capitalize on the new freedoms and relaunch in earnest, they are forced to deal with waves of resignations, setting them back on their heels.
As a result of the current corporate reshuffling, recruitment is awash with emerging challenges. Employers, eager to gain traction in the reopening market, are upping the ante to gain new employees and consequently offering higher salaries and benefits. Employees, sensing they may have the upper hand, are out looking for better opportunities and raising the bar on their expectations.
We are seeing this trend in the real estate sector, as well, as agents have recently begun shifting en masse to what they feel are better opportunities and values. Not only are brokerages seeing key members evacuate, but we are also seeing entire teams jump ship and align with different brokerages. Brokerages will need to reevaluate how they recruit and what is their value are they providing to their agents if they want to build amidst the current environment.
Whereas the mandatory Covid guidelines opened the door to Zoom meetings and distance interactions, now that the barriers are coming down, clients are making it very clear they want to do real estate in person. In the US, crowds are flocking to open houses, buyer tours are in full swing, and clients are requesting to meet in person instead of enduring Zoom consultations.
Agents who had hoped that Zoom would have permanently streamlined some client interactions may be disappointed. It appears humans are "social animals" and people like being together and may jump at the opportunity to reengage in social contexts once again especially when it comes to home shopping. Time will tell shortly.
It is a changing world for sure, and like any new environment, it appears to be coming with a few surprises. In the short term, it appears that real estate agents will have their hands' full learning how to navigate these new waters. But we will adapt! Tell me what you think?
Real estate is a second career for Kim, and she joins TRU Realty as a professional with great passion, dedication and enthusiasm.
Kim has a Masters of Science degree in Biology and has spent the majority of her career working as a biologist in the conservation of species at risk. Kim has found a new interest in and love for real estate, where she works closely with her clients to represent their interests while making the experience relaxed and enjoyable.
Kim takes pride in her dedication, her positive attitude, and attentiveness to detail - qualities that will serve her clients well and mark her as a TRU professional. Born and raised in Ottawa, Kim loves to bike around the city, taking in all of the beauty and charm it has to offer.
We are thrilled to announce Don Houston has joined TRU Realty! Don grew up in Montreal, attended McGill and majored in Land Planning and Environmental Conservation and was a "professional environmentalist" for 20 years before transitioning into the real estate industry. Don's real estate experience is extensive, having sold properties throughout eastern Ontario for CMHC and especially the west-end of Ottawa. We are really excited to have a "TRU Pro" representing our brokerage and invite all of Don's past and current clients to continue to contact him for all their real estate needs!
Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 2,296 residential properties in May through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 1,342 in May 2020, an increase of 71 per cent. May’s sales included 1,779 in the residential-property class, up 67 per cent from a year ago, and 517 in the condominium-property category, an increase of 85 per cent from May 2020. The five-year average for total unit sales in May is 2,123.
Although Ontario was in a lockdown in both May 2020 and May 2021, the impact they had on Ottawa’s resale market was quite different - with this year’s number of transactions being well over the five-year average. Undoubtedly, enhanced safety measures and vaccine adoption rates have enabled potential Buyers and Sellers to feel more protected and comfortable in their home buying and selling process.
Additionally, twice the number of new listings entered the market in May 2021, compared to last year at this time, with 2,386 residential properties and 727 condos added to inventory. This is approximately 50 units more than the five-year average for new listings.
May’s average sale price for a condominium-class property was $424,843, an increase of 24 per cent from last year, while the average sale price for a residential-class property was $741,206, an increase of 35 per cent from a year ago. With year-todate average sale prices at $736,241 for residential and $420,074 for condominiums, these values represent a 35 per cent and 21 percent increase over 2020, respectively.
With the number of condominium sales transactions having increased by 85% in May of 2021, over May of 2020, coupled with the 21% price increase in the same periods, it appears that the condo market has recovered from the declines experienced early in the pandemic.
For residential-class properties, price movement is still well above 2020, with 46% selling over $700K compared to 16% of properties last year at this time - these percentages are reflected in the sales data for both May and year-to-date. We observe that month-over-month average price increases for April and May are not as high as the jumps in value in the first quarter of 2021. While it is still too early to predict, this may be a sign that the rapid price acceleration we have been experiencing is easing in the market.
As we come out of this lockdown, we will closely monitor other market factors including the effects of the increased stress test measures combined with the average five-year fixed mortgage rates climbing back over two per cent since the beginning of 2021, and whether pent-up supply will decrease our supply shortage and eventually bring Ottawa’s real estate market to a more balanced state.
OREB Members also assisted clients with renting 1,837 properties since the beginning of the year compared to 1,207 at this time last year.
For more information, or for an evaluation of your property, contact a TRU Realty salesperson.