Friday, May 29, 2020 / by Sergey Korostensky
To the middle of March, interest in buying a home in Alberta increased two-fold from March 2019, according to a report from ShowingTime Data, which tracks daily increases and decreases in showings of homes for sale across North America.
The baseline for measurements is the number of showings during the first week of the year, compared to subsequent showings.
On March 10, 2019, showings increased 28.4 per cent from the first week of January. On the same day in March 2020, showings increased 56.1 per cent over the same time frame.
And then came the COVID-19 panic and the province-wide lockdown.
On March 13, 2020, the gap narrowed to an increase of 32.6 per cent, the same number recorded on March 13, 2019.
By April 8 this year, showings had decreased by 65.4 per cent, compared to a 60.3 per cent increase on April 8, 2019.
“The beginning of April marked the absolute bottom of per capita real estate activity since the Great Depression as three-quarters of buyer traffic evaporated,” says ShowingTime chief analytics officer Daniil Cherkasskiy.
Since April 8, the low point, the number of showings has increased slowly, but steadily, reaching an increase of 22.3 per cent on May 24.
“We have seen a surge in the market over the last few weeks,” says Sarah Scott, a realtor with the CIR Realty AlbertaRE Real Estate Team, based in Calgary. “I think the public is starting to catch on that we are heading into an even deeper buyers’ market and, with mortgage rates dipping, this is a pretty great time to seize an opportunity.
“Those who are reaching out are mainly looking in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range.”
The CIR Realty showings report for the week of May 12 to 18 indicates 47 per cent of homes shown were priced below $400,000, with 28 per cent priced between $300,000 and $400,000.
The upswing in showing activity correlates with an increasing rate of adoption of technology, with more and more agents conducting showings virtually and with increased safety measures for in-person home showings, says Jesse Davies of Century 21 Elevate Real Estate.
“We’re wearing gloves and have face masks and hand sanitizer on hand. Realtors open lockboxes and doors while clients are not touching any door handles or lights. We have our buyers fill out a COVID-19 form asking them a bunch of questions relating to symptoms and travel to help limit risks of spread,” says Davies, who had 25 showings over 14 days up to the third week of May. “I think people are starting to realize that this virus isn’t going to vanish any time soon and that our daily lives have to go on, but we need to take the necessary precautions such as wearing masks and using sanitizer when washing our hands is not possible.
“If we follow these steps most of my sellers and buyers are starting to feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of buying and selling in this uncertain time."