COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work and how we socialize with family and friends. While it has been at times overwhelming, the association and real estate industry have really come together to show leadership, support for the community, and a major dose of optimism.
In mid-March, the SRA mandated that open houses were prohibited, and the rest of the country followed that lead. Given that the province has extended the state of emergency to mid-May, the SRA board has mandated that open houses will not be permitted until further notice. We will re-evaluate this position at the end of May.
The association has taken (and continues to take) steps to ensure that members have access to necessary resources to conduct essential business practices and earn a living while respecting the restrictions imposed by government and that they are able to maintain personal health and safety.
Our approach to re-opening will keep us in-step with the Government of Saskatchewan’s phased re-open plans. While the first two phases have been outlined and dates set, phase three to five are still up in the air.
Although the SRA and the real estate industry have been listed as an essential service in Saskatchewan, we still choose to close our offices to the public until the fall and have staff work from home.
We have advocated to our membership and the public that now is not the time for business as usual. We have set several guidelines for our members to incorporate in their daily business practices including:
- Limiting in-person transactions to exceptional circumstances like urgent situations where sellers may have already moved, divorce, death and foreclosure or bankruptcy;
- Extensive screening of all clients including questions about travel history and general health;
- Employing virtual/electronic tools as much as possible for showings, paperwork and meetings;
- Requiring regular cleanings when in-person contact is required, limiting visitors to a property to only decision-makers, and social distancing.
It is expected that prices may drop with the decreased demand by buyers, however it is likely that this will be offset by the trend of declining inventory levels and new listings coming to the market. Spring is typically the busiest time for home sales, and we expect that sales that are on hold right now will be recovered once the province has opened again. We fully expect a strong recovery for the real estate market later this year.
Leah Terry, Pandemic Officer
Saskatchewan REALTORS ® Association