Most Canadians remember where they were Friday, March 13. For many, it was the last “normal” day we would have before being forced into an international shutdown due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
From how we bought toilet paper to how we collected an income, Canadians were left reeling in every aspect of our lives.
The future looked bleak for REALTORS®, too, as they wondered how public health guidelines would affect their business and the ability for Canadians to buy and sell homes.
At CREA, we even paused our quarterly forecast; it was nearly impossible to predict how the markets would react to something that was widely dubbed as an unprecedented time in human history.
Yet, here we are at the end of July and our latest numbers are better than normal: REALTOR.ca visits are at all-time high.
With COVID-19 delaying the start to the typical busy spring market, traffic to REALTOR.ca has peaked in the summer months and had its strongest year-to-date growth in June, with an increase of 42% in unique visitors.
Of course, this data coincides with how strict physical distancing guidelines have relaxed across the country over the last couple of months.
“Sales are up 150% from April this year and up 15% from last June, so we’ve got numbers that are back at normal levels, even though the housing market, and regular life for that matter, isn’t quite there yet,” said CREA Senior Economist Shaun Cathcart in CREA’s June monthly stats report. “Later this year remains a huge question mark, but I can tell our daily tracking suggests that July, at least, will likely be even stronger than June.”
While some of the surge can be credited to Canadians simply having to delay their home buying journey, a lot of it also has to do with how quickly CREA adapted to promoting a virtual, contactless transaction process and gave REALTORS® the tools to carry on with their business—albeit in an altered fashion.
Within weeks of the global shutdown, CREA had come up with a COVID-19 game plan and introduced a highly visible section on REALTOR.ca listing descriptions promoting an agent’s upcoming virtual open houses and or live stream walkthroughs.
Since the launch of that feature, over 2,500 REALTORS® have conducted more than 18,000 live stream open houses. REALTORS® are adding more video, 3D virtual tours and floor plans, allowing consumers access to homes, when business-as-usual is not possible.
For the foreseeable future, this virtual-first way of thinking is only going to grow as Canadians adapt to this new normal. REALTOR.ca remains the No. 1 real estate platform in Canada* and continues to separate itself from competitor sites. REALTOR.ca has increased its online market share from 30.64% in January to 41.32% in June.
While it’s still difficult to predict what will happen, the future looks more optimistic than it did in March. Of course, the No. 1 priority for CREA is making sure our REALTORS® can continue to work and stay safe while doing so. No matter what challenges are thrown your way, CREA will work hard behind the scenes on behalf of you.
Remember to check the CREA Café regularly and monitor your email inbox for important CREA updates.