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How London home sales have changed amid COVID-19

Two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people in London, Ont., are still buying and selling homes, one expert says, it’s just happening at a lower rate.
Two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people in London, Ont., are still buying and selling homes, one expert says, it’s just happening at a lower rate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people in London, Ont., are still buying and selling homes, one expert says, it’s just happening at a lower rate.

Stewart Blair, a realtor for Royal LePage in London spoke to Global News about what it’s been like for the real estate market during the pandemic.

Blair said that while London prices have not changed, he has seen a 55 per cent decline in sales.

“When this pandemic started impacting us in Canada, a lot of people had already purchased homes,” Blair said.

“We had a number of people who still had to go ahead, not because they wanted people going through their house during a pandemic, but there is not many of us out there that can afford to pay for two houses at once.”

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READ MORE: Coronavirus — London-St. Thomas home sales down more than 50% in April

Because of this, among other reasons, Blair is still seeing many active buyers, but he says the number of available homes has dropped significantly.

“In the last three days in London, for residential homes, there were only 48 new listings, compared to a regular Monday in May — you would have 40 new listings in the first hour of being open,” he said.

A lack of competition may be a benefit for those trying to sell their home right now.

Jimmy Gomez recently listed his London property on the market, and it sold above his asking price within the first day of being listed.

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“It was definitely a little bit of a different experience. A lot of things were done through an online system and through the phone and texting with my realtor, whereas before I had met with her in person,” Gomez said.

After being laid off from his job as a flight attendant with WestJet in mid-Mach, Gomez said he did not want to reach a point where he could not pay his mortgage.

“I was scared of the uncertainty and would rather sell right now and jump back in the market when I am in a more stable financial situation,” he explained.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — What will happen to Canada’s housing market amid the pandemic?

Letting people into his home was also something Gomez was unsure about.

“I was reassured by my realtor nobody was going to be touching anything, and she told me to make sure all the lights are on and there is a clear path, so nobody needed to touch anything,” he said.

The way people sell homes is something Blair says may take some time to get back to normal.

“I just don’t know if, on a Sunday afternoon, we are ever going to have a really popular open house where we let 50 people through,” he said. “I don’t know if that is realistic anymore.”

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