COVID-19 impacting home sales, listings in Greater Moncton, realtors group says

Click to play video: 'Moncton real estate lowest in 15 years due to COVID-19 pandemic' Moncton real estate lowest in 15 years due to COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: Real estate listings in the greater Moncton area are at a 15-year low. As Shelley Steeves reports, this is a good time to put a house on the market. – May 27, 2020

A drastic drop in home sales and new listings in Greater Moncton amid the COVID-19 pandemic this spring has created a seller’s real estate market, according to the Greater Moncton Realtors group.

Parise Cormier, president of the Greater Moncton Realtors group, said people are getting into bidding wars over homes listed for sale in the city because there are so few on the market right now.

READ MORE: Coronavirus and the housing market — Is this a good time to buy?

Cormier said that during the peak of the pandemic, the province would only allow realtors to broker essential sales, meaning “people who sold a house that had to move or people who were transferred here.”

Cormier said that only 139 units were sold in April, which was a drop of 47 per cent over last year.

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New listings were down by almost 62 per cent, and the number of homes listed on the market is currently trending at the lowest level in 15 years.

Dieppe’s Al LeClair said it is definitely a “seller’s market.” He said that he didn’t even have time time to put a real estate sign on his lawn before his house was sold.

“It was just kind of a Facebook preview and then people saw it and wanted to come in, and they made an offer, so it was sold before it was even listed,” said Leclair.

The overall benchmark price for a home in April was almost $198,000, which Cormier said is an increase of about nine per cent compared to 2019.  The benchmark price for a townhouse in the city increased by 14.4 per cent over last year.

Since the province moved to the yellow stage of its COVID-19 restrictions, Cormier said that realtors can now list and sell homes to anyone. But she said they still have to follow strict New Brunswick Department of Health guidelines when conducting showings.

READ MORE: Gyms, hair salons to open as N.B. enters third COVID-19 recovery phase

“We have to sanitize high-touch areas, wear gloves and masks and do physical distancing also,” said Cormier.

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This may be why more and more people are opting to browse the market using video tours, according to Cormier. She said that for the first time in almost 25 years as a realtor, she even sold a house back in March over FaceTime.

“The homeowner was in their home and the purchasers were in Montreal, and we were on the line also and we viewed the house. It took about an hour and a half to view everything,” she said. Until a vaccine is available, Cormier said that may indeed become a new real estate norm.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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