Fewer people are listing and fewer people are searching for homes, according to the New Brunswick Real Estate Association.
There were only 933 new residential listings in March, a drop of 22.8 per cent in the number of listings in comparison to this time last year, said Sheila Henry, president of the association.
Home sales, however, have increased from this time last year.
From March 2019 to March 2020, 708 homes sold in New Brunswick — an increase of 7.9 per cent.
Since the numbers are reflective of the past year and not just the pandemic lockdown, they make sense, Henry said.
“Really it was only the last week of March that we started to notice perhaps a pause in our market place,” Henry said.
Henry said the high sales in March probably reflect properties that were in transaction, completed transactions or homes that had been bought in January or February and closed in March.
“We really don’t have enough data yet to determine what any trends would be moving forward [with COVID-19].”
Realtors and home buyers are more likely to see changes in April or May, Henry said.
“Our January and February were very good months. March obviously still shows that, but where that forecast will be [in the summer], it’s almost impossible to predict.”
Realtors turn to virtual tours to show homes
Physical distancing has taken away the opportunity for buyers, sellers and realtors to meet in person, which may contribute to the low number of listings.
But the housing market remains open and virtual tours are leading the way.
Dwayne Hayes, the education officer with the New Brunswick Real Estate Association, said realtors are using photos, video tours, 3-D imaging and drones to give buyers a look inside a house.
Real estate agencies are offering buyers livestream tours of homes via Zoom, so buyers can still have a guided tour of a residence.
“It’s a mechanism where the buyers can completely see the property and the realtors can assist with any questions,” Hayes said.
Livestream showings are scheduled with the realtor. Buyers are provided with a link to the livestream and watch along on their screen as the realtor provides facts and comments about the home.
Hayes couldn’t say how many homes have sold in New Brunswick in which buyers were forced to solely rely on technology to purchase their home, although it has happened, Hayes said.
He said photos, video tours, 3-D imaging and drones were used prior to to the pandemic, but are now becoming more common — and that’s likely to continue, even after COVID-19.
“Before it was a feature of convenience. Now, it’s a feature of necessity.”