Canadian real estate markets hit hard by pandemic
Vancouver real estate agent David Hutchinson pulls out some bright blue medical gloves and tugs them onto his hands before entering a condo that's coming onto the market.
"It's uncharted territory, a completely different ballgame, and we're learning everything on the go," he said as he got his cellphone ready to do a virtual showing from the empty unit.
Welcome to selling real estate during a pandemic.
While Hutchison continues to work, albeit with adjustments, Canada's real estate industry appears to be heading into a deep freeze despite the warming spring weather. Though sales figures started off relatively strong in March in many parts of the country, they fell swiftly as the COVID-19 pandemic grew and stricter protective measures were put in place.
Greater Vancouver's real estate board, for example, released figures showing sales for the month overall were up 46 per cent compared to last March.
But by the end of the month, weekly statistics showed a dramatic slowdown, falling by about half compared to the first part of the month.
It was the same in Toronto, where home sales were up 49 per cent in the first 14 days of March compared to last year, but they plummeted by 16 per cent as the month closed.