Canada / Coronavirus Insights
How the Real Estate Industry is Adapting to the Coronavirus

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by Eva Koronios, Industry Research Analyst
Jun 11 2020

As a result of the social distancing mandates that were put into place by the Canadian federal and provincial governments to curb the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) country-wide, realtors in Canada have ultimately been met with some unprecedented challenges regarding their continued operations amid a state of pandemic. For instance, although the real estate industry’s operations were designated as being an essential service in many provinces, many consumers have nevertheless remained hesitant in soliciting the services of industry operators due to their concerns over health and safety.

This hesitance, in combination with widespread unemployment, decreased consumer spending and a marked decline in consumer confidence, has affected revenue projections for the Apartment Rental industry in Canada over the current year. In 2020, industry revenue is projected to decline 4.1% as the various economic challenges created by the coronavirus work their way throughout every facet of Canadian society more broadly (IBISWorld report 53111CA).

Yet real estate agents have already begun to adapt to these more difficult operating conditions, thus safeguarding against a more significant drop in revenue and simultaneously breathing new life into a newly struggling industry. Read on for IBISWorld’s analysis of the industry’s resilience during the ongoing pandemic.


Real estate goes virtual

Following the recommendation that realtors cease conducting open houses in the interest of public safety, realtors immediately began to seek new and creative ways in which they could show homes and apartments without their clients having to physically visit the properties’ locations, manifesting in the industry’s shift toward virtual operations.

For instance, nowadays, instead of taking prospective renters or buyers into a home or apartment, the agent in question will go in, take a detailed video tour of the house and send it to their clients afterward. Moreover, and depending on the agent in question, the agent may also FaceTime or otherwise video call clients as they are walking through the house, therefore making them available to answer questions in real-time. These virtual open houses serve as a way of showcasing properties to interested individuals while completely eliminating the close contact that would usually occur during an in-person showing.



Additionally, operators have begun providing clients with floor plans, detailed descriptions and panoramic pictures to supplement their video tours, with some operators even working to set up a live stream link through which multiple clients interested in a particular property can view it concurrently. According to RE/MAX Canada, some companies and agents have even begun to work with photographers that specialize in piecing together 360-degree home video tours, consequently offering up a new revenue stream for the Photography industry in Canada (54192CA), yet another industry whose revenue prospects have also been diminished in the short-term due to the coronavirus.

Lastly, the digital age has made it easier for the industry’s real estate agents to adopt electronic signing methods, facilitating the final sale and rental of properties without the need to meet in-person for the purpose of signing paperwork. Many frequently-used applications, such as DocuSign, have smartphone and desktop versions that permit their users to remotely and officially sign a wide range of legal documents through their encryption technologies. These documents include both the leases and homeowning paperwork that is regularly drawn up between industry realtors and consumers that are looking to purchase or rent a home or apartment, ensuring the industry’s continued survival in the long-term and underscoring both the importance and the potential for the positive change that can come about as a result of technological innovation.