In news that will do little to calm the nerves of antsy mortgage professionals, data released by Point2 Homes on Monday finds sentiment among real estate agents around COVID-19’s impact on their businesses to be one of pessimism and extreme concern.
The survey, which follows the far more optimistic polling of homebuyer sentiment Point2 Homes released on April 9, collected responses from 369 agents between April 7 and 14. There’s little potential for shock in some of the data, such as 86% of respondents noticing at least “quite a significant drop” in homebuyer interest. But the feelings realtors expressed around what business will look like once COVID-19 passes may take some by surprise.
When asked about their level of concern over the impact of the outbreak on their business, 97% of realtors said they are at least “somewhat worried”, but the vast majority are either “very worried and concerned” (41%) or “extremely anxious” (34%). Only 1% of realtors said they are not concerned by COVID-19’s impact “at all”.
Nick MacDonald of RE/MAX Charlottetown Realty says the negative sentiments aren’t uncommon among agents in Prince Edward Island.
“The feeling among my colleagues is generally the same,” he says. “It’s been a hilly and rocky ride for just over two months now on PEI. We’re all taking it day by day, and doing our best to support our clients, colleagues and communities.”
Vanessa Roman of Pemberton Homes in Victoria is focusing more on the cyclical aspects of selling real estate.
“As agents, we constantly face the peaks and valleys of the market conditions. We are accustomed to adapting our businesses accordingly,” she says.
The responses were grim when agents were asked to estimate the extent of the financial damage COVID-19 will ultimately do to their incomes. Over 90% of respondents are expecting losses of at least 25%, with 29% of that group projecting losses of more than 75%.
MacDonald falls into the more optimistic category, taking the increase the Island is seeing in the number of Canadians coming from out of province as a sign of positive things to come.
“That demand should help the market recover somewhat,” he says.
The remaining questions provide a somewhat muddled view of the future. Over 60% of agents say they are expecting a significant negative impact on the real estate market in general (34% expect slightly negative effects), but 80% think the post-lockdown recovery will take 12 months or less. 39% of realtors surveyed feel the recovery will be complete in three to six months. But a not insignificant 17% say the recovery could take up to two years.
Roman, for her part, is looking forward to a relatively smooth return to business as usual.
“While we certainly have had a dramatic decline in sales since the pandemic began, Victoria remains a desirable place to call home, with strong industries for job creation,” she says. “Our market will recover once the pandemic ends.”