Buying and Selling During a Pandemic

“Should I buy this home considering the virus and stock market issues”?

It’s March 13, 2020 and negotiating deals recently saw this question come across my desk more than once.

Speak to your Lawyer, Accountant and Realtor® about personal advice based on your situation. Consider the following thoughts.

  1. Real Estate is truly local. The overriding local economic, social, taxation, migration and demographic factors are more important than other forces. Your local market might currently offer some killer deals?
  2. Money placed into “real property” is a longer-term investment.
  3. Rents will not change due to a pandemic and stock market crash per se. Base rents, to real investors, set the lowest price model for valuations. If you can rent a property cheaper than owning it (plus a savings plan) real estate in your area probably is overpriced. Ask your Realtor® about CAP rates and Net Operating Incomes in your area.
  4. Economic activity after the pandemic usually increases dramatically. Hurricanes destroy roads and infrastructure whereas pandemics panic and scare in modern times. For example, SARS hit in 2002 to 2004. In my area, real estate prices doubled from 2003 to 2005 and tripled by 2007. To be clear, SARS itself had no correlation to real estate prices increases in my area. Connecting the two is not statistically valid. What was valid were items mentioned in point 1; local factors.
  5. People with cash will be much richer in 6 months than you. As financial turmoil spreads, people with solid cash positions are wringing their hands. So, looking at your purchases without emotion makes a lot of sense right now.
  6. Real Estate prices and selection are based on supply and demand; Supply of property and money (financing). In my area, for example, supply has been limited for many months. Prices have fluctuated up and down. Rents are high (due to a shortage in supply). Government taxation has nearly halted building new units. And, last week my partner and I were involved in two “multiple offer” negotiations. The demand is high. Supply is limited in my area. What’s going on in yours?
  7. Financing. Recently, in Canada, the feds dropped mortgage rates. This helps all buyers access more money. In a market where supply is limited, this will raise prices over time.
  8. Prices and Values. Prices and values are relative. Mortgage rates and terms compared to rents are the real key. Think “cashflow”. People who wait to purchase are simply paying other people mortgages. I find over time, a massive drop in housing prices is not likely and those who wait may get priced out. Unless your parents own a mansion, you need someplace to live.
  9. FEAR. Many people will retract and defer based on fear. This will allow those who are analyzing the numbers and trends to have more open and free rein to deal in their best interest. But, it won’t last.
  10. You can’t time the bounce back. The stock market will bounce back. Buyers and Sellers will bounce back and Governments respond much faster with economic stimulus. Waiting to time your entry probably won’t work. In the past, bounce bask could take months and years. Today, I suspect this could happen within weeks and months instead. And, when people realize the bounce back has happened, it’s too late.
  11. Old Fashioned Advice. Everyone can be an expert in hindsight. A real expert crunches the numbers and takes action without emotion based on the data available at the time. If the numbers work and you are in it for the long term (+ 5 years) then it’s a great time to purchase real estate.

Real estate purchases are big. If you are a first time home buyer or investor, you will have to learn different thought processes in order to move forward. A low price on a bad property is far worse than a high price on a good one. What makes a good purchase? Running the numbers, looking at local factors and thinking long term are strategies of the winners. Remember, everyone needs shelter.

(Dean Desrosiers 2020. The thoughts and opinion expressed are those of Dean Desrosiers and not Century21 or any other entity he may be affiliated with)