During times of crisis, one day may feel like a week and events that may have taken six months are now unfolding in rapid succession over the course of a few days. But is this true for prospective homebuyers and the homebuying process? How are they adapting to the current situation and the rapidly changing rules?
To get a sense of how home seekers are going about looking for a home or handling the buying process, or if they are putting everything on hold, we conducted a flash survey of 5,000 Home visitors. We asked about the changes in the buying process and what changes, if any, buyers are planning to make following the outbreak.
Despite current events, homebuyer sentiment remains moderately optimistic, with almost half of respondents saying the only change they will be making is they will focus more on online pictures and virtual tours, and almost six in ten prospective buyers state they would still like to buy in the next six to twelve months.
Although only 12% of Point2 Homes visitors are actively searching for a property, 44% stated they are still keeping an eye on the market, making sure they are up to speed with the changes and 17% simply toned down their efforts. Among those who are definitely putting the process on hold are the 20% home seekers who said they will stop searching until the outbreak is over and the 7% who answered that “they will probably stop searching for the time being.”
Those who want to buy in the next six months represent the majority at 31%, showing that people are still hopeful the crisis will be over soon. They are followed closely by respondents who stated that they would like to close a deal in the next twelve months (26%). 27% of survey takers have not made a decision yet. They may be waiting for the market to stabilize again or for some signs that everything is going back to normal. Only 15% of survey takers are more reluctant, saying that buying a home is much further in the future, five years from now or more.
Respondents are still largely calm about the process of buying a new home, with 35% stating they have no concerns in particular at the time of the survey. However, they are followed closely, at 34%, by prospective homebuyers who have some worries about their future financial situation, which may affect their homebuying decisions. An almost equal share of home seekers (13%) are worried about the number of available properties, and whether they will have enough options to choose from, and also about their health and safety during the process.
When asked about the changes they noticed are happening during the homebuying process, 35%, the majority, stated that they haven’t noticed any changes. 29% expect some changes in the near future, in the form of delays and an overall slowdown, while 24% stated they will probably start looking for cheaper homes.
When asked about the changes they themselves intend to make while looking for a home, given the new measures aimed at containing the outbreak, almost five in ten prospective home buyers (48%) stated they will move more of the process online: a bigger focus on online pictures and virtual tours. A further 6% said they will rely more on their real estate agent, while 27% plan to go on without making any major changes.
When breaking down and analyzing survey takers’ answers by age, we noticed an almost perfect direct correlation between age and an overall optimism about buying: the younger the respondents, the higher the chances that they are still interested in buying and actively looking for properties. The most indecisive, on the other hand, were respondents aged 45-54 and 55-64, half of which stated that they don’t know whether they should keep looking or just put everything on hold.
While the country is edging closer to full lockdown by the day, provinces still have the power to decide how drastic will be the measures they impose to limit the spread of the outbreak. The differences in homebuyers’ sentiment and outlook tell different stories, depending on which metro we focus on: if in Metro Montreal, 34% of survey takers state they are still actively looking for a home, in Vancouver that percentage drops to 18%. Those who answered a resounding ‘No’ to this question, however, seem to constitute an almost equal share of respondents in all five metro areas.
What the future, or merely the next few days will bring, remains to be seen.
The 5-question survey was posted on the Point2 Homes website between March 23rd and 25th. There were 5081 usable answers. All percentages were rounded.