Real estate sales in March 2020 were strong despite the COVID-19 pandemic but sale are likely to slow in April. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Open houses discouraged as Chilliwack realtors look for a way forward

March saw strong sales but April likely to see lower numbers

Home sales amid a global pandemic are sure to drop and the industry is joining others in the move to a virtual sales model.

As physical distancing is urged, touching of surfaces is discouraged, imagine how challenging it is to hold an open house as the COVID-19 virus moves across the community.

“While Realtors post photos of their listings, many are adding or enhancing virtual tours on their listings during this time of self-isolation,” Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB) president Kim Parley said in a press release. “It’s a great way to view a property from the safety of your home, learn all the specifications and be poised to view it either now with the safety regulations in place, or at a later date.”

CADREB has “strongly recommended” that open houses are not put on at this time, and they will not be posted on to help discourage the practice.

When homes are viewed, real estate agents have been instructed to wear gloves and sanitize any touch points when they leave such as door handles and light switches.

As for local real estate sales, they were brisk in March with 267 completed sales, mostly in the first half of the month. That number compares to 209 sales in March 2019, but the 267 number is right around the 10-year average.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack real estates sales still slumping as prices stay steady

CADREB said listings are expected to drop as many sellers whose listing expires will opt to wait until the social distancing rules are changed. The board does not, however, expect prices to drop as the prediction is that when the market starts to rebound, there will be pent-up demand, particularly with such attractive mortgage rates currently being offered.

Of the 267 home sales in March, the most sold (29) were in the $450,000 to $499,999 range, followed by 27 sales in the $400,000 to $449,999 range. There were 14 sales over the $1 million mark, including one over $2 million.

Sales of single family homes remain the dominant choice in the CADREB area – which includes Chilliwack, Cultus Lake, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Boston Bar and the rural areas in between – with 145 sales compared to 69 townhouses and 26 apartments, the latter being the only segment down year over year from 34 in 2019.

The average sale price of a home in the CADREB area last month was $558,529, which compares to $525,401 a year ago. Single family homes continue to lead the way with 54 per cent of all homes sold for an average price of $602,382, which is down from $650,314 a year ago.

The average sale price of the 69 townhouses sold last month was $461,800 and the 26 apartments were sold for $273,560.

Listings are down to 944 at the end of the last month from 1,374 a year ago.

CADREB president Kim Parley suggested that since housing is a necessity, the market will rebound,

“Pent up demand, current low mortgage rates should create a busy market when social distancing rules are changed,” the board president said.

“Above all at this time, be safe, be healthy and make wise choices.”

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