By REW (Real Estate Wire)
COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on every market and industry, and real estate is no exception. Though we’re still in the early stages and it’s difficult to predict how long coronavirus and the current self-isolation measures will last, REW is committed to supporting you every step of the way.
To start, let’s take a look at how the market has changed during the COVID-19 crisis. In the graphs below, you’ll see data showing the trajectory and drop in market activity since the pandemic began.
How has COVID-19 impacted real estate activity?
Pageviews – the raw number of pages viewed by visitors – are a strong indicator of audience volume and engagement on REW. Below, you can see the week over week page view trend line, generally moving up and to the right on the year so far – until the week of March 8th.
REW was seeing nearly 20 million monthly page views prior to the COVID-19 crisis, with the number increasing month over month since the beginning of 2020. Based on this, it was clear that interest in properties was growing, a clear indicator of strong demand in the residential market. After some brief dips in 2019, 2020 was initially predicted to be a return to form for the real estate market.
As people have had to adjust their regular routines to stay home and self-isolate, we’ve seen a corresponding and immediate impact on engagement with property listings. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen a 21% reduction in audience activity compared to the beginning of March. Comparing the site traffic to the same period in 2019, we see a total of 25% fewer page views overall. However, there is some cause for optimism – the decline is starting to show a small rebound in recent days.
REW is by no means representative of the entire real estate market, but as the number one property site in British Columbia (with regular traffic of over three million visitors per month), it is certainly a clear indicator of the shift in market behaviour at this time.
How has coronavirus affected leads and property enquiries?
Leads and enquiries generated by property shoppers on REW have also seen a decline in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 crisis. Though it’s a small sample size, In the last few days, we’ve seen a decline of nearly 45% in the total amount of property enquiries generated.
Given the current economic uncertainty, most buyers and sellers are likely taking a more cautious ‘wait and see’ approach. However, it’s telling that people are still reaching out to agents. The more serious buyers and sellers – likely those looking for a long-term home rather than a short-term investment opportunity – are still in the market.
Another indicator of behavioural change is the Bounce Rate (how many people leave the site immediately after arriving). This rate usually hovers around 30% for property websites like REW, but has now dropped well below 10%. People that are still in the market and coming to our site are more likely to be serious home seekers, and are spending more time evaluating property listings.his is going to be an interesting part of the property purchase process to observe, as people spend longer in an evaluation phase before moving to make a purchase.
Current Market Takeaways
These are unprecedented times, and it’s impossible to predict exactly how things will play out in the coming weeks and months. Like other industries in North America, the real estate market has never dealt with a true pandemic. However, as Canada continues to take steps to “flatten the curve” and gain more information on how to combat the spread of COVID-19, we will, eventually, see a market rebound. The actual demand for property buying and selling is still very much present – it’s just likely operating on a longer consideration-to-purchase timeline than we’ve seen before.