Home Buying or Selling During COVID-19

By: Sylvia Smith

Home Buying or Selling During COVID-19



We are currently living through unprecedented uncertain times which are creating anxiety and stress for many people throughout the world.  

In the earlier part of 2020, we experienced a huge spike in demand for real estate and many folks bought or sold homes then.  In mid-March, Ontario began to experience the impact of the coronavirus and the real estate market began to slow down.  

For anyone that bought or sold a home in the first 2.5 months of this year they are now facing one of two challenges:

  1. They sold a home and now are at risk of closing on their home without having a home to move into and as a result, are at risk of being homeless.
  2. They bought a home thinking that the market is hot and they won’t have any problems selling their home.  But the market has slowed down so now they are at risk of having to carry two homes.  Hence carrying two mortgages, double utilities, insurance, and property taxes.
These two groups of people are as result keeping the real estate market going and we are still seeing new listings come on the market and homes selling and at times still selling in bidding wars.  

Real Estate is an Essential Service

Real estate

As a result, real estate has been identified as a critical service to support home buyers and sellers through the above noted two challenging circumstances.

Realtors are doing what we can to support clients through these difficult times.  Open Houses have however recently been restricted to reduce the traffic going through homes.  In addition, most listing realtors are screening buyer realtors to ensure that no one is ill or at risk of being ill and also providing hand sanitization and plastic gloves to protest their clients while they are showing or viewing homes.  In addition, we are reinforcing the criticalness of social distancing.

Important Clauses to Include In Protecting Buyers and Sellers

Homes for Sale and clauses to protect buyers
Should a client buy or sell a home during the COVIT-19 pandemic buyers and sellers need to be aware that should the severity of the coronavirus continue to escalate and we end up going into total lockdown they may run into challenges closing that are completely out of their control?   

Clauses should be included in the Agreement of Purchase to cover the following possible situations:
  1. Delay of closing if either party is quarantined and cannot sign – if buyer or seller is unable to close due to quarantine clause should allow for an extension of the closing day up to 14 days (quarantine period)
  2. Delay in closing if third parties are unable to close – there could also be situations where the buyer’s or seller’s respective solicitors, lenders and/or banks, or Land Registry Office becomes subject to mandatory closure at the time of closing that closing date can be adjusted to accommodate this potential situation.
  3. Delay of closing and Tittle Insurance –there could possibly be a delay at land registration that would affect that actual registration date from the contemplated closing date.  In this instance, the seller and buyer agree to extend the closing date to the earliest possible date.
  4. Delay of Move-Out – in the event that the movers are unable to complete the move due to COVID-19 government restrictions by the government the seller agrees to make other arrangements with family and or friends to ensure vacant possession at the closing date.
Buying and selling a home under normal circumstances can be a stressful time. 
But during the COVID-19 pandemic steps can be taken to ensure that clients’ personal challenges are addressed and that clients are protected.