Even with how much uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic is causing, Canadians are starting to show more interest in buying a new home – though, that hasn't always been the case during the lockdown.

When physical distancing orders were first enacted, the initial response from potential homebuyers to the pandemic caused traffic on new listing websites to take a nosedive. But as the panic and uncertainty began to subside, those interested in buying a new home resumed their online searching. As a result, online searches for homes have gone up – reaching and even surpassing pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report from Point2 Homes.

However, despite the rebound, Point2 Homes says many potential homebuyers are still reluctant to take the buying process to the next step.

And since the pandemic has slowed down all traditional home showings, agents are offering clients virtual tours and 3D listings, which still doesn't make up for the in-person experience.

To get a better understanding of homebuyers’ attitudes and to see how their behaviour is influencing the buying and selling processes, Point2 Homes has been monitoring the traffic on their website and surveyed homebuyers, beginning shortly after the first containment measures were taken.

READ: New Report Suggests the Toronto Real Estate Market is Entering a ‘Slump Phase’

Through the survey, Point2 Homes found that visits on the website jumped a staggering 117% on May 18, compared to March 23 when homebuyer sentiment was at its lowest and traffic took the sharpest blow. What's more, visits on the platform are up 42% year-over-year for the week of May 17-23, bringing the traffic numbers back in line with seasonal trends and marking a new milestone in the website’s growth.

At the beginning of April, just weeks after the pandemic first began, Point2 Homes, found real estate-related searches like "house for sale," "cheap homes" and "condos for sale" started spiking again on Google.

READ: What Real Estate Agents Are Doing to Keep Showings Safe During COVID-19

However, the increase in online interest didn't necessarily translate into offline activity and the percentage of Canadians who are considering buying a home decreased from 31% at the end of March to 25% at the end of April, showing that home seekers’ inability to buy their dream home is allowing some pessimism to seep in, according to Point2 Homes.

The percentage of Canadians who intend to buy in the next six months also decreased significantly, dropping from 31% to 24%, showing that the motivation to purchase a new home is fading. Of those determined to buy in the next six months, 37% are considering looking for less expensive homes, up from 27% at the end of March.

What the survey findings show us is that many potential home buyers are still curious about the housing market and going online to see what's currently available. While Point2 Homes found that few are moving forward with their purchase, perhaps many of these buyers will pick up where they left off when more of the economy has reopened and things have returned to normal, and as Point2 Homes said, "the potential for a remarkable year in real estate might not be lost quite yet lost."

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  • Data for the evolution of traffic was sourced from www.point2homes.com.
  • The survey for homebuyers included five multiple-choice and rating questions and was available to prospective homebuyers between March 23 and April 29, 2020.
  • A total of 11,819 prospective homebuyers answered all the survey questions and provided valid answers.
  • This survey was anonymous; all data was aggregated for the final results.
  • All percentages were rounded. As a result, percentages presented for each question in this report may not add up to exactly 100%.
  • Previous traffic reports and surveys: March Traffic ReportHomebuyer Sentiment SurveyReal Estate Agent Sentiment Survey.
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