On the morning of Friday, July 8, real estate agent Tyler Hassman was waiting to hear from a client about submitting an offer on a Calgary investment property with a 9 a.m. deadline. When 8:30 a.m. rolled around and there's was no word from the typically responsive client, Hassman was confused. By 8:50, he began to worry the client had changed their mind about the purchase.

"I thought maybe they got cold feet, but then I noticed my texts weren't actually delivering," Hassman said. "Then I tried calling and got sent to voicemail."

The 9 a.m. deadline came and went, and the property went to another buyer.

Hassman says he didn't become aware of the nation-wide Rogers outage until he tried to pay for gas with a debit card and it wouldn't go through, thanks to the subsequent Interac outage. With providers like Telus and Shaw being the big players in Calgary, Hassman's service was completely unaffected. But having a large client base in Ontario, including the client he hadn't heard from, his day was very much thrown off kilter. It wasn't until later on Friday that the client, who works in the Toronto tech industry and was inundated with work-related issues themselves, was able to finally get in contact with him.

Hassman's lost sale was an extremely unfortunate result of Friday's Rogers outage, but sadly was just one of many upsets for the real estate industry that day.

Toronto-based real estate agent Milan Mitrovic woke up to both his phone and Wi-Fi services not working. After an initial panic, he was luckily able to connect to a hotspot in his condo. Although the hotspot gave him access to the internet, it meant he was tethered to it as his only means to stay in touch with clients and other agents. Trying to make plans with clients, he said, was "an absolute nightmare."

"As realtors, we were always on the go, so it's absolutely essential for us to have our communication systems in place at all times, because things change just like that," Mitrovic said. "I can only imagine how many offers, how many listings were either delayed or fell through entirely because of the outage."

"A Lot of Anxiety and Panic"

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board was unable to say exactly how much of a drop in sales and listing activity there was on Friday as the agency does not collect daily data. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and Realtor.ca were, thankfully, unaffected by the outage because neither server is on the Rogers network, CREA confirmed to STOREYS.

But on the agent side, getting through the day posed new challenges at every turn. Realtor Justin Havre said that roughly half of his team of 65 agents were on a Rogers phone plan, meaning the outage had a significant impact for them. Not only did it make getting in touch with anyone exponentially more difficult, but even if agents were able to get in touch with clients and arrange a property showing, actually getting into the property became a headache.

"We use a lockbox system that is reliant on data access through your cell phone because it's an authentication process that happens between your phone and the lockbox," Havre said. "So that created some challenges for sure. Many showings did end up just canceling."

Similar issues arose when there was a property that clients had closed on and were trying to have the keys released to them.

"That, again, created another challenge where you would have to communicate via email and just hope that the party on the other side had access to internet on their device," Havre said. "It was hectic day, a lot of anxiety and panic because of the inability to conduct business the way that we typically do."

Vancouver-based agent Sharen Dhaliwal also awoke to no mobile or Wi-Fi service, with her outage lasting all the way through Saturday morning. She was similarly plagued with issues of not being able to submit offers and struggling to gain access to lockboxes. But an additional challenge she felt was actually getting to properties in the first place.

"When we're driving, we use GPS a lot of the time, so it was very difficult to get around to different homes," Dhaliwal said. "I actually stopped off at a Tim Horton's and I got some Wi-Fi and my directions that way."

The agents across the board agreed that the early hours of the day were filled with stress and panic, which isn't too surprising for an industry so heavily reliant on mobile communication. Havre noted feeling like agents were checking their phones every 30 seconds to see if they had service restored.

But as the hours of no service dragged on, concerns over how much damage the outage could do became worse.

"There was an understanding of like, okay, there's an issue but it's going to get solved, but when it kept going on for hours and hours and hours, that's when I started being like, okay, if this goes on for a couple of days, that's a lot of revenue and potential deals we're going to lose out on," Hassman said.

As service began to come back Friday evening, the agents said that they were able to get to work and make up for any lost time. Apart from Hassman's lost investment deal, each one was able to successfully submit offers for clients the following day and reschedule missed showings.

"We were able to kind of make up for that over the weekend," Dhaliwal said. "But it was quite busy."

Real Estate News