How to Buy & Sell Real Estate in the Age of COVID-19

Overview: advice for buying and selling real estate during the COVID-19 crisis, including a look at the tools and strategies realtors can employ to ensure safe, successful transactions.

Toronto skyline at dusk.

How will COVID-19 affect Toronto’s booming real estate market?

COVID-19 has disrupted everything—from the monumental, such as our jobs and social lives, to the minute, like getting a haircut.

Real estate is no exception.

On March 21st, The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) called for a suspension of open houses in order to protect the public’s health and safety.

So in this time of social distancing, is it possible (or even a good idea) to buy or sell property?

The answer is yes, but different times call for different measures.

Fortunately, real estate agents have a variety of marketing tools and strategies that can help.

Let’s take a look at what these are….

Virtual Tours

Young woman wearing virtual reality headset to show virtual tours during COVID-19.

Virtual tours provide sellers a safe way to showcase their property and an immersive means for buyers to experience them.

According to Global News:

Even before COVID-19, virtual tours were becoming more and more popular. Some buyers are comfortable purchasing without seeing properties in person. Others, who have plenty of cash at hand, are undeterred by the economic outlook…

Although it’s hard to believe anyone would buy a home without first seeing it, it’s actually quite common.

For example, people buy pre-construction condos based off nothing more than floor plans and 3D models.

Virtual tours are also an effective tool for reaching international buyers.

Mansion Global reports:

Foreign buyers have been engaging in virtual reality showings for a long time… Over the past four or five years, we’ve seen more international clients purchase homes sight unseen….

Virtual tours appeal to investors as well:

Investors, however, are more likely to buy via a virtual tour since they don’t plan to live in the property…

Because investors view property as an asset rather than a home, they’re much more likely to buy it “sight unseen.”

Virtual tours are just one way realtors can help sellers attract buyers during this outbreak.

Video Marketing

Handing holding clapperboard showing video marketing during COVID-19.

Like virtual tours, video marketing has been growing in popularity (Pixabay).

Some quick stats:

  • Real estate listings with video get 403% more inquiries than non-video listings

  • 85% of buyers and sellers prefer a real estate agent who uses video marketing

  • 70% of all homebuyers watch video tours before buying a property

Video creation platform Biteable asks:

Does video really sell houses? The stats all point towards ‘yes’. Videos attract 300% more traffic for nurturing leads.

The facts are clear: video is a powerful marketing tool in the realtor’s belt.

I should know—I’ve been using it successfully for years.

For example, I utilized video content in two of my most recent condo sales: 21 Nelson and 1 Bloor.

Besides including videos on my website, I also upload them to YouTube—the world’s second largest search engine.

This gives sellers far more exposure than local ads, since their property can be viewed all around the world.

In short: video marketing is a versatile medium, allowing buyers to experience a home without stepping foot in it.

Walking Video Tours

Man in house holding selfie stick with phone.

Buyers may not be able to visit open houses, but we can bring open houses to them (Pixabay).

Another way real estate agents like me are working around COVID-19 closures is through “walking video tours.”

Unlike regular videos, which are pre-recorded, walking video tours are live events.

Buyers can simply hop on a video call using Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or other programs, and agents guide them through the property, showing off whatever the buyer wants to see.

Want a closer look at the bathroom? No problem. Is that kitchen counter marble or granite? Let me show you. How big is the backyard? Take a look.

This real-time exchange gives buyers a greater sense of control over their purchase.

They can see things not shown in photos and videos, ask any questions they want, and get direct answers.

So while COVID-19 prevents buyers from attending open houses, walking video tours are the next best thing.

Social Media Marketing

Blackboard with names of social media platforms written in colourful chalk.

Social media has never been more important than in the age of COVID-19 (Pixabay).

In a time when people are being ordered to physically distance themselves, social media helps bring them together.

As PRWeek puts it:

Coronavirus means isolation. And isolation means social media… The COVID-19 outbreak is making us spend more time on all those platforms we’re already addicted to….

While open houses are prohibited, realtors can take advantage of various social media platforms to reach interested buyers.

Just how effective is social media to selling your home?

Sprout Social declares:

[The] importance of social media for real estate really can’t be overstated. …social has become integral to scoring clients and closing deals across the industry.

For example: 99% of Millennials and 90% of baby boomers start their home search online. 47% of real estate agents also find their best leads through social media.

Those numbers will only increase in the coming months.

In fact, since the COVID-19 outbreak began Facebook has seen a 50% jump in usage while Instagram impressions rose 22%.

As someone who uses social media marketing extensively, I know how effective it can be in helping homeowners find buyers—now more than ever.

Other COVID-19 Tools & Strategies

Besides the above, I also have the following technology and resources at my disposal:

  • Digital brochures to highlight the best features of a property

  • In-depth blog posts which combine stunning visuals with vital information

  • Video conferencing so buyers and sellers can talk “face-to-face”

  • Phone calls and text messages to answer any questions you may have

  • e-signatures so buyers and sellers can sign legal documents

  • A network of lawyers and financial experts to ensure everything is in order

A great looking website with lots of visuals is also a must. For example, check out this Vancouver realtor website.

Conclusion: COVID-19 & Toronto Real Estate

Toronto skyline from Lake Ontario for COVID-19 conclusion.

The impact of COVID-19 on Toronto’s housing market has been massive (Pixabay).

However, realtors have adapted to this new reality by using the latest marketing tools and technology.

Although open houses are suspended, the entire buying and selling process can be done online.

Investopedia explains:

Buying a home remotely is becoming increasingly common these days. It has been standard practice for some time in the real estate world…

Everything from property tours and legal consultations to making payments can be done digitally.

But is anyone still interested in buying?

In a March 23 article titled “Prices continue to soar in Toronto real estate market — despite COVID-19 crisis,” the Toronto Star declares:

To many people’s surprise, Toronto’s real estate market is showing few signs of slowing down, despite the mounting crisis.

Need proof? Check out this condo I just sold.

Looking to buy, sell, rent or lease a home in Toronto? I have the tools and resources to help. Simply contact me below!


Wins Lai
Real Estate Broker
Living Realty Inc., Brokerage

m: 416.903.7032 p: 416.975.9889
f: 416.975.0220
a: 7 Hayden Street Toronto, M4Y 2P2
w: e: [email protected]
*Top Producer (Yonge and Bloor Branch) – 2017, 2018, 2019


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