How The Pandemic Will Forever Change The Real Estate Landscape Of Our City

Covid has changed every facet of our lives these past few years, and we will feel the impact for many years to come. It's been incredibly difficult for everyone to adapt, change, and find new ways to navigate through our worlds besides just surviving it. Parents, homeowners, kids, and entrepreneurs are all trying to make sense of what has happened and how to move forward into our future. The way we live, work, learn, and play is forever changed, which has major impacts on our economy and our real estate market. This is what I foresee here at home in Saskatchewan. And though many of these changes were slowly coming our way anyway, this virus has forced us to adapt and accept a lot more quickly than we may have expected.

Retail Spaces

Local brick and mortar stores took a significant blow this year, but that was to be expected since they were already feeling the pinch thanks to the big box store's online presence and rock-bottom prices. It's incredibly difficult to compete against the likes of Amazon, and local businesses needed to adapt or die in a damn hurry even to stay alive. Online purchasing options are now an absolute MUST to break even or turn over a small profit. Some businesses realized that they can still make a go of it operating out of their residences and move solely to online and delivery, or either cost-sharing space with other like-minded companies. Sadly, we saw some of our treasured old favorites just flat-out throw in the towel. We have already seen a drastic increase in retail spaces for sale and lease in the city, and we anticipate more in the months to come.

Corporate Office Towers

Office towers in the city have been sitting empty as major corporations pause and analyze if all this square footage is even necessary anymore. Many companies are reporting productivity levels have either been on par or have even exceeded expectations with employees working from their own homes and will question if leasing an entire floor of a building is still a necessity. Moving forward, we foresee employees provided the option to work from home, full or part-time, or job-share as a great way to help them navigate these waters while staying safe and remaining productive. This also opens up the opportunity for companies to hire outside of the geographical talent pool. The right candidate for the job can work from virtually anywhere and doesn't have to be tied to a suitable commuting distance. There are significant adverse impacts to empty buildings; however, the biggest one is the lack of local business spin-off in Regina's downtown. As fewer people work in Regina's downtown, more vacancies will arise, hurting all the businesses in the area.

Restaurant Space

What a major blow the local restaurant industry took this year, but those who embraced online ordering and delivery options have made it manageable. Those restaurants that are known for their strong service and provide an incredible dining experience will be the ones that make it through this. In the future, restaurants will closely examine their layouts to maximize the number of patrons with safety in mind or maybe do away with the dining area altogether and focus on incredible food and delivery.

Residential Homes

We've been doing everything in our homes these past two years. Baking, exercising, creating, working, teaching, learning. We quickly realized what our homes were lacking, whether that was privacy, square footage, or outdoor space. Despite what many were thinking, we experienced record-high sales in 2021, well over the 10-year average. Why is this? Many variables played into this, such as those re-evaluating their travel budgets, low-interest rates, and a little claustrophobia of needing more space and functionality than their current living situation was providing. Pent-up demand continued from the year before where we were at a stand-still during the lockdown. Recreational properties also saw a drastic surge since many realize that quiet isolation at a place that offers outdoor fun to make family memories may be the only safe "get away" for the next number of years. The low amount of single-family homes for sale flipped the market dominated by buyers to one that is a fierce seller’s market. The homes that are selling quickly are quality, solid single-family properties that have at least three bedrooms and two baths with a garage and some private yard space predominantly in the $280,000-$300,000 range. Owners that took great care of their properties and have done an exceptional job cleaning and de-cluttering making a great first impression are rewarded. Many neighborhoods have seen multiple offer scenarios during this pandemic.

One thing is for sure; people are strongly re-evaluating their current layouts, whether that means renovating, adding-on, or flat out making a move. A dedicated home office is on many people's wish lists, along with a backyard that is fun and relaxing for the whole family to enjoy. Location is also critical for those wanting to enjoy walking paths and open spaces. Since families were spending so much time in their homes, we saw a lot of people sprucing up their current digs, whether it was tackling the "honey-do" list, taking home organization on with a vengeance, or completely updating that tired and dated living room with some new decor and paint.

We have definitely felt an uptick in residential home sales this past year, mostly on positive notes, but we know that there are also many people financially hurting from this. We know what can come of that burden as well. Mortgage defaults, bankruptcy, and separations are on the rise too. We also have to acknowledge this variable and its repercussions on our economy and real estate market. It's too soon to tell how these negative factors will impact our market, but it's close on our radar.

It's tough to predict what will happen in the next few months. Everything depends on how quickly we can manage this new wave. It depends on how our leaders will guide us through this uncharted territory. It depends on how we, as a community, can pull together, help one another. It depends if we can learn to live with this new normal. Support local if you can. Be safe and follow protocols. Work on the little things to help you and your friends and family get through this one day at a time. We've been in survival mode for months, and now it's time to begin thinking about how we can flourish again.

Reach out if you need help navigating these crazy waters.

Jessica Dunn - REALTOR® | 306.531.8578 | [email protected]

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