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June 4, 2020
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Pattie Lovett-Reid: Three real estate trends emerging from the coronavirus pandemic

TORONTO — There is little doubt COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on more than one wedding this season. And while I’m truly disappointed for couples who had big plans for their special day, the average cost of a wedding is not insignificant. Using a rough estimate, let’s call it approximately $30,000. This is a big expense for one day, plus a honeymoon. Saving this sort of money takes discipline and hard work. Marriage is a huge milestone and can be celebrated in many ways.

1. In a unexpected twist, couples planning to tie the knot — while disappointed their wedding plans have been cancelled due to COVID-19 — are not letting that money sit idly. COVID-19 is not stopping them from building their life together emotionally and financially.

According to Rakhee Dhringra, CEO of Mortgage Savvy, “We recently had the pleasure of assisting a few first-time homebuyers who were scheduled to get married this summer. Unfortunately, due to the current environment they had to postpone their wedding. Based on the money they received back from their deposit cheques, they were able to allocate those funds towards buying their first home — one where their family can build long-lasting memories and grow into long-term.”

2. Another emerging trend is the backyard and home renovation. It is safe to say many are hesitant to travel this year until at least a vaccine is found and the result — a staycation option. Rakhee herself has been putting off her backyard reno in favour of travel but has decided this year the travel budget is being shifted toward home investment.

She went on to say, “during COVID-19, we’ve been able to support many clients on the refinancing front. By leveraging existing equity in their homes, many clients have been able to do some much needed home renovations. Doing so, not only gives them the opportunity to invest back into their home and appreciate the overall value of their property, but also design their home to reflect more of their current needs.”

Weeks of isolation has given us a very clear idea of where we spend our time in our home and highlights what has worked and what has been working as well. Our son Kev and his wife Ellen are literally expecting their second child in days. Currently living in a two-bedroom home is ideal for their current situation but are concerned as the family grows and did I mention their two dogs, their home isn’t going to be as ideal as it once was. Thoughts of moving were explored and then tempered by the sheer logistics of it during a pandemic and the costs. Their solution is to build on the existing structure with great savings from the land transfer tax costs combined with real estate fees being redirected towards their home renovation.

For families that are growing, backyards that have overgrown, and with more Canadians working from home, a renovation can be both financially savvy and emotionally satisfying.

3. Cottage life isn’t for everyone and travel to the cottage due to the pandemic has been restricted in some communities for now. However, that hasn’t stopped people from exploring in a low-interest rate environment a second or even investment property. Land, water, fresh air and no air travel can be very appealing. It is still early days however, based on the number of requests I’ve had — 3 to date from people thinking about buying in cottage country, you know waterfront supply and demand will soon kick in and prices will continue trend higher.

Real estate for most is our largest asset and our greatest liability. But our home is so much more, it is also a place of pride and comfort. During periods of difficulty hunkering down in your home can have a calming influence in a time when you feel you have little control over much else.

These may be just a few of the early and unintentional trends in real estate that have evolved out of a pandemic but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing.

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