As a result of COVID-19, housing markets across the country have changed at a rapid pace. The Canadian Real Estate Association confirmed that May 2020 saw the lowest volume of sales since May 1996. However, the housing market bounced back over the summer, partly due to low mortgage rates and partly due to stay at home orders, leading residents to move to larger houses in rural areas July in particular was a record-setting month, with sales rising 26% since June, sales up 30.5% compared with the same month a year ago, and with July 2020 marking the highest sales figure ever on record, 62,355. However, there remains uncertainty as the Fall sets in and the pandemic remains a threat. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, having a real estate agent with decades of experience is crucial when you are making those important decisions. Michelle Kam might just be that realtor.

Starting her career at a relatively young age, Michelle Kam graduated with honours from the York University and immediately started working with Re/Max where she specialized in high end, million dollar properties in the resale market. Falling in love with real estate landscape, Michelle felt especially passionate about working in the urban market, focusing on condos, lofts and townhomes. Feeling grateful to have worked with the best in the business, including Concord Alex and Baker Real Estate, she was able to carve a niche for herself in high volume sales, learning the ins and outs of the pre-sale market.

After amassing a very large loyal client base, Michelle was asked to open her own Brokerage, which she did, receiving her Brokerage License. It was not long after that that she formed an indispensable team of agents, brokers, administrators and assistants. Michelle Kam feels very lucky to do what she does, as does her team. Reflected in every transaction and through their referrals, their determination and steadfast practices have garnered them the recognition of #1 Sales Team for a number of downtown developers for many years.

After owning and running City Accord Realty Inc., Brokerage for over 10 years, in June 2016, Michelle Kam was fortunate enough to come across Jamie Johnston, Owner of Re/Max Condos Plus, and decided to jump onto the Re/Max brand. Michelle explains that it has been a wonderful accomplishment to add to her career in real estate.

What is it about real estate that you love?

Everyone has a strong association with the word ‘home’, and I am no different. Your home, neighbourhood, and community shape who you are, and being able to connect people with the home of their dreams brings me a great sense of satisfaction. Our home is where we make our strongest memories, and being able to match the requirements, needs, and goals of a family with a home is a deeply satisfying job. In addition, I am great at what I do—that is deeply satisfying as well! I also love the investment side of the business which I do a lot of work on. I enjoy having clients make healthy profits that add to their lifestyles and net worth.

What makes you different?

As a real estate agent, my personal goal is to make every transaction as smooth and as memorable for my clients as possible. To me, it is not just another sale. I go above and beyond because I not only enjoy what I do, but want to help create a memorable experience for the biggest buying decision some people will ever make. Above all else, I value outstanding customer service and always extend my personal attention to caring for my clients’ wishes.

How has the real estate market changed since COVID-19?

The Province of Ontario closed all non-essential businesses as of March 24th, 2020, and as a result, the real estate market took a significant hit. Despite brokerages and real estate agents being declared essential services, that did not change reluctance from buyers and sellers amid uncertain economic conditions. According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, home sales were down 69 percent in the first 17 days of April compared with a year ago.

In addition, home sales outside of Toronto have surged—possibly as a result of remote working opportunities. In the top seven municipalities that saw the biggest growth, sales are up roughly 40 percent over last year, over the past six weeks. We’ve seen the lows and the highs of the market.

What do you predict will happen?

Of course, it is difficult to say, as we are still technically in the midst of a pandemic. No two forecasts are the same, so it is anybody’s guess at this point. However, just last month we saw record sales figures in housing and the average price of houses is rising at the fastest pace since 2017. The housing market is hot right now with a lot bidding wars. While most times you can say it is either a buyer’s or a seller’s market, I don’t know if we’ve ever seen a time where it’s both. With low mortgage rates, it’s a great time to buy a house, but it’s also a great time to sell given the high demand for housing and the increase in prices. I think we’ll have a clearer picture within the next three months as the Fall sets in and our society as a whole continues to adjust to our new reality.

How has COVID-19 changed day-to-day real estate?

As Ontario just moved into Stage 3 of the reopening plan, open houses are now being green lighted, but what that looks like is going to change. Sellers who agree to the open house have to sanitize the home prior to a showing. Potential buyers have to answer questionnaires and sign waivers about any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19. There are visitor logs for contact tracing, mask requirements, and a reduced need to touch doors and light switches. It has changed the way we interact with clients, but I am optimistic that we will find a way to continue to make the experience impactful for our clients.

Is it a good time to buy?

With interest rates at historic lows, if you are able to buy and hold a home for medium to long-term, this is a great time to buy. With a lot of companies adopting a permanent work from home model, many people are leaving the city and entering the suburbs and rural communities. Housing is hot and I would say it is a really good time to buy.

How can people make good buying decisions in the current market?

Work with a real estate agent that you trust. Working with someone who knows the ins-and-outs of the market can help you cut through all of the noise and will understand how far your dollar will go based on your situation and needs. They can provide you with the facts, data, and insights that match your personal or investing buying decision.

What criteria should people use to find a good agent?

Ask thoughtful questions: ‘How well do you know this area?’ or ‘How many homes have you helped sell or purchase in this area in the last year?’. You can also ask for referrals—any great real estate agent will not hesitate to provide them! You will be working closely with whoever you choose, so follow your gut and intuition as well.