[From The Toronto Sun, click here for original story.]
The real estate purchasing process has completely changed because of COVID-19, and not just temporarily, possibly forever.
Even now with sales centres across the GTA finally able to open, but with strict health and safety requirements such as social distancing and the mandatory wearing of face masks in place, much of the buying public appears ready to give them a miss and embrace the power of digital instead.
Freddy Mak, vice president of sales and marketing with Trulife Developments, says that since most people are now technologically savvy regardless of their age, there is a “more and more acceptance of purchasing real estate this way.”
An example of that is the upcoming launch of the company’s latest condominium project, 8188 Yonge, a 12-storey, 282-unit structure, being developed in collaboration with Constantine Enterprises Inc.
Located in Thornhill at the corner of Yonge St. and Royal Orchard Blvd., Mak expects the majority of sales will come via an Internet connection and virtual tours as opposed to the traditional way of selling a unit.
“Real estate is an old industry where typically everything has been done the same for many years,” he says. “Now, an incredible shift is taking place.”
That shift has come because of several factors including stay-at home restrictions that have forced even those people who shied away from technology in the past to become technologically-savvy.
That, in turn, has provided both developers and real estate agents with an opportunity to continue selling properties even during a pandemic.
In the case of 8188 Yonge, Trulife and Constantine plan to conduct a full marketing campaign and sales rollout next month digitally, something Mak says is going to become the benchmark for how sales initiatives should happen in both the near term and long after COVID-19 has vanished.
“The key lies in having the right mix of content inclusive of renderings and virtual tours,” he says.
“Technology is so robust in high definition that you can tour the sales centre digitally and zoom into finishes and see the very small details of what they will look like. It is crystal clear. As a result of advances, people no longer need to go into a traditional sales centre.”
While there will be a sales office open by appointment only, he expects the bulk of the sales will be through virtual tours of the building and individual units.
And when it comes to a physical sale that too will happen via digital signatures between the various parties.
“Everyone gets their copies digitally and everyone signs digitally,” says Mak. “It completely removes the need to meet in person to sign documentation.
“I would also not be surprised if we sold 100 per cent of the building digitally. Ease of use of technology is key.”
Meanwhile, with pricing expected to start in the upper $400,000s, unit features at 8188 Yonge will include private balconies and terraces with the option to choose from custom balcony design packages, availability of smart thermostats and smart cameras, floor to ceiling windows, custom kitchen millwork and “spa-inspired” washrooms with glass shower, custom vanity and quarts countertops.
Shared space features include an indoor fitness and wellness centre, entertainment lounge with built-in catering kitchen, outdoor children’s play area, 24-hour concierge, dog park, and roof deck entertainment space with a wrap-around terrace equipped with furniture and BBQs for entertaining.
The building itself is scheduled to be completed by 2023.