Are we back to normal?

Covid-19 has changed us. It has changed the business of buying and selling real estate. At the beginning of the pandemic, while most people were rolling up their carpets and closing their businesses, real estate agents were rolling up their sleeves and providing an essential service to their clients. This left the Calgary Real Estate Board needing to change the rules of practice to ensure safety for all. For example, how is a highly infectious global virus going to be handled when people come to view a home, when an offer is submitted, or when a buyer wants to see a house?

Protocols were put in place quickly. Covid-19 questionnaires were completed, hold harmless agreements were signed. Open houses ceased to exist. No more could we travel in a car with a client. Financial transactions became electronic. Virtual tours were advised over private showings.

The first time I heard of Covid-19 was earlier in the year. My husband and I were in Victoria celebrating our wedding anniversary. A few days prior to our arrival, the first Covid-19 case appeared in BC. We weren’t alarmed, we didn’t fearfully hunker down in our hotel room. We had no idea of what the virus was to become, so we enjoyed Victoria’s pubs and restaurants, unknowingly breathing in droplets and touching surfaces. We enjoyed our time there, marking the start of the year with a pandemic. Not all anniversaries can be that memorable.

We returned home where, instead of working on my database of amazing clients, I found myself engrossed with the news of the day. I think if an entire continent had slid into the ocean and disappeared, it wouldn’t have had as much coverage as Covid-19 did. I was entranced with every story, changing channels as quickly as doctors changed their opinions on masks. I’d blurt out (to myself), “Not a total lockdown! How will people afford to eat? What will they eat? Why does a respiratory illness give you diarrhea?” Things like that. Endless panels of experts zoomed in from all over the world, talking about what they didn’t know while claiming to know everything, I was sure the only way back to reality was less TV and more aerobic activity.

Meanwhile, I showed houses. My buyers felt the timing was good for them. One couple said, “Maybe we’ll find a deal. After all, who in their right mind sells a home during a pandemic?” Turns out, quite a few. Part of the seller’s logic could have been – selling now is better than later, prices will likely come down. It may very well have been the perfect storm, but instead sales plummeted for those few months.

Then in June the province started a relaunch recovery plan. I must state the obvious to those that are excited about this news, listen up…the virus is still here. Yes, you may still end up on a ventilator while the rest of Calgary is open for business. We are relaunched and yet I’m wearing a mask in an empty mall instead of lipstick, and being sprayed with alcohol instead of wearing my perfume. I am a little concerned about getting this virus. If I feel feverish or have a sore throat I run to the medicine cabinet to fetch the thermometer. Often, I can be found in the fridge smelling peanut butter just to make sure I haven’t lost my sense of smell. If I cough at night, it’s either Whooping Cough or Covid-19. Either way, I’m smelling peanut butter.

We started to see real estate sales go back up in June. Prior to this, sellers were glued to Global News waiting to see if they should just torch their houses and head for the hills. We surprisingly have seen some homes go to multiple offers, some selling above their list price. Even now sales are fairly good, even with challenges still facing the people of our city. Things have the appearance of going back to normal, when in fact I believe this is the new abnormal. I think it’s more realistic, particularly during a pandemic to keep expectations low and hopes high. Covid-19 will do what viruses do, it will take over a host cell, multiply and make people sick. It does this without conscience or restraint. The virus jumps from one person to the next, even as we all so diligently try to avoid each other. I like to call this the new warm and fuzzy.

I bought a greeting card awhile ago and kept it for the right moment. That moment has arrived. It shows a little girl looking up at her mother, “Mommy, what’s normal?” The mother answers her, “It’s a setting on the dryer, dear.” I think that’s about as close to normal as we’re going to get.