Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary tech startup finds niche in lagging COVID real estate market

Calgary realtor Jassy Gill said it’s harder during COVID-19 for people to walk away from home listings with your typical feature sheet.

“Just for the fact that people don’t want to touch things and people don’t want to take something home that’s been in a home that they don’t know if they have COVID,” he said.

Gill turned to Calgary property tech company LotSpot to fill the void of leaving his clients with information. It’s been important to provide people ways to feel comfortable looking at homes, while still adhering to public health guidelines.

LotSpot, a roughly two-year-old Calgary start up, provides detailed home information through their app. Using beacon technology, the location-based system provides a virtual tour of the different rooms in a home.

From there, users can make notes. They can compare different homes in-app, instead of laying pages out on the kitchen table.

Scott McKay, LotSpot founder, said accessing detailed information without having to enter a home is critical during COVID.

“It’s a virtually hands-free, COVID-friendly way to search for that new, or new-to-you home,” said McKay.

“All you need is a smartphone for information that goes well beyond the standard in-home, paper feature sheet.”

Once connected, prospective homebuyers have access to photos, videos, open source data and even features like drive time to work, school or recreation.

Calgary’s real estate market

July home sales improved in Calgary, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), but year-to-date sales remain 15-per-cent lower than 2019.

“There have been improvements relative to the lowest sales levels caused by COVID-19, but it is too early to say things are shifting back to pre-pandemic levels,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie, in an Aug. 4 statement.

“We are still facing record high unemployment rates, significant government aid, and uncertainty throughout the business community. This will continue in the coming months.”

Lurie said some demand is returning to the market, but so is supply. COVID-related shutdowns may account for some of the spill over into July, she said.

Couple the lagging market with COVID-19 public health guidelines and it’s a rough go for city realtors.

“It’s been a little bit tougher out there,” said Gill, who works for CIR Realty.

Even during COVID, Gill said if anyone wants in-home tours they’re still available.

You can still tour homes for sale, but public health guidelines still apply. CONTRIBUTED

There’s just a bunch of paperwork for buyers and sellers to fill out. They must disclose if they’ve travelled out of the country, been exposed to someone with COVID, or if they’ve exhibited recent symptoms, he said.

The industry’s been proactive, said Gill, but there are a lot of reluctant buyers and sellers with pandemic worries. He now does full video tours of all his listing just to ease the minds of buyers and sellers.

“I think it has deterred people from going out and the LotSpot way makes it easier,” he said.

“If someone’s driving by they don’t want to go in and they just want to check and see what the price is and what it looks like inside.”

COVID signal boost

McKay said they’ve been working away over the past couple years, building the product. As businesses grappled with ways to pivot and change their models to lessen the impact, LotSpot was already uniquely position to fill a void.

“The pandemic certainly reinforced LotSpot’s relevance to the evolving Calgary real estate market,” he said.

More homebuilders have signed on, as have realtors. And it’s only continuing to grow.

Gill said when the lockdown started, many in his field didn’t know what to do. How would you get the home information across to homebuyers?

“This just speeds up the process,” said Gill.

“You can pull up all the information without going into the house or contacting the realtor. It doesn’t take the realtor out of the equation; it just helps the buyer with more information.”

The LotSpot app can be found on both Android and iOS platforms. Realtors can reach LotSpot at hello@lotspot.ca.