OTTAWA -- Whether it’s a rental apartment or a forever home, COVID-19 has taken the house-hunting process to a virtual level in a way it hasn’t had to before.

From viewings to signing a lean – it’s now taking place online. 

“The rental business especially is changed forever from the COVID virus,” said Neil Newton, real estate agent.

“I think the way we do business and the way we handle things is going to be way more remote than in person. It’s still available to be done in person but when you get used to the technology because you have to it’s going to be used more and more and more.”

Newton has set up virtual tours for his listing and had more than 30 inquiries in 24 hours.

“The application is done by email, they send back the application, we process it by phone and then we send them an email with the new Ontario standard lease agreement,” Newton said.

“From there we’re able to put it in a docu-sign or E-signature system which is set up to be secure.

An e-signature is as legally binding as one done with a pen and paper in person, Newton added.

Denise Shannon is looking at the property for her daughter and said while she’d rather view the unit in person, “this is the next best thing because of what we’re going through with COVID right now.”

COVID-19 is also not slowing down real estate requests for photographer Michael Lem the way he thought it would.

“This makes it possible for people to still shop for a home without having to put their lives or other peoples’ lives at risk,” said Lem.