Canada’s housing market continued its improbable run in August, as average prices jumped by almost 20 per cent from where they were a year earlier, and the number of homes sold shattered the monthly record.
The Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents more than 130,000 Realtors across the country, said Tuesday that 58,645 homes were sold during the month, which is 33 per cent more than changed hands in the same month last year. It’s also more than six per cent more than the number of homes that sold in July, which was itself a record for the month.
August is typically not a very busy month for home sales. Normally, the market starts off the year slowly in the cold winter months before spiking in the spring, cooling down through the summer and getting ice cold again toward the end of the year before the cycle begins anew in January.
But 2020 has thrown those seasonal trends out the window as lockdowns in March and April delayed a lot of home purchases and pushed the buying season until later in the year.
Even with a global pandemic that at last count had wiped out more than a million jobs from Canada’s labour market, last month was the sixth-busiest month on record for home sales, and the busiest August ever.
Prices skyrocketed, too. The average price of a Canadian home that sold last month was $586,000. That’s up 18.5 per cent from the same month last year.
CREA says the average price can be misleading because big sales in expensive markets like Toronto and Vancouver can skew the number. (Indeed, if those two cities are stripped out, the average drops by $122,000 to $464,000 last month.)
So CREA calculates another figure, known as the House Price Index, which the group says is a better gauge of the market because it adjusts for the volume and type of housing across markets.
The HPI rose by 9.4 per cent in August. That’s the biggest annual leap since 2017.
“It has been a record-setting summer in many housing markets across Canada, as realtors and their clients play catch up following the loss of so much of the 2020 spring market,” CREA chair Costa Poulopoulos said in a news release.
“It really does seem that the spring market shifted into the summer.”
Economists doubt that torrid pace can last
TD Bank economist Brian DePratto says the numbers suggest the market continues to “defy gravity” any way you slice them, but he wonders how long it can last.
“While the lack of spring market has been an important factor behind the unseasonably strong summer, as of August, the level of sales activity is now in line with historic norms, suggesting that much of this pent-up demand has been satisfied,” he said.
Despite sales plummeting to their lowest level in decades during those early months of lockdown, for 2020 as a whole so far 341,463 homes have changed owners through the first eight months of the year. That’s 0.8 per cent ahead of the sales pace this time last year.
“While Canadian housing markets have made a habit of mocking them in the past, the fundamentals augur for at least a partial retrenchment of sales activity over the remainder of the year.”
Bank of Montreal economist Sal Guatieri noted that despite new listings increasing at a faster pace than sales for the first time since the pandemic, the sales-to-listings ratio is still at its tightest level in 15 years, which he calls “a recipe for higher prices.”
But he, too, is doubtful that the booming market can last. “It’s looking like pent-up demand is just about running its course, and we’ll see where underlying sales settle. Some areas of the country will probably stay quite hot. Others, not.”
Online thieves scam Toronto couple out of more than $1,000 in PC Optimum points hack – CBC.ca
When Chris Eggers and his wife signed up for an in-store text message promotion at a Toronto Shoppers Drug Mart, they thought they’d collect extra PC Optimum points.
Instead, Eggers alleges, hackers stole them all.
“Every week, [PC Optimum] would text me, ‘See if you’re a winner and click on the link!'” he explained.
“One of the links I clicked, and I still have the text, asked me to enter my PC optimum information.”
So, Eggers, 37, entered the couple’s log-in details.
“I believe it is at that point that my identity was compromised,” he told CBC Toronto.
All the text messages came from the same number. But only one, he says, asked him to enter his account information.
A few days later, the couple was alerted that all their points had been cashed in.
“My wife got emails saying that our PC Optimum points were being redeemed at Vaughan Mills Mall, 600,000 of them,” Eggers explained.
“And so, of course, we panic, you know, try to open the app and change everything, but at that point it was all gone.”
Hackers redeemed more than $1,100 worth of points
Emails the couple supplied to CBC Toronto show a total of $1,149.99 worth of merchandise was redeemed at the Shoppers Drug Mart located in the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre in Vaughan, Ont. north of Toronto.
Eggers notified Loblaw Companies Ltd., the corporation that operates the PC Optimum program, and has since filed a report with York Regional Police.
Scammers have targeted the reward system before.
Two years ago, CBC News interviewed eight people across Canada who said they’d each had more than 100,000 points stolen from their accounts after Loblaw merged its two rewards programs — PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum — to form PC Optimum on Feb. 1, 2018.
The reported thefts are just one more problem plaguing Loblaw, which was already dealing with technical glitches involving PC Optimum, and fallout from a bread price-fixing scandal, including the related controversy over asking some people to send their ID to collect a $25 gift card as compensation for the overpriced bread.
No connection to text promotion, Loblaw says
When the company replied to Eggers days later, he was told his email had been compromised and there was no connection to the in-store text promotion.
That’s something Eggers still has trouble accepting.
“I don’t believe that because if somebody was going to compromise my email, then they would have gone after my banking,” he said.
“It’s quite a leap to think that when you get into somebody’s email that they have a Shoppers Optimum and that’s … the cherry they want to pick.”
In a statement to CBC News, Loblaw says the company reviewed screen shots of Eggers’s contest text messages and related links and has “not found any site/page that asked for PC Optimum account information.”
“The links provided simply show a promotional code,” the statement reads
Loblaw apologizes for ‘the inconvenience this has caused’
However, the retailer does acknowledge recent “smishing campaigns” — text messages asking for information, claiming to be from PC Optimum in recent months.
“We’re still reviewing to see if that could be the case in this instance,” the company said, adding their investigation is ongoing.
“We are committed to understanding the scenario and how we can best help our customers moving forward.”
Loblaws says representatives have worked with Eggers and his wife to restore their points and secure their account.
The company also says it apologizes for “the inconvenience this has caused [for the couple] and the delay in resolving it.”
Eggers says he’s happy to have their points back but worries others could have also been hacked.
Video: Woman refuses to wear mask, asked to leave Kelowna LUSH – News 1130
KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — A tense exchange filmed at a Kelowna mall shows a woman arguing with staff at a LUSH Cosmetics store after they told her she had to leave because she wasn’t wearing a mask.
The confrontation in Orchard Park Shopping Centre was filmed and posted to social media by the woman and comes at a time when B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers are still high.
The woman refused to wear a mask when she entered the store, then said staff and security were breaching her human rights by not allowing her to browse.
My daughter got #Karen’d yesterday! A wild Trump-loving-anti-masker came into @lushcosmetics at #OrchardPark mall in #Kelowna , #BritishColumbia #Canada. Let’s make her go viral!! Twitter do your thing! #KarensGoneWild #antimasker pic.twitter.com/YZt2kFAme7
— Jill Cowie (@JillCowie2) September 19, 2020
The woman can be heard in the video speaking to a masked security guard.
“Explain to me how my human rights, with my medical condition, I cannot walk through a store when it’s totally fine for me to walk through a store.”
When asked to provide a medical note, the woman said she didn’t need to and instead said she could show her “puffer,” before saying that was none of the security guard’s business.
While there isn’t a provincial mandate on masks, they are encouraged to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But it is a policy for the store and has been since mid-July.
A spokesperson for LUSH tells NEWS 1130 they support how the staff handled the situation calmly and compassionately, and remain committed to ensuring the policy is followed.
“The health and safety of our staff and community remains top priority as we continue to navigate these challenging times together.”
The camera later pans over slightly to show three staff members, also wearing masks, and the woman accuses them of harassment.
“All I’m doing is looking in LUSH,” she says.
Staff suggest the woman instead shop online, but she refuses, saying “I want to browse here in the store.”
After multiple requests, the security guard says they might have to call the police if the woman doesn’t leave. He reminds her it is private property and she had been told to go.
Once the woman is given the number for the head office, she turns to leave.
Woman refuses to wear mask at LUSH, films altercation
A Lake Country woman claims she was the victim of “commie intimidation” after she was asked to leave Kelowna’s LUSH Cosmetics Thursday for refusing to wear a mask.
In a video that is not publicly available on her Facebook page, Susan Roth Drazdoff Faechner is seen arguing with a security guard and three female employees after she was refused service and told to leave LUSH for refusing to wear a face covering – which is company policy.
In the video, she describes the employees’ conduct as “commie intimidation.”
“I have the right to say no to a mask,” Faechner told Castanet. “I went in for an anniversary present for my husband. I picked up one thing I was going to buy. I turned around, I was ready to go, and security is there asking for my medical information.”
In the video, the security guard asks Faechner for a medical note after she tells him she can’t wear a mask due to her medical condition. When Faechner declines, the security guard explains that it’s store policy for customers to wear a face covering while inside. When Faechner argues the store is “public property to walk on,” the security guard says it is, in fact, private property.
“I know the law, and I know my constitutional human rights,” she says to the security guard.
“I felt like I was under, I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it was like great grievous bodily mental harm,” Faechner told Castanet. “Not that they were going to beat me up, but it was causing me extreme stress. When they came up to me it was like holy cow, I’m under attack and I’m all alone.
“This is like communism like, ‘you get out otherwise we call the police.’ Thats intimidation.”
Faechner says after the video ended she left peacefully as she didn’t want to escalate the situation further.
LUSH Kelowna manager Spence Dagneau says the incident with Faechner was one of the first times a customer has gotten upset about the mask policy.
“[The staff members] were pretty shaken up for the rest of the day but we have a really small, tight-knit group here and they’re all feeling pretty confident again today so its nice to see,” Dagneau said.
All LUSH stores across North America mandated face coverings on July 18, 2020.
“Shoppers who wish to enter a store but do not have their own face covering will be provided with one, or can choose contactless ordering instead by remaining outside the store while staff assist,” the LUSH website states. “The change comes following new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, along with our ongoing commitment to the safety of our customers, staff and overall community.”
Other retailers like Walmart and Real Canadian Superstore have also chosen to mandate the use of masks inside their stores.
But, echoing sentiments from a vocal minority in the community, Faechner says the mask rules infringe on her human rights.
“Masks are a freedom of choice,” she says. “Wear it, or don’t. Know your information, know what you’re talking about. You shouldn’t blindly wear a mask because some organization is telling you to do it.”
Faechner says after the incident she went to a different store in the shopping centre and was given service without a mask. She says she’ll no longer be shopping at LUSH stores.
“I call myself a Christ crusader and people with faith, they don’t just outright lie because they have a creator that they have to answer to at some point,” she says. “I’m not going to outright lie, I just think something’s happened to humans where we’ve just lost our sense of humanity.”
Source: – Kelowna News – Castanet.net
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