Canadian real estate sales have fallen to historic lows during the pandemic as fears about the market’s future keep cautious buyers and sellers from making a move.
Home sales in April plunged a record-breaking 57.6 per cent from the year prior to 20,630 sales nationwide, the lowest activity on record since 1984, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
The stunning drop was most apparent in the country’s two hottest real estate markets, where spring is usually the one of the busiest times of the year. Activity fell 66.2 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area and 51.5 per cent drop in Greater Vancouver. Those cities were followed by Ottawa, which saw a 51.5 per cent drop, and Winnipeg, with a 42 per cent drop.
Those numbers come as little surprise to Vancouver-based realtor David Hutchinson. He listed a new property in April and received just one phone call about it the entire month.
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial commitments a person can make, and Hutchison says both buyers and sellers have decided to take a wait-and-see approach.
“People are on the sidelines a lot more,” Hutchison told CTV News.
While home sales have fallen dramatically, prices have not followed suit. The most recent numbers from April show that the national average price for a home was more than $488,000, down just 1.3 per cent from the same month last year.
Regardless, what’s clear is that anyone looking to sell a home isn’t facing the same set of circumstances as they would have before March. Toronto-based realtor Gus Papaionannou showed CTV News the numbers on a detached home in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood that recently sold for $1.2 million — about $140,000 less than what the sellers were asking for just six weeks ago.
“Prices in general are flat, but there are certain sellers that if they need to sell, yes, they need to sell,” he said.
The state of the market is also worrisome for those who recently purchased a home. Myles Wagman and Jenia Bloch took possession of their new home just three weeks ago in Toronto.
“For so long in Toronto it’s just been assured that house prices are going up,” Wagman said.
If prices take a nosedive, they worry they could be left with a property that isn’t worth what they paid for.
“We haven’t seen prices reduce significantly, but definitely it’s been very, very stressful,” Bloch said.
Lockdown measures have also made it difficult to buy and sell, with most jurisdictions banning open houses. Instead, virtual open houses by Skype or FaceTime have been offered in their place.
It’s too soon to know what next month will bring, but that are early signs that May could be a more positive month for sales, said Sean Cathcart, senior economist with the Canadian Real Estate Association.
“We’ve developed a bit of a leading indicator and it’s showing that things have been improving since about mid-April,” Cathcart said.
The market’s long-term viability could be affected by job losses if hard-hit homeowners begin looking to cash out on their properties. But measures such as mortgage deferrals and financial assistance from the provincial and federal governments may be helping keep those numbers down.
Preliminary figures suggest that about 10 per cent of Canadian homeowners have chosen to defer their mortgage payments, according to the CMHC, and those deferrals are higher in regions that rely on the oil and gas sector.
Nationally, new listings fell 56 per cent from March to April.
With fewer houses up for sale and buyers holding back offers, the market has entered an unusually placid phase, said Robert Kavcic, director and economist of BMO Capital Markets.
“We’re in this odd situation where yes we are in recession, but we’re not getting a bump in listings and therefore, we’re not getting a decline in home prices.”
It may be years before real estate prices return to pre-pandemic levels. Earlier this month, officials with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said they don’t expect prices to return to what they were before COVID-19 until late 2022 at the earliest.
With files from The Canadian Press
Ontario, Quebec continue to account for majority of Canada’s new novel coronavirus cases – Globalnews.ca
Despite hundreds of new novel coronavirus cases still being reported in Ontario and Quebec, the number of overall cases across Canada continued to trend downward Friday.
More than 600 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday raised the national tally past 94,000 cases overall. More than 52,000 people are considered recovered, with more than 1.9 million tests conducted.
The national death toll went up by 66 deaths, for a total of 7,703.
Quebec accounted for the majority of the daily death toll once again. The province has been the hardest-hit region in Canada for the past few weeks, with 55 per cent of the national caseload and nearly 5,000 deaths (more than 60 per cent of Canada’s death toll).
Quebec reported 50 new deaths and 255 new cases on Friday. More than 17,700 people are deemed recovered in the province.
Ontario reported 344 new cases and 15 new deaths, leaving the province with nearly 30,000 cases and more than 2,300 deaths. More than 23,000 people have recovered from the virus.
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B.C. reported one new case and one new death, for a total of 2,628 cases and 167 deaths. The province has seen 2,272 people recover so far.
The Prairie provinces recorded new cases in the single digits. Alberta saw seven new cases — the lowest daily number recorded by the province since March 12.
All four Atlantic provinces reported no new cases or deaths on Friday. Prince Edward Island’s 27 cases have been resolved for weeks now, Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases left out of 261 cases and three deaths, and Nova Scotia, where 61 people have died so far, saw bars and restaurants reopen.
New Brunswick reported its first COVID-19-related death on Thursday and has mandated face coverings in public buildings. Out of 136 cases, 121 are recovered.
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The Northwest Territories and the Yukon continue to see no new cases, having resolved all their cases for some time. Nunavut remain the only region in Canada that hasn’t reported a positive case of COVID-19 so far.
Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in more than 6.7 million cases and nearly 394,000 deaths, according to figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
'Safe restart' of Canadian economy will take 6-8 months, Freeland says – CTV News
A ‘safe restart’ of the Canadian economy will likely take at least half a year, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday, a day after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautioned that relaxing current restrictions too much or too soon could result in an “explosive growth” of new cases.
“One other thing that we would like to really underscore is what we are talking about is the safe restart right now. So this is not a long-term plan,” Freeland told reporters when asked about the government’s plans for the $14 billion earmarked to help provinces and territories.
“This is for ensuring a safe restart over the next six to eight months. And I think it’s important for Canadians to understand that’s the timeframe that we are focused on.”
Canada is fast approaching 95,000 COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 7,700 deaths across the country. Most provinces and territories have begun reporting no or very few cases and deaths and are beginning to look at how to restart the economy, but Ontario and Quebec are still reporting close to or morethan 300 new cases a day and numerous deaths. The two provinces now account for more than 90 percent of the cases, but have also begun plans for reopening.
Tam said Thursday that until an effective vaccine or treatment becomes available, Canada needsto remain vigilant with its containment efforts to prevent an “explosive” second wave, with the latest federal modelling showing that another peak was possible in October without sufficient prevention measures.
The last time the federal government made a projection was in late April, when it estimated that the country was on track to report between 53,196 and 66,835 cases of COVID-19, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths. In reality, there were 62,046 confirmed cases and 4,043 people had died by May 5.
Freeland said the government understands that the needs of each province and territory vary a great deal, and that it wanted to work collaboratively with them.
“We really are approaching this by saying to the provinces and territories, we understand that a safe restart is essential. And that it is expensive.”
With files from Ottawa news Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello
Feds to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities – CTV News
Canadians with disabilities will be sent a one-time tax-free payment of up to $600, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, in an effort to help offset the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new financial aid will go to all who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, as of June 1.
Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600. Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300. Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.
The government says that because of the special one-time payments going to seniors, the amount seniors with disabilities will receive through this stream will be less, but in the end will total the same amount of $600.
“People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically,” the federal government has announced, meaning that eligible recipients of these new one-time payments will not need to apply. However, as announced with the seniors funding on Thursday, it could be weeks before the money lands in the hands of those eligible.
For those who are eligible and under the age of 18, the special payment will be sent to their primary caregiver and in cases of shared custody, each parent will receive $300.
“This payment will go to existing disability tax credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependents with disabilities, seniors, veterans and many other Canadians that we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough said on Friday.
Some Canadians with disabilities had been watching the various announcements for students, seniors, and other targeted demographics and have been left wondering why they appeared to have fallen through the cracks.
For many already living on a low income, they are facing more expenses due to the pandemic, such as increased costs for personal support workers, grocery delivery fees and prescription drug dispensing fees.
The government estimates that 1.2 million Canadians will be eligible for this one-time top-up, which will cost $548 million. Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely.
NEW ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS
In addition to the one-time payments, the federal government is launching two new accessibility-focused programs.
One, focused on national workplace accessibility, will see $15 million go to community organizations to develop programs and expand current training opportunities to help Canadians with disabilities adapt to the realities of COVID-19, including helping set up effective work-from-home arrangements and training for in-demand jobs.
The second is a $1.8 million fund being shared between five projects to develop accessible technology such as accessible payment terminals for individuals with sight loss; arm supports that will allow Canadians with disabilities to use standard technology; systems to allow Canadians with neurological conditions to interact with technology for a longer period of time; and to develop software to expand expression and voice recognition.
“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular,” Qualtrough said. “We also recognize that persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of job loss during economic downturns.”
Asked more broadly whether the government has plans to extend or amend the $2,000 a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit in light of the shifting economic situation and gradual reopening, the minister said that conversations are underway.
“Our thinking moving forward is how do we balance a need to continue to support workers while not disincentivizing work, and absolutely those conversations are happening right now.”
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