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Comment: A real estate agent reflects on making moves to survive and thrive again – Times Colonist

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A commentary by an agent with RE/MAX Camosun, known as Happy Cat Real Estate. One of a series on how local businesses are dealing with the pandemic.

It’s like it happened overnight. One day, in the middle of March, I was representing a buyer on a single-family home in Saanich. Offers from the weekend were to be reviewed Monday morning.

We put in an offer early in hopes it would discourage other potential buyers, but we knew this home was a hot commodity and competition was inevitable. The weekend open house had more than 200 attendees, and by the end of the weekend, there had been more than 50 private showings.

It felt like the crazy market of 2017 and 2018 was back. Spring had sprung and the market was hot.

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By Monday morning, the listing agent had 16 offers in hand, and many prospective buyers were on pins and needles. Going in well over the asking price with an appealing offer, my buyer was the successful bidder. She was thrilled.

Three days later, the market hit pause.

I was really excited about a new listing in Gordon Head. The home was in a great location near the University of Victoria, with a huge lot and a mortgage-helper suite in the basement. This one, I thought, was sure to sell quickly with the spring flowers blooming and the market abuzz.

Then COVID-19 hit. Just like that. There was a new vocabulary for everyone to adopt. Phrases such as social distancing, self-quarantine, self-isolation and pandemic versus epidemic were being heard everywhere I turned. And what was this curve that everyone wanted to flatten?

Overnight, the world changed, and in turn, the real estate market — and my career — was turned on its head.

Soon after the outbreak began, real estate agents were classified as an “essential service” because of the many reasons that clients must sell or buy.

There are buyers who have sold their homes and must buy within a certain timeline, and there are moves triggered by divorce, separation, death, job transfer or change in income.

Thus, life as a real estate agent must go on — we need to continue supporting buyers and sellers.

We have had to put many safety measures in place. Physical distancing is the norm, with only two people allowed in a home at a time. We use gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and a signed declaration for buyers and sellers to acknowledge the risk due to COVID. We pre-qualify buyers before showings.

We have adopted new practices, with virtual showings, virtual open houses and more FaceTime walk-throughs.

For a commission-based employee, the unknown can be worrisome. Real estate agents are faced with many monthly fees that don’t stop because of an unexpected pandemic.

The costs are similar to those for a small business, and although we don’t necessarily have the expense of a bricks-and-mortar location, we still have to pay for licensing, dues, insurance, education, office fees and all the hidden costs required to run a successful business.

As a Victoria native who has worked for more than 10 years as a real estate agent, I feel confident that with people working together and following safety measures, the real estate market will survive and thrive again.

I’m even confident that the Gordon Head home will find a loving new owner soon.

In the meantime, let’s throw on some gloves and keep on moving.

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Douglas Todd: China's real-estate investors down on Vancouver, but not out – Vancouver Sun

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Huawei CEO Meng Wenghzou must stay under mansion arrest following this week’s court decision in Vancouver. China’s authorities rage, while continuing to unfairly jail Michael Spavor and Michael Korvig and drastically cut imports of Canadian canola.

Rival ethnic Chinese groups clash in the streets of Vancouver over Beijing’s clampdown on Hong Kongers’ freedoms. COVID-19 kills more than 6,800 across Canada and lockdown virtually ends international travel, sending home many of China’s foreign students, especially from Toronto and Vancouver.

China-Canada relations are at their lowest ebb in decades, particularly according to China’s pervasive regime-backed media outlets, which this week called Canada a “pathetic clown.”

And that has implications for Metro Vancouver’s housing market.

This region of 2.6 million is feeling the impact of soured relations with China, even while polling suggests the city continues to retain some of its traditional allure to the world’s most populous country as a desirable place to experience and invest in.

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Ontario Real Estate Association hands down new guidelines as folks begin looking back into housing market – Barrie 360 – Barrie 360

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While officials are expecting the Canadian housing market to take a real hit because of the COVID pandemic, Ontario realtors are still taking steps to protect those who want to buy or sell a home.

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has issued a series of guidelines to protect the health and safety of not just those in the market to buy or sell, but the realtors doing the deals too.

The OREA says virtual home showings should continue for now

Most home showings have been done virtually since the emergency was declared in Ontario, and the OREA says that should become standard practice for now. Documents, forms, and acknowledgments should be processed electronically according to these guidelines. The OREA asks that physical home showings should be preceded by thoroughly disinfecting surfaces, and a physical distance should be maintained while interacting with clients directly. The OREA asks that personal protective equipment be used when distancing isn’t possible. A complete list of the OREA’s recommendations can be found on its website.

Housing starts, sales, and prices are expected to be impacted by the pandemic through 2022

Now that the Ontario Government has announced a phased reopening, the OREA feels many consumers are looking to get back into the market in person. “The health and safety of our Realtors and their clients is OREA’s top priority during this pandemic,” says Sean Morrison, President of OREA. “As Ontario’s economy reopens, many Ontarians are looking to get back into the real estate market. Realtors are here to help make home buyers and sellers feel comfortable and safe while they work to find their dream home. OREA’s guidelines have been informed by up-to-date information from public health, best practices from the industry and experiences in jurisdictions across North America.”

RELATED: HOUSING MARKET TO BE HIT HARD BY COVID PANDEMIC THROUGH TO THE END OF 2022, ACCORDING TO CMHC HOUSING OUTLOOK

On Wednesday, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a housing market outlook that shows the impacts of COVID-19 will be felt on the industry right through to the end of 2022. Housing starts, sales, and prices within Ontario will be more impacted than some, including B.C. and Quebec, but less than those of oil-dependent Alberta or Saskatchewan.

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Quebecers love the 'burbs, real estate poll suggests – Montreal Gazette

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A survey conducted by the RE/MAX Québec real estate firm suggests that 46 per cent of respondents — particularly those with young children — could see themselves buying a home in the suburbs.

The poll, carried out just as the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak were beginning to be felt across Quebec, found that 28 per cent would like to settle in the city while 21 per cent preferred the country.

Among potential sellers, the Léger poll found 58 per cent would put their homes on the block to move somewhere with more land, while 55 per cent would do so for a larger home.

A large proportion of respondents ages 55-64 would sell in order to move to a less expensive home.

RE/MAX Québec vice-president Sylvain Dansereau said the polling dates were not changed despite the health crisis, adding that a second phase of the survey will be carried out this autumn to measure the effects of the outbreak on the real estate buying and selling preferences of Quebecers.

Quebec’s real estate industry received government authorization to resume operations on May 11.

The poll was conducted March 17-29 with 1,400 respondents in six regions of Quebec and has a 2.6-per-cent margin of error 19 times out of 20.

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