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COVID-19 could derail recovery of real-estate market in Vancouver and beyond –



The housing market could be in for a rough ride because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s according to Brendon Ogmundson, chief economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association.

Ogmundson stressed that it depends mainly on what’s going to happen to the economy.

“What we know is that we’re going to get kind of like a sudden stop in economic activity for the next couple of months,” Ogmundson told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

“So I think what we’re looking at for the B.C. economy is a couple of pretty, pretty lousy months for March, April, May, maybe extended to the summer.”

But Ogmundson qualified that real estate is a “face-to-face kind of business” and it’s “hard to gauge how the impacts of people staying home may impact the housing market”.

“So if we just get kind of a sharp kind of decline in the next couple months but things rebound in the second half of the year, I think that we’re going to end the year down but healthy,” Ogmundson said.

However, Ogmundson said that it will be different if things get “a lot more serious”.

“When the economy goes into recession, then we come across a situation where we’ll see sales decline for the year and then probably a bit of a decline in home prices as well,” he said.

Based on figures so far this year supplied by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the real-estate market is trending up.

According to the REBGV, home sales in this region totaled 2,150 in February 2020, which was a 44.9 percent increase from the transactions made in February 2019.

February sales were also 36.9 percent higher than the number of homes sold in January, when realtors with the REBGV sold 1,571 homes. That was 42.4 percent higher than January 2019.

REBGV president Ashley Smith noted that even early numbers for the month of March this year suggest a “strong direction as well”.

However, with the spread of the novel coronavirus, Smith noted that something else has emerged.

“Anecdotally, over the weekend, we’re hearing kind of both sides of the story,” Smith related in a phone interview with the Straight on March 17.

“We’re hearing about good activity in some cases, and, again, multiple offers in some cases,” Smith continued, “and then another side has some, you know, natural response to things like this, where people are cancelling showings, cancelling open houses.”

Smith said some people have turned to private showings instead of open houses. She also talked about hearing of realtors asking people who come to home showings if they have recently been out of the country, in order to make sure that they are “healthy”.

“So how this will all play out, I think it’s still unknown,” Smith said.

Realtor Adam Chahl’s recent experience reflects much of what Smith related. According to Chahl, his open houses got visits from serious buyers, with the scare over COVID-19 keeping out a “lot of the lookie-loos”.

On the other hand, Chahl noted, he has had a couple of clients who put their plans on hold.

“I think, going forward, people are going to be more cautious about who they’re letting into their homes or if they even want to do open houses,” he told the Straight by phone.


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Real estate secrets; Family blindsided after others profit off obituary; CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet –



Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Real estate agents caught on hidden camera breaking the law, steering buyers from low-commission homes

Marketplace’s latest investigation is uncovering some shady real estate practices.

Posing as homebuyers and sellers, Marketplace tested if real estate agents are engaging in steering, an anti-competitive practice that steers potential homebuyers away from properties that offer agents lower commission. The team’s hidden cameras found some agents deceiving the buyers they are supposed to represent in an effort to pad their own bottom line.

Experts and industry insiders say what Marketplace has uncovered is indicative of an industry working for the benefit of real estate agents at a cost to home sellers and buyers.

“There’s a huge inertia, and maintaining the status quo, it absolutely benefits existing realtors 100 per cent,” said broker and real estate agent Michael Walsh, one of the few speaking out on this issue.

After learning about our findings, the Real Estate Council of Ontario issued a notice about steering to more than 93,000 real estate agents, brokers and brokerages under its purview, noting that such behaviour breaches their code of ethics. Read more

Real Estate Secrets

2 days ago

Investigation catches real estate agents breaking the law to keep commissions high, hamper competition and block private sellers. 22:30

Family blindsided after marketing company, funeral home cash in on father’s obituary

Before pancreatic cancer took his life in April, John Rothwell made his dying wishes clear: if mourners wanted to donate to a cause in his name, the money should go to an educational fund he and his family set up.

Instead, family and friends unwittingly paid for a product that puts money into the pockets of companies profiting from grief, says son Nathan Rothwell

Rothwell told Go Public that while he knew the obituary would be on the website of the Mackey Funeral Home in Lindsay, Ont., he made sure it included a request for mourners to consider donating to the educational fund, in lieu of flowers. 

What no one told his family is that Frontrunner — a Kingston, Ont.-based marketing company that runs the funeral home’s website and many others across the country — uses obituaries to sell what it calls “memorial” trees and other products.

The obituary included links that said, “Plant a tree in the memory of John Rothwell” and led to a different website where mourners paid for products the family knew nothing about, said Rothwell. 

“Family and friends spent money out of their own pockets for what they thought were my dad’s wishes,” Rothwell said.

After Rothwell complained and got a lawyer involved, Frontrunner doubled what mourners paid for the trees, and donated that money — more than $2,000 — to the educational fund. The company maintains that it did nothing wrong. Read more

Nathan Rothwell says his dad wanted memorial donations to go to an educational fund. Instead, some money went to private companies using obituaries to sell memorial-themed tree plantings. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

The U.S. land border is reopening, but Canadians with mixed vaccines are still in limbo

While it’s welcome news that the U.S. will reopen its shared land border with Canada to non-essential travel on Nov. 8, some Canadians with mixed vaccine doses aren’t celebrating just yet.

That’s because at the same time the U.S. reopens the land border, it will start requiring that foreign land and air travellers entering the country be fully vaccinated. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently doesn’t recognize mixed COVID-19 vaccines — such as one dose of AstraZeneca and one dose of Pfizer or Moderna — and hasn’t yet said if travellers with two different doses will be blocked from entry when the vaccine requirement kicks in. 

“CDC will release additional guidance and information as the travel requirements are finalized later this month,” spokesperson Jade Fulce said in an email on Wednesday. Read more

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent directs vehicles re-entering the United States from Canada at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit on Aug. 9. Starting in early November, Canadians entering the U.S. by land and air will have to be fully vaccinated, but there’s uncertainty over whether two doses of different vaccines will count. (Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

What else is going on?

What we know about kids and COVID-19 vaccines
If parents feel heard and understood, they’re in a much better position to make decisions, say pediatricians

Zellers returns — kind of — but the lowest price isn’t quite the law 
Discount store brand reappears months after HBC appears to lose trademark registration.

Sweatpants forever? Why the ‘athleisure’ fashion trend may outlast the pandemic
The pandemic has changed fashion trends — and experts say our desire for comfort is here to stay.

Canada seeks to claw back $25M in COVID relief from thousands of fishers 
More than half of the harvesters affected by the repayment request are in Nova Scotia.

Specialized Tarmac SL7 Bicycles recalled due to fall hazard
Consumers should immediately stop using the bicycles and contact an authorized Specialized retailer.

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Watch this week’s episode of Marketplace and catch up on past episodes any time on CBC Gem.

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This Week’s Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Tops The List of Global Bubbles, and IMF Warns of Correction Risks – Better Dwelling



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This Week’s Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Tops The List of Global Bubbles, and IMF Warns of Correction Risks  Better Dwelling

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Real estate secrets –



Canada has among the highest real estate commission rates in the world.

Our investigation found real estate agents breaking the law by steering buyers from low-commission homes. Hidden cameras caught them in the act.

Watch our full investigation anytime on CBC Gem.

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