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How Canada's real estate market has been forced to move online | Urbanized – Daily Hive

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Almost every industry in Canada has been impacted by the global pandemic, and the real estate sector is no exception.

According to statistics released by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales decreased by 14.3% on a month-to-month basis in March 2020.

Perhaps not surprising, then, is how the pandemic has changed the buying and selling experience.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) says this varies brokerage by brokerage. But both parties — buyers and sellers — can anticipate an increased reliance on technology and digital media tools throughout the process.

This could include video conferencing calls, viewing homes via virtual tours or video walk-throughs, using digital documents for contracts, and electronic signatures for finalizing agreements.

“Though buyers can expect to see a property in person before buying, they should expect to do more ‘browsing’ virtually,” RECO tells Daily Hive. “This may be a trend that stays beyond the pandemic.”

Market outlook in Vancouver

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Vancouver realtor Shawn Brown of The West Haven Group says the demand and supply for properties are similarly balanced to what it was before the crisis. He had several deals collapse in March, but after that, he was hit with new business. 

“I’ve had my busiest month so far in April,” he says. Brown notes that this is not the case for a lot of agents; that realtors need to ensure their marketing is effective and that the price is compelling for people to take the risk and buy now.

“Realtors are particularly careful right now with how they are conducting their business because they have been deemed an essential service and they don’t want any reason to be constrained further,” he says.

Brown says several of his buyers were getting left behind at the start of the year because of how competitive the market was, but they have now been able to buy again.

Toronto real estate transactions

Jesse Farb, a broker with The Real Estate Office in Toronto, was overseas right before things broke out in North America.

“When I got back, we reacted by looking at the advice of The Real Estate Council of Ontario, and then figuring out the policies and procedures that we need to put in place for the health and safety of our team, our clients, and then the general public at large,” he says. 

Farb explains that things changed quickly early on with moving to 3D virtual walkthrough tours on all his team’s listings, making sure the legal professionals they work with are operating in a safe manner using digital signings for closings, and also using wire transfers.

He stresses that every transaction is different, but some buyers are trying to enter the market now because they think they will get a better deal; in some cases, they have been right. However, a lot of sellers have been holding firm on pre-COVID pricing.

Farb thinks that when the economy starts to reopen, there will be a small boom during the warmer months as the spring market relaunches, but this could be short-lived due to the economic fallout resulting from the crisis.

Digitizing the process

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Matisse Yiu, a digital marketing specialist for the Vancouver rental platform liv.rent, says buyers are relying heavily on digital tools to “shop” and narrow down their options before requesting a viewing.

“Sellers, in turn, do not want to hold open houses and want to limit visits by prospective buyers to only those who are very serious,” Yiu tells Daily Hive.

She explains that this also applies to landlords and property managers who are now doing tenant screenings before in-person viewings are even held — something she is seeing liv.rent users rely on more.

“The need for proof of income has also become an important piece of documentation during this time when evictions are currently suspended,” says Yiu. This is an element that’s included in liv.rent’s rating system for renter reliability and credibility.

As the demand and interest for short term rentals have decreased drastically in Vancouver, Yiu says it will be interesting to see how this affects monthly rental asking rates and vacancy rates, as the availability of Airbnb listings and rental prices seem to be linked.

“Currently, we have already seen a shift of short term rentals returning to the long term rental market, therefore boosting the supply of housing.”

Transitioning to technology

Michael Ninian, the founder and CEO of illusity, a virtual commerce platform for global real estate development presales, says he is seeing a much higher interest in 360 web apps solutions, consumer direct platforms, and VR.

“In general, we are seeing a higher demand for 3D marketing material such as renderings, fly-through videos for use with websites, and social media outreach campaigns,” he explains.

Ninian says developers were caught out with the forced closures of sales centres and disruptions of the traditional sales cycle. “We are now seeing developers coming on board with the idea of bringing the entire sales centre experience directly to a potential buyer using technology like AR/VR/XR, AI, and ML, among others.”

He anticipates that more real estate developers will move to direct virtual commerce platforms when the crisis is over. “Consumers of today want access to information on their terms and similar to the retail and automotive industries, consumers demand informative and convenient sales platforms to purchase products.”

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For RECO, the authority states that while these are difficult times for many, real estate remains, and will continue to be, an essential service, both now and when the market shifts back into full swing.

“If we are looking for a silver lining, [the crisis] has sparked a tremendous amount of innovation and unprecedented digital adoption by both those in the industry and consumers, much of which may weave into some brokerages’ offerings permanently.”

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B.C. real estate: 5 private islands for sale offer property buyers escape from raging COVID-19 pandemic – Straight.com

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Wealthy people wanting to get away from crowded cities to escape COVID-19 have options other than retreating to their lakeside cottages and country homes.

“An island would be a good place to ride out this pandemic,” realtor Adam Major told the Straight.

Major is the managing broker of Holywell Properties, a realty agency that also owns and operates real-estate information site Zealty.ca.

Major noted that owning a private island has always appealed to people.

“Who doesn’t want to own a private island?” Major asked.

With the raging COVID-19 pandemic, Major believes that the allure of having a private island has increased.

However, this is not for everyone.

“If you live on an isalnd, the cost to maintain it is probably more,” Major said.

One has to get everything to the island by boat, from food to fuel and other supplies.

“It’s not as cheap as it sounds, but definitely it has appeal right now,” Major said.

Major and Holywell Properties realty agent Gary Little provided a sample of five private islands for sale.

Below are the marketing blurbs by realty agencies for these properties:

1 Lamb Islats

“Welcome to your very own Private 1 Acre Island just 2hrs from Downtown Vancouver! This Private Island is 500ft off shore (accessible by private boat – included) and offers 2 homes. The main house is an extremely open concept West Coast Contemporary home totaling 2,365SqFt with 3 Beds / 2 Baths & 2,280SqFt of patio with manicured gardens, seating areas, dining areas & large hot-tub with view. The second home is a 724SqFt Loft offering 2 Beds / 1 Bath & 220SqFt of patio including its own hot-tub & mountain views. These homes are positioned on either side of the Island for maximum privacy. Deep water moorage & 40Ft X 14Ft dock. Local fishing, crabbing, prawning & clamming provide you all the West Coast has to offer!”

Malei Island

Royal LePage Advance Realty’s listing price for Malei Island in the Queen Charlotte Strait amounts to  $875,000.

“45 acre tastefully developed private island in Queen Charlotte Strait. Malei Island is nicely nestled in Cascade Harbour on the NW shore of Nigei Island. It is entirely in its natural state with the exception of a small footprint to accommodate the residence and a suspended boardwalk which meanders through the forest from the eastern shoreline through to the west end of the island. The 2800sqft 2 story home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The 1500sqft main level incorporates an open concept plan featuring the living room and spacious, well-appointed kitchen with propane cookstove. There is a vaulted ceiling in the living room with a wood-burning stove and access to the expansive oceanside deck. Also on the main floor is one bedroom and a full bathroom. A mudroom / laundry room combination houses the on-demand hot water pressure tank and ultraviolet water filtration system as well as the stacking washer and dryer plus 2 showers. The electrical/mechanical room houses a bank of 12 batteries with a trace engineered inverter system, analytic systems/voltage converter, emergency back-up lighting and electrical panels. The 1300sqft upper level features three spacious bedrooms that all have large skylights on the pitched ceilings providing natural light and beautiful ocean views. There are a series of smaller rooms across the back of the home for storage and/or additional sleeping quarters. There is a washroom on the upper level. Underneath the house there is easy access for storage, building supplies, equipment and a side-by-side ATV. Domestic water is by way of rainwater collection to a series of large tanks underneath the front deck. Power is an integrated system of generator coupled with two wind turbines. The power is then stored in a bank of batteries then converted through the inverter system for full 110v power. Between the home and the oceanfront there is a helipad as well as a stone and mason wood-fired hot tub and cold pool built into the natural rock.”

O Burts Island

RE/MAX of Nanaimo – Dave Koszegi Group represents the seller of O Burts Island in the Alberni Valley worth $495,000.

“The most affordable private island on the real west coast. Never been touched this island hold onto old growth hemlock and red cedar trees that back out onto the islands natural beaches. The island itself is generally level which make for good building sites and it is sheltered from the rugged waters by the neighboring Burlo island which make this an attractive option. Bamfield itself is home to world class recreation with, kayaking, fishing and hiking all at your doorstep. Home of the famous West Coast Trail, Bamfield Marine Science Center and the Music by the Sea festival there is no shortage of things to do in this quant little town. A legacy property like this is truly one of a kind.”

LT 81 Leech Island

Sutton Group-West Coast Realty (Dunc) listed LT 81 Leech Island in the Cowichan Valley for $1,279,000.

“Own your own island and live off the grid! Just a few short minutes boat ride from Sunrise Point Road on Thetis Island you land on your own island of 3.37 acres with dock, 2 bedroom home, sleeping loft/boat house, community water from Thetis island, recently installed, advanced solar power system with generator backup. Fruit trees and garden areas. Amazing views from almost anywhere on this private island, looking south over to Clam Bay spit, Hall, Secretarys and Reid Islands. Great fishing and pawning nearby.”

Saturnina Island

Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty Gabriola listed Saturnina Island in Nanaimo for $1,495,000.

“A True Legacy Property. Your own private island awaits you. 10 gorgeous and tranquil acres with a foreshore lease in place where you may be able to place your own private moorage! Situated next to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club on Tugboat Island, you will find this unique gem of a property. A large soft pebbled beach within a protected bay provides opportunity for swimming, kayaking and float plane access. Boundless development potential awaits. Majestic views across the Strait are enjoyed and year round access is attainable by means of ferry service to Gabriola Island, or a brief 15 minute Seaplane flight service from Vancouver’s YVR South terminal. Claim your own piece of paradise with stunning Saturnina Island. Verify all data and measurement if deemed important. City:Saturnina Island”

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B.C. real estate: 5 private islands for sale offer property buyers escape from raging COVID-19 pandemic – Straight.com

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 on


Wealthy people wanting to get away from crowded cities to escape COVID-19 have options other than retreating to their lakeside cottages and country homes.

“An island would be a good place to ride out this pandemic,” realtor Adam Major told the Straight.

Major is the managing broker of Holywell Properties, a realty agency that also owns and operates real-estate information site Zealty.ca.

Major noted that owning a private island has always appealed to people.

“Who doesn’t want to own a private island?” Major asked.

With the raging COVID-19 pandemic, Major believes that the allure of having a private island has increased.

However, this is not for everyone.

“If you live on an isalnd, the cost to maintain it is probably more,” Major said.

One has to get everything to the island by boat, from food to fuel and other supplies.

“It’s not as cheap as it sounds, but definitely it has appeal right now,” Major said.

Major and Holywell Properties realty agent Gary Little provided a sample of five private islands for sale.

Below are the marketing blurbs by realty agencies for these properties:

1 Lamb Islats

“Welcome to your very own Private 1 Acre Island just 2hrs from Downtown Vancouver! This Private Island is 500ft off shore (accessible by private boat – included) and offers 2 homes. The main house is an extremely open concept West Coast Contemporary home totaling 2,365SqFt with 3 Beds / 2 Baths & 2,280SqFt of patio with manicured gardens, seating areas, dining areas & large hot-tub with view. The second home is a 724SqFt Loft offering 2 Beds / 1 Bath & 220SqFt of patio including its own hot-tub & mountain views. These homes are positioned on either side of the Island for maximum privacy. Deep water moorage & 40Ft X 14Ft dock. Local fishing, crabbing, prawning & clamming provide you all the West Coast has to offer!”

Malei Island

Royal LePage Advance Realty’s listing price for Malei Island in the Queen Charlotte Strait amounts to  $875,000.

“45 acre tastefully developed private island in Queen Charlotte Strait. Malei Island is nicely nestled in Cascade Harbour on the NW shore of Nigei Island. It is entirely in its natural state with the exception of a small footprint to accommodate the residence and a suspended boardwalk which meanders through the forest from the eastern shoreline through to the west end of the island. The 2800sqft 2 story home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The 1500sqft main level incorporates an open concept plan featuring the living room and spacious, well-appointed kitchen with propane cookstove. There is a vaulted ceiling in the living room with a wood-burning stove and access to the expansive oceanside deck. Also on the main floor is one bedroom and a full bathroom. A mudroom / laundry room combination houses the on-demand hot water pressure tank and ultraviolet water filtration system as well as the stacking washer and dryer plus 2 showers. The electrical/mechanical room houses a bank of 12 batteries with a trace engineered inverter system, analytic systems/voltage converter, emergency back-up lighting and electrical panels. The 1300sqft upper level features three spacious bedrooms that all have large skylights on the pitched ceilings providing natural light and beautiful ocean views. There are a series of smaller rooms across the back of the home for storage and/or additional sleeping quarters. There is a washroom on the upper level. Underneath the house there is easy access for storage, building supplies, equipment and a side-by-side ATV. Domestic water is by way of rainwater collection to a series of large tanks underneath the front deck. Power is an integrated system of generator coupled with two wind turbines. The power is then stored in a bank of batteries then converted through the inverter system for full 110v power. Between the home and the oceanfront there is a helipad as well as a stone and mason wood-fired hot tub and cold pool built into the natural rock.”

O Burts Island

RE/MAX of Nanaimo – Dave Koszegi Group represents the seller of O Burts Island in the Alberni Valley worth $495,000.

“The most affordable private island on the real west coast. Never been touched this island hold onto old growth hemlock and red cedar trees that back out onto the islands natural beaches. The island itself is generally level which make for good building sites and it is sheltered from the rugged waters by the neighboring Burlo island which make this an attractive option. Bamfield itself is home to world class recreation with, kayaking, fishing and hiking all at your doorstep. Home of the famous West Coast Trail, Bamfield Marine Science Center and the Music by the Sea festival there is no shortage of things to do in this quant little town. A legacy property like this is truly one of a kind.”

LT 81 Leech Island

Sutton Group-West Coast Realty (Dunc) listed LT 81 Leech Island in the Cowichan Valley for $1,279,000.

“Own your own island and live off the grid! Just a few short minutes boat ride from Sunrise Point Road on Thetis Island you land on your own island of 3.37 acres with dock, 2 bedroom home, sleeping loft/boat house, community water from Thetis island, recently installed, advanced solar power system with generator backup. Fruit trees and garden areas. Amazing views from almost anywhere on this private island, looking south over to Clam Bay spit, Hall, Secretarys and Reid Islands. Great fishing and pawning nearby.”

Saturnina Island

Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty Gabriola listed Saturnina Island in Nanaimo for $1,495,000.

“A True Legacy Property. Your own private island awaits you. 10 gorgeous and tranquil acres with a foreshore lease in place where you may be able to place your own private moorage! Situated next to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club on Tugboat Island, you will find this unique gem of a property. A large soft pebbled beach within a protected bay provides opportunity for swimming, kayaking and float plane access. Boundless development potential awaits. Majestic views across the Strait are enjoyed and year round access is attainable by means of ferry service to Gabriola Island, or a brief 15 minute Seaplane flight service from Vancouver’s YVR South terminal. Claim your own piece of paradise with stunning Saturnina Island. Verify all data and measurement if deemed important. City:Saturnina Island”

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This Week’s Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Prices Forecasted To Fall Next Year, and Debt Problems To Get Worse – Better Dwelling

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Time for your cheat sheet on this week’s most important stories.

Canadian Real Estate

Canadian Real Estate Prices To Fall Up To 26%, Bay Street Firm Warns Institutions

A Bay Street firm is warning institutional clients of falling real estate prices. The firm’s latest model suggests prices may fall up to 11% at the national level, starting next year. In Vancouver, the declines can peak at a much higher 17%. Toronto may see the biggest dip, with declines of up to 26%. The firm joins other risk advisors, as well as the CMHC, in forecasting price drops next year.

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CMHC Finds Toronto And Vancouver Mortgage Debt Ratios Fall, But Not As It Seems

Canada’s state-owned mortgage insurer explained why debt ratios are so low. The debt to income ratio across Canada has been dropping to multi-year lows. While that typically implies households are improving their debt situation, that didn’t happen. Programs like CERB replaced twice the amount of income that was lost. This makes it appear like the debt to income fell, but in reality it should shoot up when those programs expire.

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CIBC: Canadians Have $90 Billion In Excess Cash, As Government Doubles Income Lost

Canadians have a big pile of cash waiting on the sidelines, according to one of the country’s big banks. CIBC analysts estimate households have $90 billion in savings above the forecasted amount. The bank believes this is due to government transfers replacing more than the income that was lost. By the bank’s estimate, the government replaced every $1 of income lost, with $2.25 in benefits. An unusual, and unprecedented event during a recession.

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Canadian Real Estate Sales Slow For The First Time Since The Beginning Of Pandemic

Canadian real estate sales slowed for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. CREA data shows 56,186 seasonally adjusted sales in October, down 0.7% from the month before. Unadjusted, there were 59,159 sales in the month, up 32.1% from the same month last year. The unadjusted numbers show sales are significantly higher than last year. However, the industry’s seasonally adjusted sales show this is due to the shifted period.

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CRA: 800,000 Ineligible People Did Not Get CERB, But They’re Checking Applications

Canada’s tax agency clarified a rumor – people that didn’t file taxes last year are still eligible for CERB. The rumor, perpetuated by some politicians, comes from a misunderstanding of the qualification criteria. Over 800,000 people who applied for the benefit, hadn’t yet filed taxes for 2019. However, the tax agency clarified filing taxes was not a requirement at this point. People can still qualify just on this year’s taxes. The agency then added they expect to verify eligibility next tax season, when they have the data to do so. Those found ineligible, will be asked to pay it back – potentially with penalties.

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Canada Saw Tens Of Thousands Of Six-Figure Earners Apply For Emergency Income

Canada’s CERB program was utilized by tens of thousands of people who earned six-figures last year. CRA data shows 90,720 people applied for CERB that had an income between $93,259 to $147,667 in 2019. Another 23,900 applicants filed taxes that showed they made between $147,667 and $210,371 last year. In the highest disclosed bracket, 14,070 applied for CERB that made over $210,371 last year. This implies a major disruption of income to households, who make considerably less on the income benefit. 

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