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How will COVID-19 impact the real estate market in Canada? – MoneySense



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To say the events of the past few months have had an unprecedented impact on how our society functions would be an understatement. As the threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic grows across Canada and all levels of government enact policies to stop community spread via social isolation, millions of Canadians in the non-essential workforce are now working from home and abstaining from visiting businesses and other public places.

These efforts to “flatten the curve” are paramount to keeping high-risk citizens safe and preventing our health care system from being overwhelmed. But they’re also having a profound impact on industries that rely on in-person interactions, like restaurants and hair salons. They’ve also led to fears of a global recession and limited purchasing power for consumers when the risk of the coronavirus subsides. 

The real estate industry, in particular, is a prime example of one that will need to drastically adapt if it’s to be “business as usual.” While brokerages and real estate agents have been deemed “essential services” by the Ontario government, there have been some key changes to the way agents must operate—and it remains unclear how the market will perform as the pandemic evolves.

What can buyers and sellers expect from the market during these uncertain times? Let’s take a look at what could occur in the short- and long-term.

In the short term

A cooler spring than expected

Before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, the spring real estate market was set for a record-breaking sales season, especially in Canada’s largest cities. The Canadian Real Estate Association revealed the month of February was particularly hot for year-over-year sales, which rose 27% nationwide, indicating the busy spring buying season had started early. Similar performance was recorded for Toronto and Vancouver homes for sale; transactions rose 45.6% and 44.9% year over year in those cities, respectively. As well, a lack of new properties on the market was a prevalent theme in major urban centres, putting the squeeze on buyers, and leading to tight sellers’ market conditions.

Despite this strong start, however, we can now expect to see market activity slow down, as buyers and sellers may reach a stalemate. Buyers may decide to hold off on their home purchase amid uncertain health and economic conditions, while sellers—having seen what others got for their properties in the late winter months—may be hesitant to accept a lower offer today.

However, there are still those who need to buy and sell right now, such as those who have already sold their homes and are on a time crunch to buy a new one. These “highly motivated” buyers and sellers include people who need to relocate for work, are going through a divorce, or need to downsize or upsize quickly.

As well, buyers may be hesitant to take the plunge on a home purchase at a time when employment and income circumstances could change rapidly; they may be wary of lost savings in the face of the financial market downturn, or fear becoming unemployed in the near term, which would jeopardize their ability to secure mortgage financing for their home.

Overall, those who don’t have urgent real estate needs will most likely stay on the sidelines for now, as the situation evolves.

Agents need to find creative alternatives to face-to-face service

In the age of social distancing, one of the most obvious challenges for real estate agents is showing homes listed for sale to prospective buyers, as everyone is wary of the public health risks showings pose, and wants to minimize in-person contact. 

That’s led to brokerages, including Zoocasa, enforcing new company rules and guidelines that prioritize virtual interactions, leveraging tech to provide a high level of service to clients, without the in-person impact. Because our operations are digitally enabled, our head office employees are working remotely, and our brokerage operations are paperless; we’ve also enacted new, stricter standards for in-person interactions.

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COVID-19: Real Estate Update – Real Estate and Construction – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts




COVID-19: Real Estate Update

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As of Tuesday, March 24, 2020 all of Ontario’s
“non-essential services” were required to close in
response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic in the province. This
mandatory shut down will last a minimum of 14 days, with an
extension possible at the discretion of Premier Doug Ford.

The Ontario Government recently clarified which businesses and
services were deemed “essential” and would therefore be
allowed to remain open throughout this two-week period. A complete
list of essential workplaces can be found here. These include law firms and
WeirFoulds lawyers are fully operational and ready to assist

For the real estate industry, the following services qualify as
essential and will therefore continue throughout the shutdown

31. Banking activities related to credit intermediation;
credit unions

65. Professional services including lawyers and para-legals,
engineers, accountants, translators

67. Land registration services, and real estate agent
services and moving servic

Further, as Service Ontario operates its land registration
system online, we are hoping that transactions will continue to be
able to close without issue. Our Group is working to identify and
deal with issues that may arise in this regard.

For new or ongoing transactions, the off-title searching process
may be delayed or hindered altogether with the closure of some
municipal services. Please be advised that when purchasing
properties, these searches may take significantly longer than
usual. However, there is some good news for purchasers: many title
insurers are now offering extended coverage under owner and lender
policies to respond to the marketplace’s unavoidable delays and

The WeirFoulds Commercial Real Estate Group is committed to
ensuring that your transaction can proceed as planned. While our
office has adopted a “work from home” policy, our
lawyers, conveyancers and staff remain fully accessible without
disruption. Our Group has full access to all our clients’
working files, searches, documents and agreements. This includes
our conveyancers who we rely on a great deal in identifying and
resolving difficult title issues. The WeirFoulds Commercial Real
Estate Group is able to assist in any way needed.

Even though we are working remotely, we continue to collaborate
seamlessly with our other Practice Groups that we traditionally
look to for their expertise in commercial real estate matters,
including Leasing, Municipal, Expropriations, Infrastructure,
Construction, Corporate, and Environmental.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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Real estate market seeing new challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic – CityNews Edmonton



CALGARY (CityNews) – Buyers are not able to go into homes, and sellers are taking them off the market as they quarantine.

The real estate industry has been deemed an essential service and can carry on but now, buyers, sellers, and agents are navigating a contactless world in a market full of unknowns.

“A lot of my buyers have just decided to put everything on hold, there’s a lot of uncertainty with how their down payments may be with affected by RRSP’s (and) job uncertainty,” said real estate agent Joseph Burke. “We’ve also seen some listings come off whether people are being quarantined or concerned about their overall health.”

In Alberta, COVID-19’s impact on oil prices is also set to have a major effect on the market.

“We may not get hit with the crisis as hard as they are in Italy, but the economic side of things, with oil dropping as fast as it has and all of that, that’ll be what will affect us on the real estate side,” said Burke.

Homebuyers were already advised to take precautions during open houses, not touching surfaces and keeping distance but there’s been a directive from the Alberta Real Estate Association to discontinue them beginning this week.

“Our realtors are getting very creative in doing videos and showing the property in other manners however typically people still want to feel and be in the home,” said Diane Scott with Royal Lepage Solutions.

Because it’s only been weeks since a societal shift began, the true impact of COVID-19 is still not completely apparent.

“What we are yet to see, is the economic impact will be from this pandemic on the real estate market. As the data starts to come out we’re gonna start to see where those trends are going and how it will affect us moving forward,” said Burke.

Despite a time of uncertainty, Diane and Joseph say it’s creating unique openings.

“There will be an opportunity for you as a seller especially because you’re going to have less competition in the early stages of it, buyers will be looking at your home versus 5 other homes, instead of 50 other homes,” said Burke.

“It’s a great opportunity, our prices are lower, there’s inventory out there, so if they’re in a rental, for instance, it would be a very good time to start looking to buy,” said Scott.

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Toronto real estate sales plunge as coronavirus weighs on market: Realtor –



Canada’s largest real estate market “hit the brakes” in the last full week of March as sales plunged and sellers pulled listings in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a Toronto-based realtor.

What had been a gradual softening in Greater Toronto Area sales after a strong February turned decidedly negative last week, with sales down 37 per cent compared to the same period last year, John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty, told BNN Bloomberg in email.

There was also a 27 per cent increase in cancelled listings as the economy absorbs record job losses as entire industries come to a near standstill in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

“The market has definitely hit the brakes,” said Pasalis. He added some of those cancelled listings may end up getting relisted at a different price.

Despite the plunge in sales, Pasalis notes “the market is still quite stable because new listings are also on the decline.”

Numbers compiled by Realosophy Realty show new listings for the region fell by 33 per cent last week.

While last week’s average Toronto home price of roughly $856,000 is up about nine per cent year over year, annual price appreciation had been running stronger at the end of February into early March when there were more high-end homes being sold.

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