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Market Crash 2020: 2 TSX Real Estate Plays I'd Avoid This Year – The Motley Fool Canada



Real estate companies will face several challenges stemming from COVID-19. Many companies are seriously considering letting their employees work from home for the foreseeable future. Downtown locations might not be so hip anymore, and commercial real estate will take a major hit at least in the short term as businesses decide how many employees are actually needed in the workplace.

People simply aren’t turning up to work. Toronto Transit Company (TTC), said that the pandemic has impacted it to the tune of $92 million in April 2020. Even as lockdown restrictions have lifted in May, the TTC is not seeing a huge uptick in this passenger fares.

All of these signs point to the fact that commercial real estate stocks might not be the best bet until there is clarity on the market and what companies plan to do. The two stocks in this piece are both commercial real estate landlords and the market hasn’t been kind to either.

A TSX real estate giant

Morguard Corporation (TSX:MRC) owns 206 real estate properties across North America across the residential, retail, office, industrial, and hotel assets. Its rent collections for the month of April 2020 were as follows. Residential rent collected was 96%, which accounts for 42% of revenues.

Only 47% of retailers paid their rent (accounts for 27.3% of revenues). Office space was a decent 93% (accounts for almost 30% of revenues), and the industrial tenants paid almost 87% (accounts for 1.2% of revenues).

As of May 5, 2020, almost 60% of the company’s retail portfolio was closed, representing around 16% of Morguard’s annualized revenues. Morguard stock was trading around $210 in February 2020 before crashing to less than $120 in May. There has barely been any recovery in this space. Fellow Fool Nelson Smith thinks that this is one of the best real estate stocks to invest in Canada right now.

The biggest challenge for Morguard is that many small businesses and retailers are not expected to survive the pandemic, which means there will be fewer businesses returning to their leases. My suggestion would be to wait for a month or so before buying into this story.

Why it’s time to avoid Melcor Developments

Melcor Developments (TSX:MRD) is another real estate development and management company in Canada that will face a tough time ahead. The company announced its results for the first quarter of 2020. While the numbers were decent, the company admitted that the future is uncertain.

They expect the pandemic to have negative repercussions on future cash flows and funds from operations. The statement said, “The extent and duration of the impact on our results cannot be accurately predicted at this time. We anticipate that sales of single-family lots may slow down and that our tenants may not be able to pay full rent. In addition, our golf courses opened later than usual due to restrictions on recreational activities and our pro shops and restaurants remain closed.”

It added, “While our business has survived economic ups and downs for nearly 100 years, the current situation is indeed unprecedented.”

This line in particular doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Melcor stock has fallen from over $12 in February to just over $7 today. The road to recovery is long and tough. Avoid the stock for now.

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Fool contributor Aditya Raghunath has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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Kamloops real estate market shows some improvement after slow spring – Kamloops This Week



June real estate sales figures appear to show the market returning to normal, but the president of the Kamloops and District Real Estate Association said the figures may just show a catch-up after a slow spring.

June saw 291 residential units sold in Kamloops and the surrounding region. That’s an 8.2 per cent increase over June of last year, and a 66 per cent increase over May’s sales, according to data released by KADREA president Wendy Runge.

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“The sales in June signify that if we keep doing what we are doing, the impact of the pandemic on the real estate markets could be softened through the rest of the year,” Runge said in a media release.

The average price of a home sold in Kamloops has also increased, from $438,242 in 2019 to $459,504 in 2020, a 4.8 per cent increase.

But with a slowed market in April and May due to COVID-19, the number of homes sold in Kamloops so far this year is down 24 per cent.

“Although June numbers have improved, numbers may be indicative of the sales completing in June because of a slow spring,” Runge said.

Runge called the rally a “muted recovery” in the market and said she expects the trend to continue, with better days ahead.

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Niagara real estate sales increasing after COVID-19 slowdown –



Niagara’s real estate market is continuing to rebound, after sales were initially curtailed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Niagara Association of Realtors reported a 59 per cent increase in sales in June compared to a month earlier, with 767 homes sold.

“There a lot of people who have outgrown what they have and were planning to move earlier when this hit and now they just can’t wait any longer,” said association president Terri McCallum.

She said there is high demand for properties “in the starter and move-up ranges, which is decreasing the days on market and moving the homes price index up” in all but one area covered by the association.

Prices for Niagara homes increased by 11.4 per cent compared to June 2019.

The real estate market initially experienced significant decreases in sales as the pandemic hit the region — with sales dropping by 38 per cent in the last week of March.

But in the months since, McCallum said, local realtors have begun implementing initiatives making it easier for people to shop for new homes online.

“Realtors have really embraced virtual showings, virtual tours. They’re putting the floor plans online so that people can actually visualize” the homes they’re considering.

“Those kinds of add-ons in the listings have certainly helped to eliminate some in-person showings, because people don’t need them.”

Meanwhile, she said, stringent realtors are also doing a lot to ensure the safety of clients when they physically visit properties, such as wearing masks, disinfecting surfaces, leaving doors and windows open and using COVID-19 “declaration forms” to help track people who have visited a home, just in case any illness is detected among them.

“I think that sellers and buyers are feeling more confident that with these safety protocols in place it’s OK to go about their business,” McCallum said.

She said many of the protocols put in place during the pandemic will likely remain when its over.

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After years of seeing increasing real estate prices in Niagara, McCallum said she expects the trend to continue.

“I think it’s safe to say that with the lack of inventory, it only drives prices up. It’s supply and demand and it always has been.”

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It’s a seller’s market in Nova Scotia real estate right now –




Saltwire Network

Real estate activity in Nova Scotia took a nosedive during the early days of the pandemic, but surprisingly, there’s been a strong rebound.

Stats from the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR) show residential sales activity, recorded through the MLS® System of the NSAR, numbered 1,428 units in June 2020. This was an increase of 10.4 per cent from June 2019 and was also a new sales record for the month of June.

The total dollar value of all residential home sales in June 2020 was $408.7 million, rising 21.6 per cent from the same month in 2019.

This was a new record for the month of June and was also the largest dollar value of homes sold for any month in history.

Nova Scotia Association of Realtors past president Matt Honsberger.

NSAR past president Matt Honsberger says July is also shaping up to be an exceptionally strong month province-wide.

An interesting pattern that realtors noticed during the pandemic period is that rural areas of the province experienced less of a downturn in sales.

“People who are maybe in denser populated areas are trying to find a little bit more space,” says Honsberger.

“It kind of makes sense if you were holed up over the past three months in a one-bedroom apartment, you might be interested in finding someplace that has a little bit more room to roam.”

He adds that it appears the normal spring market has been shifted into the summer a bit.

It’s yet to be determined what the fall will bring.

The average price of homes sold in June 2020 was $286,227, rising 10.1 per cent from June 2019. There were 1,769 new residential listings in June 2020. This was down 6.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis but marked a considerable rebound from levels in the previous two months.

Overall supply (of homes for sale) is running at the lowest levels in more than 15 years and continues to fall. Active residential listings numbered 4,398 units at the end of June. This was a large decline of 35.5 per cent from the end of June 2019.

There were 3.1 months of inventory at the end of June 2020, down from the 5.3 months recorded at the end of June 2019 and below the long-run average of eight months for this time of year. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

Honsberger says people are working with their agents to try and find homes and are sometimes competing with five, 10, or 20 others for hot properties in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). 

Sellers often end up with all the control because there are less of them and they can demand a little more.

Courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association
Courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association

There’s not as much competition outside HRM but even in places like the Valley and South Shore, you’ll see competition for the good listings that come on,” he adds.

“That’s simply a measure of supply and demand. More buyers than sellers,” he says.

Courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association
Courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association

Will the situation carry over to Spring?

“It’s really hard to look that far ahead right now. So much of it depends on what happens – any resurgence of COVID-19 and the impact on employment, for example,” says Honsberger.

“I would say at worst we would see a balancing of our market by next spring, where there’s the right number of buyers for the right number of houses.”

Three years ago, there were more sellers than buyers. Today, a property that sells for $300,000 might sell for $295,000 or for $350,000. That’s a big difference when you’re trying to get advice in terms of what to offer. Agents are doing their best to provide guidance, he says.

He sees the supply of homes catching up to the demand in the next six to 12 months.

Courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association
Courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association

Honsberger shared that he is one of the many who started looking for a more rural property at the peak of COVID-19.

“We bought a cottage in the Valley because we really don’t see ourselves travelling for a few years and we have a young family, so the idea of sitting home all summer didn’t make a lot of sense to us.”

For them, daydreams of sunny days and a lake where the kids could run around, jump in for a swim or go kayaking, won out over sitting in a home next to the Armdale Rotary during social distancing protocols.

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