Quebec real estate brokers got some good news Monday when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
For the husband and wife real estate duo of Daniel Arsenault and Jennifer Smith of Royal Lepage Village in Pointe-Claire, it means they’ll be able to once again visit a potential client at their home, albeit two metres apart.
But it’s not completely business as usual as new pandemic protocols must be observed in the buying and selling of properties.
The traditional practice of holding open houses, in which properties for sale are showcased to the general public, will undergo tweaks.
“For example, if a family of five visits a home, only one person at a time is allowed inside,” Arsenault noted. “Given proper social distancing and limited numbers of people in a house at any time, proper sanitation, we’re pretty well back to business.”
In the new normal, virtual tours, or online visual tours of properties, will likely grow in popularity among both buyers and sellers looking to reduce person-to-person contact.
“We were doing it already, but more people will probably do it (now) is drone photography and 3-D virtual tours and floor plans,” Arsenault said. “That will become more of the norm because we want to make sure the people are qualified before visiting.
“In real estate, as in any sales business, you should qualify to lead. Now it’s much more so the case. We need to qualify that the buyers are financially prepared, that they’ve worked for a bit to decide what locations they want to go to.”
The onus on prospective buyers will be to filter info such as location, proximity to transportation lines and schools.
“So it’s a much more detailed analysis or qualification prior to committing to a visit,” Arsenault said.
Montreal’s red-hot real estate market has chilled like the rest of the economy since the city went into COVID-19 lockdown in mid-March. After 61 consecutive months of increases, the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area reported a 68 per cent decrease in residential sales transactions in April 2020 compared with the year earlier period.
“(The pandemic) is going to affect economy in ways we can’t even imagine,” Arsenault said. “Where there were 10 buyers before, now there might be five, so supply and demand might force prices down a bit.”
Arsenault said homes under $500,000 will likely remain attractive in a sagging economy.
“The low end of the market, in good locations, is insulated from (a downturn) … because if you’re in a bigger house and you need to downsize you’re going to go to the lower end. It’s more frugal.
“On the other hand, houses in a fringe location or are outliers in terms of size … is going to be a challenge. In other words, the house that was harder to sell before will be harder to sell now.”
Arsenault speculates that other factors, such as the type of housing and proximity to others, could affect the real estate market going forward.
“If you’re an elder person and planning to go into a retirement home, you’re holding off for now,” he said. “We have clients who are doing exactly that.”
Arsenault said the Montreal condominium market could also take a hit if buyers start looking for single-family homes with backyards and more space between neighbours.
“If people were on the fence, this will be a catalyst,” he said.
But other factors, such as proximity to medical services, must also be weighed if people move farther away from the city.
“We’re going to see fear of proximity,” Arsenault said. “No matter what the government is telling them, there is going to be a vast portion of the population that is going to be afraid to be around other people.
“Historically, after every major economic crisis, one of the trends was more people moving into smaller properties closer to major cities. So reduce your financial footprint.
“And now we have both happening at the same time. We have the financial crisis but we also have fear of proximity.”
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Pandemic continues to impact local real estate sales – BlackburnNews.com
Pandemic continues to impact local real estate sales
June 4, 2020 12:46pm
Residential home sales and listings plummeted over 40 per cent in May.
Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board President Donna Mathewson said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the industry.
“We were facilitating essential sales, now we can deal with any purchases or sales, but still keeping in mind that we are under a state of emergency for the province and we have to follow proper COVID protocols,” said Mathewson.
She said the market drive from buyers is still present, but sellers have been hesitant.
“We are starting to see more listings come on the market. People are a little bit more comfortable that we do have their safety in mind. When we sit down with a seller and we go over the risks of putting their house on the market and what we’re going to do to mitigate those risks, they seem to be more comfortable now than they were before, so we’re proceeding.”
123 homes sold last month, down 40.87 per cent from May 2019 and there were 171 listings, down 40.83 per cent from the same month a year ago.
Mathewson said they’re doing what they can to get homes back on the market.
“All the agents are well versed in what to do, making sure that buyers have as few touch points as possible when entering a home and that we make sure to sanitize after we’re finished.”
Volume sales dropped to $42 million, down 41.54 percent compared to nearly $72 million recorded in May 2019.
Toronto home sales in May up from April, but down significantly year-over-year – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, June 3, 2020 9:16AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 3, 2020 5:16PM EDT
TORONTO – Home sales are showing signs of improvement in the Toronto real estate market, but economists say it’s far too early to feel optimistic about the trajectory of a recovery from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The hole is very, very deep to dig ourselves out of,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist at Royal Bank.
Activity in the region improved in May compared with April, according to figures the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board released Wednesday. But it remained less than half of what TREB saw a year ago.
There were 4,606 sales in the Greater Toronto Area through the board’s MLS system in May, it said. That’s down 53.7 per cent compared with a year earlier.
However, sales in May were up 55.2 per cent compared with April.
The number of new listings also rose compared to the previous month, but fell year-over-year.
New listings totalled 9,104 – down 53.1 per cent compared with May 2019, but up 47.5 per cent from April 2020.
The average selling price rose three per cent from May 2019 to $863,599.
Those figures are enough to be optimistic about, considering the circumstances, said David Fleming, a broker at Bosley Real Estate David Fleming Group Inc.
“It’s completely in line with what I expected and I think … you’ll see that continue into June,” he said.
May saw substantial pick-up, he noted.
“So while sales figures are (still) down, do people care how many units are selling or do they care what the prices are?” he said.
The coronavirus knocked the wind out of what was expected to be among the strongest spring seasons in home-sales history, said Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres.
But with the COVID-19 shutdowns, the “period of adjustment” remains uncertain, especially when considering low interest rates against a surge in unemployment, she said.
“They’re opposing forces,” she said of those two factors.
“I don’t think we’re going to see gangbuster home sales, but I do think they’re certainly going to come off the bottom.”
In the Vancouver area, the local real estate board released figures Tuesday showing a continued steep year-over-year drop in May, but also noted gains from April.
Home sales in the Greater Vancouver area totalled 1,485 in May, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. That’s down nearly 44 per cent from May 2019, but up from 1,109 home sales in April.
New listings followed the same trend with 3,684 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the MLS in Metro Vancouver in May. That’s down 37.1 per cent from the same month the previous year, but up 59.3 per cent from the previous month.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.
Dutch firms plan 87-storey downtown Toronto high-rise – Real Estate News EXchange
Dutch developers Kroonenberg Groep and ProWinko are proposing an 87-storey, mixed-use high-rise which would tower over the downtown Toronto intersection of Bay and Bloor Streets. If approved and built as proposed, it would be Canada’s tallest building.
The companies have appointed Swiss-based architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron and Canadian architects Quadrangle to design the building, which is proposed for the northwest corner of the intersection. The project is in the early planning stages and would require approval from the City of Toronto.
“This is an iconic block in the neighbourhood and Toronto at large. We have an opportunity to deliver a project that sets a new benchmark for design and strives to give something back to the city,” said Lesley Bamberger, owner of Kroonenberg Groep, in a release Wednesday which announced the proposed tower.
The long, narrow property is currently the site of a 12-storey office building.
It sits next to another site where private developer Krugerand Corp., proposed last year to construct a stepped, 79-storey tower containing about 1,400 condominium units and three storeys (about 77,ooo square feet) of retail and commercial space.
The Bay-Bloor high-rise
The first 16 floors of the Kroonenberg / ProWinko project would replace the existing retail, office and technical functions.
A private amenities level will separate these functions from the condominium levels above, which the companies say will be characterized by “generous daylight through the floor-to-ceiling operable windows which provide natural ventilation.”
External shutters would allow each individual user to regulate the daylight and heat load into their apartment.
A large restaurant, sky lounge and rentable spaces will occupy the highest three floors of the building with spectacular panoramic views over the City of Toronto.
At street level, residents will enter a triple-height lobby from Bloor Street and take one of four dedicated lifts to their condo level. Residences will range from one-bedroom to multi-level penthouses, totaling 332 condominium units spread over 64 floors.
If approved and constructed at its proposed height of 1,063 feet, the development would be taller even than the proposed Sky Tower, a 1,027-foot, 95-storey high-rise planned for the Pinnacle One Young development.
The CN Tower remains Canada’s tallest freestanding structure at 1,815 feet.
First Toronto project
The tower marks Herzog & de Meuron’s first design in Toronto, with Quadrangle serving as project architect and Urban Strategies rounding out the design team.
The Bloor Street location places the building on a major east-west axis at the northern edge of the downtown core. It is also adjacent to one of the best-known shopping areas in Toronto.
The intersection with Bay Street is a strategic site within the neighbourhood and at the heart of a cluster of major new developments in the area.
The release says a “linear core at the western façade is proposed which maximizes the usable area of the floorplate, the aspect over Bay Street to the east and simultaneously provides privacy from any adjacent development to the west.”
The building will feature interior glazing (thermal envelope), exterior timber roller shades and an outer layer of transparent, open-jointed glass.
“The effect is a building which at times appears transparent and expressive – revealing the scale and activity within the building; and at other times, the reflective outer layer of glass gives the building an abstract quality, emphasizing its dramatic proportion,” the release states.
About Kroonenberg Groep
Kroonenberg Groep is an international developer, real estate investor and manager of retail space, workspace and residential space. It “realizes creative and sustainable tailor-made solutions that are completely in line with the needs of the market.”
ProWinko’s roots lie in the Netherlands, where the company has been active since 1990. Its portfolio consists of “high-quality real estate at top locations in major city centres,” the company says.
It is currently active in six countries (Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg and Switzerland).
About Herzog & de Muron
Established in Basel in 1978, Herzog & de Meuron is a partnership led by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron together with senior partners Christine Binswanger, Ascan Mergenthaler, Stefan Marbach, Esther Zumsteg, and Jason Frantzen.
An international team of nearly 500 collaborators including the two founders, five senior partners, eight partners and 42 associates work on projects across Europe, the Americas and Asia.
The main office is in Basel with additional offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Berlin and Copenhagen.
The practice has designed a wide range of projects from private homes to large-scale urban design. Many projects are highly recognized public facilities, such as museums, stadiums and hospitals, along with private projects including offices, laboratories and apartment buildings.
Awards received include the Pritzker Architecture Prize (U.S.A.) in 2001 and the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (U.S.A.) in 2014.
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