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Ontario real estate association calls for halt to open houses as COVID-19 cases rise

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TORONTO — The Ontario Real Estate Association says it is asking agents to halt plans for open houses, as the province reported a record high of 939 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

Open houses resumed in mid-July as part of the province’s Stage 3 reopening plan, which at the time allowed gatherings of 50 people, or 30-per-cent capacity, with physical distancing enforced.

On Friday, the province announced a modified return to Stage 2 COVID-19 restrictions, which would limit open houses to 10 people. The government is also asking people in those areas to leave their homes only for essential purposes.

Ontario real estate association president Sean Morrison said that notwithstanding the 10-person limit, he is encouraging members to shift open showings virtually, instead of a Sunday afternoon slot allowing anyone to touch the surfaces of a home.

“OREA is pleased that the government is again listening to our advice on restricting open houses and we are hopeful that they will go a step further and ban them province-wide,” Morrison said.

Morrison says agents and brokers could still follow safety precautions for private showings.

Ontario real estate agents do have a disciplinary body, the Real Estate Council of Ontario, which can issue punishments to rulebreakers. In September, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board took down an agent’s listing after he hosted an open house while a COVID-infected tenant was home.

But Morrison says the government would be a better first line of enforcement in terms of making sure open houses stay under control.

“Open houses in smaller properties like condominium units can be very difficult to conduct with social distancing.  A province-wide ban would set a clear rule,” said Morrison.

In Quebec, which is navigating its own challenges with COVID-19 case counts, open houses are “allowed but not necessarily recommended,” according to Marjolaine Beaulieu, a spokeswoman for the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers.

The new restrictions in Ontario come after months of record-high sales in many Ontario real estate markets, as pent-up demand to buy homes has outpaced supply of single-family homes and lifted prices. In March and April, transactions plunged as agents were encouraged to avoid any in-person transactions that weren’t urgent. Morrison said he isn’t recommending that level of shutdown at this point, and that he doesn’t think limiting open houses will slow down the hot market or limit sellers’ willingness to list.

“We are calling for our members to do the right thing,” said Morrison

 

 

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Canada real estate: TD Economics sees high home prices holding up in fourth quarter before dropping in 2021 – The Georgia Straight

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Home buyers looking for a bit of a discount may want to wait a little.

A housing report by TD Economics predicts that high home prices will persist for the rest of 2021.

“Regarding prices, we think they’ll hold up at these record levels in the fourth quarter…,” economist Rishi Sondhi wrote.

Then things will start to ease in 2021.

Sondhi explained that tight supply is driving high home prices.

According to the TD Bank economist, the real-estate market is currently in seller’s territory.

The economist noted that the national sales-to-new listings ratio in September “registered a drum-tight reading” of 77.2 percent.

He noted that “markets were the tightest they’ve been in nearly 20 years in September”.

Sales-to-new listings ratio is the number of sales divided by listings.

A seller’s market means that the sales-to-listing ratio is 60 percent or more, or six sales out of 10 listings.

A balanced market features a ratio between 40 percent and 60 percent.

A buyer’s market happens when the ratio is less than 40 percent, which means fewer than four sales for 10 listings.

In a report on October 15, the Canadian Real Estate Association noted that the national average price of a home set a new record in September.

The average price topped the $600,000 mark for the first time at more than $604,000.

In his report on October 15, Sondhi predicted “some easing is anticipated” for prices after the fourth quarter of 2020.

This is consistent with Sondhi’s previous report on October 8.

The bank economist noted in that earlier report that “unlike sales, an immediate fourth quarter pullback is unlikely” for prices.

 “In fact, another (modest) gain could be in the cards,” Sondhi wrote.

“After the fourth quarter,” Sondhi predicted on October 8, “Canadian prices will likely drop through the first half of 2021 by around 7%, before regaining some traction later next year.”

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Brookfield weighs US$3B life-sciences real estate portfolio sale – BNN

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Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is exploring a sale of its life-sciences real estate portfolio, and seeking about US$3 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Toronto-based alternative asset manager is working with advisers to sell roughly 2.3 million square feet of life-sciences real estate it acquired as part of its 2018 purchase of Forest City Realty Trust Inc., said the people, who requested anonymity because the information isn’t public.

A Brookfield representative declined to comment.

Blackstone Group Inc. agreed last week to recapitalize a portfolio of BioMed Realty life-sciences buildings for US$14.6 billion, a deal that will generate US$6.5 billion of cumulative profits four years after investing in the properties.

Life sciences, which includes pharmaceutical, biotech and other medical research fields, is a sector where most staff can’t work remotely. That has stabilized the value of such properties.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., one of the largest real estate investment trusts that owns on life sciences properties, has fallen 2 per cent this year compared to a 14.6 per cent decline of the Bloomberg U.S. REITs Index.

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ULI & PwC to Release ‘Emerging Trends in Real Estate’ Report

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An upcoming report on Canada’s real estate market will highlight our nation’s resiliency through the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide impacts to retail, office spaces, and suburbanization have been felt hard in the development industry, as landowners, sellers, and buyers are all affected by the trials of 2020. Many in the industry are viewing this as a prime opportunity to reposition their portfolios, so this is among the topics to be covered in PwC and ULI’s new Emerging Trends in Real Estate report.

“The coming year will be all about embracing opportunities to be resilient in the face of uncertainty, while shifting strategies in anticipation of market headwinds,” reads a statement issued by Frank Magliocco, National Real Estate Leader, PwC Canada. “For the first time in a few years, we’re hearing divergent views from industry players about issues like the future of office spaces and the urbanization and suburbanization trends.”

Downtown Toronto, image by Forum contributor Michael62

Set to be released on October 30th, the report’s 2021 edition touches on trends and outlooks in the Canadian and US real estate markets. Among these are specific changes to the market, including breakdowns of specific submarkets. Within the commercial real estate submarket, this includes details on retail troubles, office space uncertainty, and warehousing gains. Within the residential real estate submarket, the report discusses the concept of “creating 18-hour cities across Canada,” environments that combine live, work and play elements, as more Canadians are drawn towards more spread out suburban communities.

“The tension between longer term trends and fundamentals and short-term realities manifests in this year’s must-read report,” reads a statement from Richard Joy, Executive Director of Urban Land Institute Toronto. Prudence, “in the face of uncertainty, while dampening some sectors and trends, is accelerating and expanding others.”

The report is to be launched at the end of the month with an online webinar event led with a keynote delivered by Andrew Warren, Director of Real Estate Research at PwC, which is set to be followed by a panel of local experts panel to be moderated by PwC. The program has been expanded, with this year’s event offering attendees the opportunity to participate in various sessions, including a closing Fireside Chat with Jon Love and Aliyah Mohamed to further explore the economic landscape of the real estate development sector.

Those wishing to attend the ULI/PwC Annual Trends in Real Estate webinar on Friday October 30th, from 8 AM to 12 PM, can register at this link.

 

Source: – Urban Toronto

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