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Open houses resume, but the home-buying pastime has drastically changed – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press


Published Sunday, July 19, 2020 3:22PM EDT

TORONTO – Leave the doors open and all the lights on. That’s one of the many new guidelines for people opening their homes – perhaps for the first time in months – so real estate agents can host open houses.

Some provinces are now allowing open houses, with new rules in place, after regulators clamped down on showings amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said earlier this month that open houses will resume, with warnings to potential house hunters. Visitors to open houses there can expect to see signs displaying health precautions, use hand-washing stations and sign a visitor log for contact tracing.

Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening plan, which hit much of the province on Friday, also includes open houses under its new gathering limits of 50 people, or 30 per cent capacity, with physical distancing enforced.

Regina-based real estate agent Tim Otitoju says minimizing the need to touch doors and light switches is one of several ways the open house process has changed.

At showings, he is the one to open any front door – with gloves, sanitized hands and a mask – and he limits the number of people in the home at one time.

Before entering, potential home buyers and sellers answer questionnaires and sign waivers about any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19. Sellers who agree to the open house must sanitize the home.

The situation is all the trickier when landlords look to show properties occupied by tenants.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario has been discouraging unnecessary in-person private showings as well as open houses. But RECO doesn’t have the power to require agents to get a tenant’s consent.

“The imbalance of power that exists between landlord and tenant means renters are not always in a position to speak up and they should not be made to feel unsafe in their home,” said Mazdak Gharibnavaz, in a statement from the Vancouver Tenants Union, opposing the return of open houses.

While open houses are once again an option in many areas, that doesn’t mean every seller is on board, says Otitoju. Many still prefer to stick with virtual showings, and Otitoju himself opts for Zoom instead of in-person meetings for reviewing offers.

“I’ve got little shoe covers in the back of my care. My realtor tools have certainly changed,” says Otitoju, an agent with Platinum Realty Specialists.

“I’m finding that this is working. Now, a lot of people coming out to open houses are in the market to buy that type of house. The time to go around to open houses as a hobby – it’s not the time to do that right now. Buyers know that. Sellers know that. Realtors know that.”

It’s all part of the changing sales process in real estate.

It might seem obvious that for a purchase as big as a house, no one wants to buy a sight unseen. But Anthony Hitt says even buyers of expensive properties are seeing the upsides of virtual tools that were popularized during the pandemic.

A tour where a seller or agent carries a camera around the house, for example, can allow buyers to look closely at finishes, views through windows and inside cabinets, says Hitt, president and CEO of Engel & Volkers Americas.

For sellers, it reassures them that those who end up at in-person showings are interested in buying, he says.

Cameron McNeill, who does marketing of pre-build properties in the Vancouver area with MLA Canada, says that although showrooms have been open for a month, people continue to do more research online before coming to in-person appointments.

McNeill predicts that shopping for homes will become more like car shopping, where much of the research and emotional buying journey is done before hitting the lot.

“The most valuable thing you have is your time,” says Hitt, saying that online tours cut down on travelling.

“I don’t think we are going to eliminate open houses. We may see less of them and they may come at a different time in the process . . . . I don’t think a lot of consumers, even with masks and all the precautions , are ready to run out and be in a crowded property.”

It used to be common to share a meal with a client, but that’s not on Otitoju’s mind these days, he says.

“I don’t remember the last time I shook someone’s hand,” Otitoju says. “It’s not the only way to build relationships. You build relationships with your actions, and people see that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2020.

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Why residential real estate investors need to go big in 2021 – Wealth Professional

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While many Canadians have been seeking larger homes outside of urban centres, demand for properties in Canada’s largest urban centres have remained high.

Ottawa’s aggregate price increased 14.9% year-over-year to $568,608 during the fourth quarter, the greater regions of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver increased 12.4%, 10.4% and 7.2% to $487,380, $936,510 and $1,155,346, respectively.

“Throughout the second half of 2020, buyers were looking for as much space as they could afford. While many buyers shifted their target neighbourhood away from the city centre, so few properties for sale meant that most detached listings saw multiple-offer scenarios,” said Debra Harris, vice president, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd, referring to the Greater Toronto Area market.  “2020 did bring some balance to the region’s condominium market but larger units, often in the greater region, are still in high competition.”

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Introducing Personal Real Estate Corporations – Tax – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts

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To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.

Effective October 1, 2020, brokers and agents in Ontario can
incorporate personal real estate corporations (PRECs) to receive
remuneration for their services to their brokerage. The following
is a summary of PRECs and the relevant considerations that may
apply.

Why would I want a PREC?

The primary benefit of a PREC is the ability to defer income
tax. Without a PREC, agents and brokers pay tax at their personal
rate on the commissions they earn, which can be as high as 53.5% at
the top marginal rate. If paid to the PREC instead, the commission
will be taxed at the corporate rate of 12.2% on the first $500,000,
assuming the PREC is eligible for the small business rate. This
leaves you with more money to invest within the corporation. While
money you later take out of the PREC will be subject to personal
income tax, your accountant may be able to advise on additional
savings strategies, such as the payment of a salary or
dividends.

How do I know if a PREC is right for me?

If you would have funds to reinvest after paying your living
expenses and taxes, a PREC may be worth considering. You should
speak to an accountant and corporate lawyer to assess whether a
PREC makes sense for you.

What are the requirements of PRECs?

PRECs require the agent or broker to be employed (either as an
employee or independent contractor) by a brokerage, and to be the
only voting shareholder, the sole director, and the president of
the corporation. Non-voting shares may be held by other family
members. There must also be a written agreement in place to govern
the relationship between the agent, the brokerage, and the PREC,
among other requirements.

Are there any restrictions on PRECs that do not apply to
regular corporations?

There are several. The PREC may not carry on business as a
brokerage, nor can it carry on the business of trading in real
estate (other than to provide the services of the agent or broker
to the brokerage). This will restrict the use of the PREC to buy
and sell real estate. The PREC may only receive remuneration that
is associated with trading in real estate from the brokerage, and
the agent or broker can only receive such remuneration from the
PREC or brokerage. Furthermore, the PREC’s name and any
advertisements must not suggest it trades in real estate.

Can my existing corporation operate as a PREC?

Yes. However, this would involve amending the existing
corporation to turn it into a PREC. Alternatively, to achieve
greater flexibility you may wish to incorporate a second
corporation to operate as the PREC instead. Please speak to your
legal advisor for more information.

Does the PREC provide protection from personal liability?

It does not. While the PREC may receive commissions earned by
the agent or broker, it is not a vehicle through which he or she
provides services.

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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Fitch Rates Xinyuan Real Estate's Proposed USD Senior Notes 'B-' – Fitch Ratings

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Fitch Rates Xinyuan Real Estate’s Proposed USD Senior Notes ‘B-‘  Fitch Ratings



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