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Real estate deals will continue to be governed by the rule of safety first – TheSpec.com

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Q: Now that people are starting to receive vaccines for COVID-19, can I expect buying or selling a home to be more like it used to be?

I’m confident that real estate is not the only industry that would sum up 2020 as an unwelcomed roller-coaster ride. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, real estate professionals have found safe ways to support those needing to buy and sell real estate.

With vaccines now in transit and inoculation clinics being setting up, I think everyone is feeling a renewed sense of optimism as we eagerly count down the days until we can ring in the new year.

But it remains essential that everyone involved in, or planning, a property purchase or sale in the coming months understand the continued need to follow the advice of medical authorities and government officials when working with real estate salespersons to establish safety protocols for showing or viewing properties, where and when necessary.

This second wave of the pandemic has sent a clear message that it will continue to present challenges for some time. Even with the release of vaccines, broad distribution will take many months.

As we battle the effects of pandemic fatigue, the temptation to skirt and bend the rules on guidelines and recommendations is understandable. Face masks can be uncomfortable, and restrictions and protocols are inconvenient when trying to buy or sell a property.

Yet they are also vital measures needed to protect ourselves, our families and friends from harm and continue to make a difference in the fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Each one of us plays an important part in keeping every one of us safe.

Salespersons and brokerages have learned a lot since the start of the pandemic, and they are well-equipped to facilitate near-touchless transactions for their clients. From offering video calls and 3-D virtual tours and walk-throughs, to providing digital documents and electronic signature tools, the profession has risen to the challenge in offering virtual services and respecting the need for physical distancing.

RECO continues to encourage vigilance in adhering to the guidance of government and medical authorities, and discourage public gatherings wherever and whenever possible until further notice. This includes:


No open houses;

  • Limiting gatherings to permissible limits within regions; and,
  • Reserving showings for only when necessary.

Remembering that we’re all in this together, as we brace ourselves for a few more loops in this pandemic roller-coaster, will go a long way in working together to keep everyone safe.

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From everyone at the Real Estate Council of Ontario, have a safe and healthy holiday and a very Happy New Year.

If you have a question about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

Joe Richer

Joe Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) and contributor for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @RECOhelps

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2021 Could See the Tightest Muskoka Real Estate Market in Years – Toronto Storeys

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“We had a [property on a] small — tiny — spring-fed lake in Muskoka, where the list-price was $599,000, and it sold in two days for $875,000,” says Ross Halloran of Sotheby’s International Realty, reflecting on the first few weeks of the year.

That’s $276,000 over list price for a two bedroom, one bathroom, “teardown” cottage. Welcome to the current Muskoka real estate market in 2021.

Closing the year on-trend with what the last several months presented, the region’s real estate scene saw record-breaking sales in both its residential non-waterfront and waterfront property categories in December.

And looking forward, Halloran — alongside Maryrose Coleman, also of Sotheby’s International — doesn’t anticipate a decline in buyers’ desires to snag space in Muskoka.

READ: Muskoka Real Estate Closes Out Year with Record-Breaking Activity

What the pair does foresee, however, is supply struggling to keep up with demand.

A Market as Tight as Ever

“I never like to let my listing inventory drop below 30,” Halloran says. “We’re now at seven.”

Coleman reinforces the sentiment, stressing the issue their team continues to face is supply. At the present moment (and for months leading up to the present moment, too) demand is holding its own.

“It’s a really tight market,” Coleman says. “There’s very little available. And there are a ton of buyers out there trying to find the right property.”

In fact, Halloran goes so far as to call the current situation “a bit of a quandary.” Typically, considering cottage country as a whole — from Parry Sound to Lake Simcoe, and down to Bancroft, inclusive of Muskoka, the Kawarthas, Haliburton, and the like — he and Coleman will see about 100 new listings in a given week.

Lately, though, Halloran says they’re seeing far fewer hit the market.

“It was 13 listings last week… as we end this week, 22 new listings have come up,” he says. “We’ve got a stockpile of buyers, because we had so many listings we were able to engage and begin discussions with a number of buyers that had begun their journey… we’ve got what we would normally have in property inventory in buyer briefs.”

In other words, the numbers have essentially reversed themselves, leaving this Sotheby’s team spread thin.

As a result, Halloran and Coleman say they’ve needed to develop new policies for navigating working relationships with buyers. With so many people requesting their time, asking for research to be done on prospective properties, they’ve found themselves going through that whole processes only to find out — as they’re preparing to move forward with an offer — they’re actually in a multi-offer situation.

And let’s be clear: this mad dash for cottage country real estate isn’t just for multi-million dollar, move-in ready properties (though, of course, those are always a sought-after treat). Coleman says that there are “a whole bunch of people” who are looking for tear-downs or lots they’ll be able to build on, and typically, these buyers are hoping to snag spaces like this at prices much lower than those of move-in ready lake houses.

“Part of the challenge is, there are a lot of people who are very specific about what they want,” Coleman explains. “They want to be close to Port Carling, but not right in Port Carling. They want to be on Lake Rosseau or Lake [Joseph], they don’t want to be on any other lake. They need privacy, they want a boathouse.”

If these desires sound familiar, don’t fret. But also, don’t start packing up your boxes just yet.

“There are only so many properties like that,” Coleman says, “but there are a great number of people looking for them.”

Halloran says that, as such, they’re working to do whatever they can to obtain listings as spring approaches. “You are a function of how many listings you have,” he stresses.

Owners Holding On Tight

Halloran says that going forward, he expects a sellers’ market for the foreseeable future. In order to be able to participate in the year ahead, attaining more product is necessary.

“Usually in the spring — come the beginning of March — we’re usually seeing an average of 200 new listings a week leading up to the Spring Cottage Life Show. Then there’s a drop-off, after the Spring Cottage Life Show, and then probably by late-April we’re back up to 200. I think by the time the end of May rolls around … I’d see about 300 listings [across all of cottage country].”

But right now, the region is seeing about 22 listings per week, on average, while days-on-market stats are dropping and sale-to-list averages are increasing. In fact, at the moment, the Lakelands region is looking at less than 0.6 months of inventory — a record low.

As a result of all these changes, Halloran says he expects to see both individual agents and teams alike presenting with less than half their normal inventory. His personal goal? Attaining between 20 and 30 listings before spring hits.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do over the winter,” he says.

But, with ongoing queries, listing proposals, market analyses, direct correspondence, and new product continually being added, it’s safe to say the team has already hit the ground running.

Still, it’ll be “a grind” to get ahold of sustainable inventory, because people are hanging onto their properties… or perhaps they’ve just recently acquired them, and they’re still just settling in! Never mind considering leaving. After all, the last year has proven a flexibility in day-to-day navigation that many may not have considered before, which, in many cases — with consideration to working from home and online schooling — means more room for cottage country to fit in. Whether someone’s long been in the region or only just arrived, it’s understandable that Muskoka living is an experience any owner would want to hold onto.

“[What] the people that own are telling us now is: ‘Sure, I can make a huge profit, but how am I going to be able to buy back in?’” Halloran reports. “‘I may as well just sit tight for now and enjoy what I have… or renovate what I have.’”

Selling your property suddenly becomes less appealing when there’s nothing else left to buy.

Renting as an Impermanent (but Still Competitive) Option

Meanwhile, those struggling to find their perfect property in the resale market — or those simply looking for a less permanent cottage country experience — tend to turn to the region’s rental market. But Coleman, who captains Muskoka District Rentals alongside her Sotheby’s role, says the sector is facing similar supply-and-demand struggles.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t renting who traditionally have rented, when they’ve gone on European vacations [and the like],” she explains. “They might have done the summer — they would rent their cottage for the two, three, four weeks they were going to be away. And that’s not happening now.”

While Coleman says there have been some recent buyers who are open to renting, there have also been properties that used to be on the rental market that have now been sold. In essence, the newly-purchased properties will merely replace those prior rentals, instead of adding to them.

There are also places that may typically be in the rental sphere, but because their owners are currently living or working there, those spots aren’t available these days. What’s more, an air of uncertainty hangs over the summer, leaving cottage-owners unsure of how they’re going to navigate 2021’s warm months. So many unknowns linger, including whether summer camps will be closed or if international travel will be permitted.

Many people who felt the pinch of these scenarios last summer, and who didn’t have a rental option, learned from the experience and booked early. In August and September of 2020, eager summer-lovers reserved their rentals to ensure they’d have something to look forward to when the warmth rolled back around.

Now, Coleman says, others are scrambling, trying to find their own place to stay.

And sure, someone really hankering for a summertime escape could hop on any given rental site to book, but what Muskoka District Rentals offers is different.

“Part of the reason people like to work with a company like ours,” Coleman says, “is they know they’ll get a higher quality of cottage, and they’re going to have available to service them, if anything goes wrong.”

Also, there’s a benefit to the relationships that are built through use of a reliable, human-centred service such as MDR. For example, if someone isn’t able to find a rental option online, a phone call with a listing agent may result in them learning that in just a couple days, the perfect property will be going live.

Ultimately, it’s looking like Muskoka’s wild ride isn’t slowing down anytime soon, regardless of whether the topic of focus is resale or rental. And, if the region’s market has reinforced any universal truth over the last several months, it’s that the more people can’t have a thing, the more they seem to want it.

But another universal truth is this: anything worth having is worth fighting for.

If you’re gunning for a place with a Lake Jo view, or one that’s perfectly poised just minutes from Port Carling, we suggest the latter mantra as the one to keep in mind.

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Real estate quiz: Which Metro Vancouver home for sale has the most bathrooms? $10-million mansion holds record – Straight.com

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If disaster strikes and you and 14 of your friends need to use the loo at the same time, which home in Metro Vancouver is the best place to be at?

Adam Major, managing broker of Holywell Properties, got you covered.

But first of all, Major and Holywell Properties are not selling this home, which currently holds the title of most bathrooms.

The luxury property is on the market for nearly $10 million.

The exact listing price is $9,980,000.

Rather, Holywell Properties operates Zealty.ca, an online real-estate site that features listings, sales, and other information on properties.

To answer the question, the home that is currently on the market and has the most number of baths is 13283 56 Avenue in Surrey.

The mansion has 11 full baths and four half baths, for a total of 15.

What Major finds interesting is that the technology for the Multiple Listing Service or MLS that realtors use to post information only lets agents to list up to a maximum of 12 baths.

“That makes it hard for buyers to know that this house actually has 15: 11 full baths and four half baths,” Major told the Straight.

Major wonders if this incomplete information explains why it’s been taking a while to sell the luxury home, which features views of Boundary Bay.

“That inability to show how many bathrooms there actually are may partly explain why this house has lingered on and off the market for six years without a sale,” he said.

The 11-bed home was listed on January 21, 2015 for $12,880,000. The listing was terminated on May 7 of the same year with a reduced price of $9,388,000.

Other unsuccessful listings were likewise made in the following years and at various prices.

On December 14, 2020, the 16,398-square-foot home came on the market, with Angell, Hasman & Associates (Malcolm Hasman) Realty Ltd. as listing agent.

As of Sunday (January 24, 2021), the Panorama Ridge area home remains unsold after 41 days with its listing price of $9,980,000.

The 13283 56 Avenue home in Surrey has 15 baths: 11 full baths like this one in the image and four half baths.

One may wonder about the latest B.C. Assessment valuation of this home.

Its 2021 total value as of July 1, 2020 is $5,948,000.

The home speaks opulence. It has a pool, fireside outdoor lounge, private guest suite, home theatre, massage and spa room, professional gym, wine room, and media sports centre with baccarat and wet bar.

The property “sits majestically” on a “park-like estate” with a gated driveway and manicured gardens.

Likely because of the limitations of the MLS noted by Major, the marketing blurb by Angell, Hasman & Associates (Malcolm Hasman) Realty Ltd. made sure to mention that the home has 11 full baths and four half baths.

This $9.9-million home in the Panorama Ridge area of South Surrey has the most number of bathrooms.

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This Week’s Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Prices Increase Over 25x The Rate of US Home Prices, and BoC Sees “Gradual” Softening – Better Dwelling

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Time for your cheat sheet on this week’s most important stories. 

Canadian Real Estate 

Canadian Real Estate Prices Grew Over 25x Faster Than U.S. Prices Since 2005

Poor policy choices have led to a comically large gap between Canadian and US home prices. Canadian home prices generally move in line with US home prices, but disconnect in 2005. Instead of falling, prices accelerate in growth through to today. The result is prices have now grown over 25x faster than US home prices over the same period. Most surprising though, is half of these increases occurred in just the past 5 years.

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Bank Of Canada Sees Real Estate Softening “Gradually”

Canada’s central bank sees real estate softening “gradually” in the coming years. They believe the recent surge is due a shift in buying preferences, due to low interest rates. Sudden demand for single-family homes is due to this temporary shift. As these purchases normalize, the organization expects sales driven by the preference swap to fade. Along with the slowing sales, they expect “price growth will soften.”

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Canadians Collecting Unemployment Benefits Surges To A Record High

The number of Canadians collecting unemployment benefits surged to a record high. There were 1.24 million unadjusted claims in November, up 200.9% from a year before. The previous month represented the bulk of the increase, due to CERB ending. That means the bulk of these claims were a result of unemployment earlier this year. However, the fact that it’s still rising indicates there’s still more people getting hammered by this recession.

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Bank Of Canada Index Shows Real Estate Is The Most Affordable In Years. It’s Wrong

The Bank of Canada’s affordability index shows real estate is the most affordable in years. No one’s buying that narrative, so what gives? The index shows households require 31.5% of their disposable income for housing in Q3 2020. The past two quarters have been the lowest since 2015, raising some eyebrows. It has to do with how it’s calculated, and the CERB driven boost to disposable income. In other words, the indicator is broken during the pandemic.

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Canadian Real Estate Markets Are Low On Inventory, As Pandemic Slows New Listings

The pandemic is encouraging people to stay put, but the BoC is encouraging people to buy. The combination is leading to very high demand, in a low inventory market. Small cities like Trois Rivieres, Sherbrooke, and Gatineau are seeing inventory sell almost at the rate it’s listed. Western Canada is still slower than the national average, but are still unusually busy for this time of year.

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Ontario’s Most Popular Real Estate Market Is Now Rural, While People Flee Toronto

Ontario’s most popular real estate market isn’t a new hip urban area, it’s the country. Outside of census metropolitan areas (CMAs) saw a net intraprovincial increase of 10,392 people in 2020. The rural increases were unusual, until the surge of young people exiting Toronto over the past few years. Toronto’s net loss of population to other parts of the province works out to 50,375 people in 2020. This is the largest net loss in decades of data, and possibly goes back much further. Despite the pandemic contributing to the trend, it actually started a few years ago. Right around when home prices took off.

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Vancouver Real Estate

Vancouver Residents Were Moving To Rural BC, And Abbotsford Before The Pandemic

The pandemic has Vancouver residents seeking more space in rural B.C., but the trend goes back further. There were 45,481 people that left the Greater Vancouver region in 2019 for other parts of Canada. Rural B.C. is the number one place for those migrating, which saw a net inflow of 5,751 of residents. The trend is believed to have accelerated due to the pandemic, which has led to a distinct surge in rural home sales. It didn’t start during the pandemic though, with the trend going back a few years now, to when home prices took off.

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