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Real estate in the age of COVID-19: Bidding wars still, but a reckoning is near – The Journal Pioneer

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By rights, Ottawa’s real estate industry should be flat on its back. It’s a sector that relies heavily on buyers with secure jobs, direct personal contact and confidence in the future.

Yet, despite all the pernicious effects of social distancing, including lost jobs, shrinking wages and disappearing revenues in core parts of the economy, the past week has been anything but quiet.

“In the last seven days, we’ve seen 576 new listings, 119 of them in the past 24 hours,” says Bill Meyer, owner of HomeTeamOttawa, a real estate firm that markets services under the Remax Hallmark Realty banner.  “We are still in this period of pent up demand.”

Indeed, the COVID-19 virus smacked into Ottawa’s real estate industry just as it was scaling rarely seen peaks. Residential resale prices had soared 20 per cent year over year in January and February, the highest such gains in nearly four decades. Residential properties last month sold for a record average $564,000, while condos fetched nearly $350,000.

Even so, momentum will carry the sector only so far. A reckoning is coming and there’s a whiff of desperation in the air.

“We aren’t doing open houses anymore,” Meyer says, “but this market is strong because some people still have to sell. They’re changing jobs or they’ve already bought a house and need to sell to pay for it.”

It could be a much different picture once all these urgent sales clear the market.  “This could all come to a screeching halt,” Meyers observes. “I can’t imagine people listing their homes in this (COVID-19) environment unless they have to.”

Certainly working conditions have changed. The firm’s 15 agents and staff are working out of their homes. Meyers goes to the office for a couple of hours each morning and evening, when he is the only one there, and catches up with colleagues by phone or email.

Like many other real estate firms, Meyer’s company has stringent protocols in place. Agents still arrange showings, but there can be no overlap of potential buyers. Hand sanitizers or wipes must be available, and all inside doors must be kept open so no one has to touch surfaces.

Meyer on Tuesday arranged an estate sale in which all papers were signed electronically.

It’s a similar scene at Paul Rushforth Real Estate, an agency with 13 realtors. “We’ve closed our offices, but our front desk is still taking queries from home,” Rushforth says. “We’re not doing open houses, and showings (of houses) are just one person at a time.”

Rushforth says he has been surprised by the briskness of sales activity this past week, but can see underlying weakness. As with Meyer, many of his company’s new listings are from people who absolutely need the cash after buying another house earlier and fully expecting to pay for it by selling their existing home into a hot market.

So far prices are holding up, but Rushforth notes some telling patterns. “We’re still seeing bidding wars for properties,” he says, “including more than half our ten most recent deals.” But he notes that a property that might have attracted 10 bids early in March now gets just two or three. This, in turn, means sellers are not getting as much over their initial asking price. “This week we listed a property for $699,000 and it sold for $708,000,” Rushforth explains, “Two weeks ago, it would have got $770,000.”

John King, the broker manager for Engel & Völkers Ottawa Central, says he also notices the start of a shift. On Thursday evening, he fielded six offers for a property at 480 Brennan Ave., in the Hampton Park district. It sold almost immediately for $747,000, more than $100,000 over the original listing price.

On Friday, though, he was somewhat surprised to discover there were still no requests for showings for two new listings in the highly popular district of Westboro. “It’s day by day now,” King says.

For the moment, Engel & Völkers is keeping its Ottawa offices open with a skeleton staff. “There’s just one employee per floor,” King says, adding he is also making greater use of video by doing tours of his listings through Facebook. If people like what they see virtually, they can sign up for a showing in person, “one group at a time.”

The difference between what was and what will be in Ottawa’s real estate market promises to be stark.


ALSO IN THE NEWS


COVID-19: Italy deaths surge by 627, lifting total death toll to 4,032 and more updates


Is it safe to eat takeout food during a pandemic?


Stay home, practise social distancing, Ottawa’s medical officer of health urges

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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Real estate market seeing new challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic – CityNews Edmonton

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CALGARY (CityNews) – Buyers are not able to go into homes, and sellers are taking them off the market as they quarantine.

The real estate industry has been deemed an essential service and can carry on but now, buyers, sellers, and agents are navigating a contactless world in a market full of unknowns.

“A lot of my buyers have just decided to put everything on hold, there’s a lot of uncertainty with how their down payments may be with affected by RRSP’s (and) job uncertainty,” said real estate agent Joseph Burke. “We’ve also seen some listings come off whether people are being quarantined or concerned about their overall health.”

In Alberta, COVID-19’s impact on oil prices is also set to have a major effect on the market.

“We may not get hit with the crisis as hard as they are in Italy, but the economic side of things, with oil dropping as fast as it has and all of that, that’ll be what will affect us on the real estate side,” said Burke.

Homebuyers were already advised to take precautions during open houses, not touching surfaces and keeping distance but there’s been a directive from the Alberta Real Estate Association to discontinue them beginning this week.

“Our realtors are getting very creative in doing videos and showing the property in other manners however typically people still want to feel and be in the home,” said Diane Scott with Royal Lepage Solutions.

Because it’s only been weeks since a societal shift began, the true impact of COVID-19 is still not completely apparent.

“What we are yet to see, is the economic impact will be from this pandemic on the real estate market. As the data starts to come out we’re gonna start to see where those trends are going and how it will affect us moving forward,” said Burke.

Despite a time of uncertainty, Diane and Joseph say it’s creating unique openings.

“There will be an opportunity for you as a seller especially because you’re going to have less competition in the early stages of it, buyers will be looking at your home versus 5 other homes, instead of 50 other homes,” said Burke.

“It’s a great opportunity, our prices are lower, there’s inventory out there, so if they’re in a rental, for instance, it would be a very good time to start looking to buy,” said Scott.

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Toronto real estate sales plunge as coronavirus weighs on market: Realtor – BNNBloomberg.ca

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Canada’s largest real estate market “hit the brakes” in the last full week of March as sales plunged and sellers pulled listings in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a Toronto-based realtor.

What had been a gradual softening in Greater Toronto Area sales after a strong February turned decidedly negative last week, with sales down 37 per cent compared to the same period last year, John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty, told BNN Bloomberg in email.

There was also a 27 per cent increase in cancelled listings as the economy absorbs record job losses as entire industries come to a near standstill in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

“The market has definitely hit the brakes,” said Pasalis. He added some of those cancelled listings may end up getting relisted at a different price.

Despite the plunge in sales, Pasalis notes “the market is still quite stable because new listings are also on the decline.”

Numbers compiled by Realosophy Realty show new listings for the region fell by 33 per cent last week.

While last week’s average Toronto home price of roughly $856,000 is up about nine per cent year over year, annual price appreciation had been running stronger at the end of February into early March when there were more high-end homes being sold.

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Real estate market seeing new challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic – CityNews Calgary

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CALGARY (CityNews) – Buyers are not able to go into homes, and sellers are taking them off the market as they quarantine.

The real estate industry has been deemed an essential service and can carry on but now, buyers, sellers, and agents are navigating a contactless world in a market full of unknowns.

“A lot of my buyers have just decided to put everything on hold, there’s a lot of uncertainty with how their down payments may be with affected by RRSP’s (and) job uncertainty,” said real estate agent Joseph Burke. “We’ve also seen some listings come off whether people are being quarantined or concerned about their overall health.”

In Alberta, COVID-19’s impact on oil prices is also set to have a major effect on the market.

“We may not get hit with the crisis as hard as they are in Italy, but the economic side of things, with oil dropping as fast as it has and all of that, that’ll be what will affect us on the real estate side,” said Burke.

Homebuyers were already advised to take precautions during open houses, not touching surfaces and keeping distance but there’s been a directive from the Alberta Real Estate Association to discontinue them beginning this week.

“Our realtors are getting very creative in doing videos and showing the property in other manners however typically people still want to feel and be in the home,” said Diane Scott with Royal Lepage Solutions.

Because it’s only been weeks since a societal shift began, the true impact of COVID-19 is still not completely apparent.

“What we are yet to see, is the economic impact will be from this pandemic on the real estate market. As the data starts to come out we’re gonna start to see where those trends are going and how it will affect us moving forward,” said Burke.

Despite a time of uncertainty, Diane and Joseph say it’s creating unique openings.

“There will be an opportunity for you as a seller especially because you’re going to have less competition in the early stages of it, buyers will be looking at your home versus 5 other homes, instead of 50 other homes,” said Burke.

“It’s a great opportunity, our prices are lower, there’s inventory out there, so if they’re in a rental, for instance, it would be a very good time to start looking to buy,” said Scott.

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