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Real estate sales during COVID-19 lockdown can cause anxiety for tenants – BradfordToday



Having multiple strangers constantly coming into your home can be stressful and frustrating for families trying to be safe during a COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, but it’s a situation tenants are powerless to prevent. 

“I can’t even visit my kids’ grandma, but 18 to 24 people can come through my home,” said Tyler Robinson, whose landlord put up for sale the house in which he, his wife and daughter are living. 

Despite the province’s stay at home and emergency order restrictions, real estate sales are allowed to continue.

Robinson, a Barrie resident, reached out to NewmarketToday regarding his concerns because the listing agent is Grace Simon, who is also a Newmarket councillor. 

Well aware that he couldn’t deny entry to his landlord or his agents, Robinson expressed his concern and frustration about the high volume of realtors and potential buyers — up to eight a day — trekking through his home throughout the selling process.

Robinson said public health guidelines were not always being followed by the people he was obliged to allow into his home.

“We have had to sit there and get our three-year-old daughter and my wife in a mask and wait for these people to leave so I can disinfect things. People don’t even follow the rules — one woman pulled her mask down to ask my wife if the appliances were working,” he said.

Even when the showings were scheduled when the family was away from home, Robinson said his security system cameras caught the realtors taking things like business cards out of their pockets and putting them on his table.

“Did you disinfect those cards before you put them in your pocket, or are they in a plastic bag? It’s getting a little ridiculous,” he said.

The purchase is now complete, but Robinson said he doesn’t think his family should have been put in such a stressful situation when they are trying to stay safe. 

Simon, who is a sales representative with exp realty brokerage, said she and other realtors have found themselves at a nexus of competing pressures — the need to keep tenants safe, the need for people to continue to sell and buy properties, and the need for real estate agents to continue to make a living.

“It’s frustrating when tenants are upset because I have been trying my best to keep them safe. But there are just circumstances when people must sell,” she said. 

The province maintains real estate is an essential service, however, open houses are banned and showings, if necessary, must be made by appointment.

Simon said she has been following current guidelines issued by the Real Estate Council of Ontario and had requested other realtors viewing the property to do the same.

The family who owns the house in which Robinson’s apartment is located needed to sell the home following the death of a family member, Simon said. She priced the home aggressively — it has since been purchased — and allowed other realtors to bring their clients for showings, she added. 

“I wanted to get a lot of showings in a few days so it would be over quickly. But in the meantime, everyone needs to follow strict guidelines … Had it not been for the landlord’s situation, I would not have listed this property because of the tenants.”   

Simon said she instructed the realtors bringing clients to the home to limit the size of groups to two people, sanitize surfaces, and follow all public health guidelines and precautions. But she wasn’t present at the showings and can’t say for certain that they all followed those instructions.

Just like in the rest of society, there are too many people in the real estate industry who are not taking precautions as seriously as they should, and realtors need to be extra vigilant, especially when they are putting tenants in an awkward situation, Simon said.

“This is an issue, and people are not following the rules. If we are going to keep being designated an essential service, we need to make sure we are sticking with all the guidelines. But I did everything I could to make sure they had those guidelines.”

The real estate council is calling for realtors to ideally get the consent of the tenants for showings and “strongly recommends” such showings be kept to a minimum. But they can still go ahead with 24 hours of notice allowed under the Residential Tenancies Act. 

“We encourage all parties to approach such situations with a desire to be flexible and understanding, with full consideration of the risk of transmission associated with in-person showings,’ the guidelines state.

Other guidelines from the council include:

  • Ask buyers or their representatives to screen for COVID-19; 
  • Record the name and contact information of each person;
  • Consider requiring all clients to book an appointment in advance;
  • Abide by a schedule to encourage consumers to wait for their turn;
  • Limit the number of individuals allowed into a home at one time based on the size of the property;
  • Maintain physical distancing of at least two meters metres from people outside of your household or social circle;
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary environment;
  • Ensure all lights are on and all doors (including closets) are open in areas consumers may want to see;
  • Recommend to client that they disinfect their home after open houses;
  • Disinfect lockboxes and keys on exiting the home.

The Ontario Real Estate Association published its own guidelines that also call on realtors to do their best to accommodate tenants’ concerns, to limit the people going through a property, and to rely on virtual tours as much as possible. It also recommends that no more than two visitors be allowed at a time, something that Robinson said did not happen with all visits at his home.

According to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, the fact that there is a lockdown or a state of emergency does not give tenants the right to refuse the landlord or their agent reentry into their unit. 

“However, the (board) is mindful of the government’s advice for Ontarians to practise self-isolation and physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants should discuss the issue with their landlord and explain concerns they may have regarding the situation, and try to work it out in a cooperative way,” said the board in a statement to NewmarketToday.

“If a landlord and tenant are unable to reach an acceptable resolution, we recommend that parties seek legal advice on their options.”

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Early signs point to a slight cooling of Grey-Bruce real estate market – Owen Sound Sun Times



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The head of the local real estate board says the Grey-Bruce market is showing signs of leveling off from the frenzied buying that had been taking place over the past couple of years.

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Steve Dickie, president of the Realtors Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound, said Tuesday that local agents are starting to again see conditions put on sales, some price reductions on listed properties and even a decrease in the number of offers on homes.

“The conversation around offices is that it is not as frenzied as it was last year,” Dickie said. “There are still lots of situations where you have multiple offers, but if you are watching the board on a daily basis every once in a while you will see a price reduction, which we haven’t seen in a long time.”

And Dickie said they are again seeing conditions attached to sales, even the condition on the sale of a buyer’s property, something that was non-existent in 2021.

“There are still lots of offers that are straight cash offers, but we are starting to see some conditions in there,” Dickie said.

“We are even seeing the odd home inspection. That has been one of the side effects of this whole thing is that there have been a lot of home inspectors that have gone out of business because they just had no work.”

Dickie said it is hard to say what has caused the slight cooling of the market, but rising interest rates could be a factor. Last month the Bank of Canada raised rates half a per cent, and indicated future rate hikes could be possible to try to help tame surging inflation. An easing of pandemic fear and even the War in Ukraine could be having an impact on the housing market locally, Dickie said.

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“Any time there is a world event going on it makes people somewhat uncomfortable,” said Dickie. “It makes people a little less comfortable with the stability of things and you kind of see a bit of slowdown or a cooling I guess and then people say, I guess it is OK, the world is not coming to an end, and off they go and continue down the path.”

The number of homes sold through the MLS System in Grey-Bruce totaled 283 units in April, which was down more than 25 per cent from April 2021.

Over the first four months of 2022, home sales have totaled 937 units, which is a decrease of 13 per cent from the same period of 2021.

Dickie said it will take a bit of time to see if the slight cooling of the market is a trend.

“There is not enough to make a call yet, but if we see a few more months of this we can be more sure in our predictions,” he said.

Meanwhile, home prices have remained elevated in Grey-Bruce, with the average price of the homes sold in April coming in at just under $744,500, which is up 19.4 per cent from April 2021.

The average price of homes sold in Grey-Bruce in March was $759,427, while year-to-date in 2022 the average sale price has been just under $755,000, an increase of 22 per cent from the first four months of 2021.

“Prices are still high for sure,” said Dickie. “Normally in these situations when we start to see a slowdown we will see it in the very expensive properties first. We are just going to be monitoring that as the next couple of months go on.”

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Dickie said larger centres like Toronto experience much more dramatic moves in the housing market than an area like Grey-Bruce.

In Toronto, the average price of homes declined 6.4 per cent in April from the month before on a seasonally adjusted basis. It was the biggest monthly drop in that market in two years. Toronto home sale totals also declined 26 per cent from the month before.

Typically in Grey-Bruce, Dickie said they see prices level off for a while before they start to go up again.

“I am trying to tell people locally to stay calm,” Dickie said. “Nothing is going to crash.”

RAGBOS, which represents approximately 450 realtors, also provides MLS Home Price Index benchmark prices, which it says tracks prices far more accurately than is possible using average or median price measures. The benchmark price is based on the value home buyers assign to various housing attributes, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The overall MLS HPI composite benchmark price for Grey-Bruce was $619,800 in April, which was an increase of 25.8 per cent from April 2021. For single-family homes the benchmark price was $623,500, up 25.7 per cent from a year ago, for townhouses and row units it was $506,300, up 26.5 per cent, and for apartments it was $382,000, up 40.7 per cent from April 2021.

Meanwhile, Dickie said agents are starting to see more listings coming onto the market, which is welcome as the region had been experiencing an extended period of record-low supply.

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While the 447 new residential listings in April was down 4.3 per cent from a strong April 2021, they were close to 14 per cent above the five-year average.

At the end of April, the number of active residential listings totaled 461 units, which was up more than 10 per cent from the end of April 2021, but still 28.7 per cent below the five-year average.

The months of inventory numbered 1.6 months at the end of April, which was up from the 1.1 months recorded at the end of April 2021, but still below the long-run average for the time of year of 4.7 months.

“Even this morning I was talking to several agents and they were talking about how they had more and more listings coming up, and there are more and more listings on the real estate board on a daily basis than we had seen earlier in the year,” Dickie said. “That is positive that people are getting their houses listed, which helps the whole situation out.”

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Canmore real estate developments back on after tribunal ruling | CTV News – CTV News Calgary



A contentious proposed real estate development in Canmore got new life Tuesday.

One year ago, Canmore town council rejected the Smith Creek development and decided the Three Sisters Village proposal needed significant changes.

Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd., the project developer, appealed the decision to a municipal tribunal, and Tuesday the town was ordered to allow the projects to proceed.

Conservation groups fought the proposal, saying it didn’t provide enough space for wildlife to travel through the valley.

“Unless overturned, this decision will cause harm to the lands, and wildlife movement and habitat of an important part of the Yellowstone to Yukon region,” said a statement issued by Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative on Twitter. “Keeping these lands connected and intact is in the best interest of Albertans now and into the future. Connectivity provides the best chance for some of our most cherished and threatened wildlife to thrive.”

There was no word from the Town of Canmore on whether it will appeal the decision.

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Greater Toronto Area real estate approaching ‘buyer’s market’: BMO – Global News



In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians hoping to buy homes have had to brave a sizzling seller’s market where waiving inspections, blind bidding, and dozens of competing offers are the norm.

Now, BMO’s chief economist says what many potential house-hunters are hoping for — a balanced or, better yet, buyer’s market — may finally be arriving.

Read more:

Canada needs new homes built, but construction industry headed for retirement wall

In a new data snapshot issued by the bank on Tuesday morning, Doug Porter said there’s been a “quick fall” in the sales-to-new-listing ratio which is a key part of assessing who holds more power in the Canadian real estate market.

That ratio dropped from 76 per cent to 66 per cent last month, a level not seen since June 2020.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said Monday that level is “right on the border between what would constitute a seller’s and a balanced market.”

As a result, CREA noted home prices have just seen their first monthly decline in two years.

When it comes to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) specifically, Porter raised the possibility of a buyer’s market.

“The GTA sales-listing ratio plunged to just 45 per cent in April, which is suddenly getting into buyers market terrain,” Porter wrote in the BMO snapshot data assessment.

In contrast, he said that number has been around 70 per cent over the past year, making for a “firmly seller’s market.”

“And what the ratio is now telling us is that prices are about to go from 20%+ gains to a sudden stall. And that’s assuming the sales/listings ratio doesn’t fall further in the coming months.”

Read more:

Bidding war no more: How to make an offer in Canada’s cooling housing market

The decision by the Bank of Canada to keep interest rates at rock-bottom levels during the pandemic has been attributed as one significant factor fuelling Canada’s surging home prices over recent years.

But the shift in market sentiment comes as the central bank is in the midst of a series of rate hikes taking aim at rampant inflation, which has hit 30-year highs as a result of reopening economies, supply chain problems and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A lack of housing supply has also prompted growing political pressure on governments of all levels to increase construction — a challenge, given a wave of retirements poised to hit the construction sector.

Right now, though, BMO economist Shelly Kaushik said in a separate data snapshot on Tuesday that new home construction is increasing, with the industry “firing on all cylinders.”

Whether and for how long that will continue remains to be seen.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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