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Reasonable Rollout: How Real Estate Business Might Resume – Forbes



A month after our shelter in place took hold here in New York, with another month to go, real estate practitioners all over the state have begun to speculate about when and how business might resume. We, our customers, and our clients are looking forward to safely beginning to transact again. At the same time, none of us wish to assume undue risk as we move back into a more active mode. I, therefore, offer a few thoughts, some my own and some gathered from others with whom I am in contact, about what a reasonable rollout might look like:

No more Open Houses. While this may seem obvious, it needs to be stated. For the foreseeable future, agents cannot create situations in which a group of people are encouraged to occupy the same space. The virtual open house, in which an agent leads a video tour through the apartment, will be our substitute for the time being. That tour, in addition to clear photos, greater specificity about such issues as ceiling height and construction values in the written description, and a detailed floor plan, should enable prospective purchasers to do a “first viewing” online.

Showing protocols will involve social distancing. As showings begin again, agents and buyers will need to adhere to strict protocols to keep all parties and the property free of infection. These protocols might include allowance for the seller’s agent to conduct the showing, observing distancing requirements, with the buyer’s agent, if desired, attending the showing virtually on FaceTime. Gloves, booties, and masks should be required for all parties. The exclusive agent will open any doors or cabinets into which the buyer wishes to look; the buyer will be asked to touch nothing in the apartment. Once the buyer leaves, the agent will disinfect all surfaces which have been touched. 

Agents, buyers, and sellers will have to choose. Those sellers who do not feel ready to allow strangers into their homes, and those buyers who don’t feel ready to do so either, will make their own decisions about when they are ready. Similarly, those seller’s agents who, by reason of age or health, prefer not to do showings can choose to either find another agent in their firm to conduct the showing or allow the buyer’s agent to do so while observing the same strict rules.

Office time should be staggered and curtailed. Most administrative staff and many agents in New York must ride to work on public transportation. Since this inevitably involves proximity to others, the risks should be mitigated by staggering both office hours and office days. Many employees will have perfected techniques for working from home, which they should be permitted to do much of the time. I would suggest that staff be staggered so no more than 50% is in the office at one time, with that 50% arriving and departing, to as great a degree as possible, at off-peak hours. At my company [Warburg Realty], we will also alternate agent office days so everyone in the offices sits a minimum of 6 feet away from their nearest colleague on either side. Our offices will be sterilized by UV lighting and viricidal cleaning products. 

Closings should be continued virtually. The way closings were conducted throughout my career, with a group of participants crammed into a small conference room, will be a thing of the past for the foreseeable future. Since attorneys and transfer agents have gained experience in handling many aspects of closings virtually, using DocuSign and virtual notarization, these skills should continue to be deployed as we open the business up while still maintaining safety.  Use of several conference rooms and protective gear will also aid in this effort to keep critical attendees socially distanced.

The Governor should lay out a behavioral roadmap. New Yorkers will feel more confident in proceeding towards a new normal if the state government and health authorities endorse it, ideally with specifics about how business should best be conducted. The Governor’s words, these days during which he has become a national spokesperson for rational response, will reassure the public substantially.

No one has a timeline for when we can (or will) feel safe about interacting freely within our social and business environments. But we all know that the economy must be kicked into gear. How carefully and strategically the real estate industry can ramp up will make all the difference for agents, buyers, and sellers in both transacting business and staying safe on the streets of our cities and towns.

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RE/MAX (July) | Hot Summer for the Ottawa Real Estate Market – RE/MAX News



After a spring that seemed to drag on for too long, summer arrived fast and furious. Following months of strict lockdown measures and a laundry list of public health guidelines that put Canada’s economy on pause, the public’s patience is paying off as the tide begins to turn in the province and across the country. Now that things are beginning to reopen and resume activity, has the real estate recovery begun as well? The numbers are certainly looking favourable in the Ottawa real estate market.

The nation’s capital was one of many housing markets that saw a temporary plunge in activity, with home sales cratering as much as 60 per cent in April, but the keyword is temporary.

The latest data suggest a huge rebound in almost every facet of this local market, from listings to resales to mortgage payments. Will summer continue to be a seller’s market as anticipated before the crisis? Slap on some sunscreen and let’s take a peek at the red-hot Ottawa housing market.

Summer in the Ottawa Real Estate Market

Our worst fears about the impact of the public health crisis upon the real estate industry have yet to be seen. Some may suggest that this is due to the commendable work of Realtors nation-wide, who continued to work during the pandemic and swiftly adapted to changing conditions (admittedly we, at RE/MAX, are a little biased). Whatever the case may be, the COVID-19 shock did not result in a perpetual collapse in the Ottawa real estate market – or even within other major Canadian markets.

Although industry experts have been cautious in their predictions on how the virus outbreak has and will continue to impact home-buying and selling, the pandemic appears to have only put a temporary pause to Ottawa real estate activity. As early as May, the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) reported that the average sale price of a residential-class property surged 11.2 per cent in May compared to the same time a year ago, to an average sale price of $548,140.

The average sale price of an Ottawa condo was $343,589, up 15.5 per cent at an annualized rate.

Analysts note that the renewed activity likely stems from the pent-up demand that existed before the shutdown. When you factor in Ottawa’s stable employment levels, as well as support from the federal government, the nation’s capital had been viewed as a stable investment throughout the chaos. There is no indication that things will change during the dog days of summer.

Does this suggest a strong summer or a resurgence in the fall? The immediate future is uncertain, warns the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in a recent report.

“As the virus is overcome, cities will bounce back, but there is significant uncertainty with respect to the path and timing of the recovery,” said Aled ab Iorwerth, deputy chief economist at the CMHC, said in a June report on the housing market outlook in Canada’s largest cities. “Rapid elimination of the virus and a resurgence in global trade will clearly be of benefit while further waves of the virus will put negative pressure on the economy.”

In addition to sales activity and prices, another factor impacting the real estate industry will be the remote work trend. In recent months, many professionals have been working from home, and a recent Angus Reid Institute study found that most Canadians working from home believe they will continue to do so, even after the pandemic is over. Real estate agents might be expected to accommodate this prevalent expectation, with home seekers adding “home office” to their must-have list.

Some experts are suggesting that employers may be requested to fund additional home office space or even partially pay for the cost of renovations. If the work-from-home practice remains embedded in society, real estate – in Ottawa and elsewhere – will need to accommodate this.

Showers in 2021 to Bring Flowers in 2022?

With talk of a possible second virus wave and various contrasting predictions for the nation’s recovery, there remains a great deal of uncertainty regarding the months ahead. What we do know is that borrowing costs are expected to remain at historical lows as the Bank of Canada (BoC) will keep interest rates at near-zero for the foreseeable future. Further, if social distancing guidelines continue and another lockdown is necessary in the future, the real estate industry has shown that it is ready to adapt at a moment’s notice.

Realtors have been quick to adjust to the new real estate landscape, leveraging technology and utilizing digital tools to service their clients. When they did have face-to-face meetings, strict measures were met to ensure public safety.

CMHC has prepared its early estimates for 2021 and 2022. Canada’s top mortgage insurer forecasted that the average price of residential MLS transactions in Ottawa would range between $406,000 and $460,000 next year. Furthermore, the housing agency said average prices would increase to between $415,000 and $490,000 in 2022. Put simply, a possible drop next year followed by a rebound in the following year.

It all boils down to this: even if Ottawa’s hot real estate market were to take a dip this year in the wake of a possible second wave, average home prices are likely to continue their steady increase on a long-term trajectory.

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Real estate: These are Ottawa's five hottest neighbourhoods – CTV News Ottawa



Ottawa’s July real estate market was as hot as the temperatures.

Despite these uncertain times, the market experienced double-digit growth.

Taylor Bennett of Bennett Property Shop Realty says a normal July would mean a slight dip in the number of sales, and the average sale price of properties.

“As we all know, 2020 hasn’t been your normal year, and unsurprisingly the historical trend was broken,” he says.

Bennett explains that even though the market prices continued to climb during lockdown, inventory levels were at an all-time low.

“Buyers had fewer options to consider during a time of the year when we normally see the highest levels of inventory.  But now that we are entering our 4th week of Phase 3, we are seeing activity we normally see in the spring.”

Residential numbers are up more than 15.7 per cent over July of 2019. The condo market has had even more growth, up 18.2 per cent over last July.

“Properties are selling faster than they are being listed, creating an extremely competitive market for buyers. They have to be more prepare than ever to enter into negotiations, especially if they are looking in some of the more sought-after areas.”

As for the hottest neighbourhoods: Hintonburg, Dunrobin, Vanier and Greely are up by more than 45 per cent over last year.

Manotick and Overbrook are tied for fifth place, up by more than 37 per cent.

“Hintonburg and Manotick have appeared on this list before.  But both Dunrobin and Greely likely make this list due to the new societal working habits – the need to be close to your office may not exist as more people are telecommuting and both of these neighbourhoods offer more home for your dollar,” he said.

Bennett says Vanier’s popularity is no surprise.

“As the city population continues to grow we are seeing more gentrification, and Vanier is perfectly positioned for that – great proximity to downtown and the Queensway & next to Rockcliffe and New Edinburgh, a new pedestrian bridge connecting it to Sandy Hill, new infrastructure project being completed by the city and an LRT stop to the south.”

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Kelowna real estate agent fined $6500 for 'misleading' website – Kelowna Capital News



A Kelowna real estate agent has been fined $6,500 for creating a website that advertised services he was not licensed to provide.

According to a July decision from the Real Estate Council of B.C. (RECBC), James Kevin Adams, an agent who used to work with local real estate firm Sage Executive Group, created a website called “K-O Properties” in 2017. The site advertised property management services around the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

In its decision, the council called the website “false and/or misleading” as neither Adams nor anybody else affiliated with the site was licensed to provide such services in B.C.

Adams said the K-O Properties site was a working prototype, which he planned to have fully-running only after he was licensed to provide strata and rental property management services. He argued he only published the site to “work out the bugs” and “see how it would work by having [his] friends interact with it.”

The web designer Adams hired to build the website said Adams “most likely was not aware that [the website] was live.”

While the council said no evidence existed of Adams actually providing such services through K-O Properties, it still deemed his actions constituted professional misconduct.

Adams signed a consent order on July 16, agreeing to pay a $5,000 fine and a further $1,500 in fees to the council. He also agreed to complete a real estate and trading services remedial education course at his own expense.

READ MORE: Class resumption raises challenges for Central Okanagan schools

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