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This real estate agent gives shelter to more than just homebuyers – Vernon Morning Star

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As a real estate agent with Royal LePage Downtown Realty, Cari Rochford helps people in Vernon and the surrounding areas find homes that feel safe and comfortable. For many that means buying a house or condominium, but for some members of our community that means taking shelter from domestic violence. Cari helps with both.

“I’m fortunate enough to donate a portion of every transaction, on behalf of my clients, to the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. This fabulous charity benefits women’s shelters across Canada. They keep local donations in local communities, so my donations in Vernon go to the Archway Society,” Cari says.

The Archway Society for Domestic Peace (formerly Vernon Women’s Transition Society) offers a wide range of supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including:

  • safe shelter
  • counselling
  • child and youth advocacy
  • outreach services
  • collaborative community projects

Paying it forward

“I didn’t have a relationship with the Archway Society before becoming a Real Estate agent, but I was so impressed with the opportunity through the Shelter Foundation to take my good fortune and pay it forward,” Cari says. “I loved the idea that they give 100 per cent of the money to local charities.”

Royal LePage is the only Canadian real estate company with its own charitable foundation, and because Royal LePage covers administration costs all donations can stay in the community.

Cari grew up in Vernon and has spent most of her adult life living and serving the community. After over two decades as a nurse she started a small business assisting seniors transition during downsizing. Adding real estate services to that work was a natural progression that has allowed her to help more than just seniors.

“I love working with first-time homebuyers too! There’s a lot to learn the first time you buy a house, and it’s nice to be able to help.”

Since 2016 Cari has been able to donate $3,250 to the Archway Society from her home sales, and she hopes to host events with her colleagues in the future to make an even bigger impact. Every May the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation hosts a National Garage Sale where members of the community can donate gently used items to their local Royal LePage office. Uncertainty around large gatherings may prevent Downtown Realty from hosting an event this spring, but it will go ahead in the future.

The Trek for Shelter, where Royal LePage agents fundraise before undertaking a gruelling trek, is also on Cari’s to-do list. The 2019 trek across the Sahara Desert raised over a million dollars for the Shelter Foundation, and considering she has already climbed to Machu Picchu, Everest Base Camp and Mount Kilimanjaro, the Trek for Shelter seems like a perfect fit.

“I’m really blessed with all the great opportunities to get involved and help my community,” she says. “I want to say a big thank you to all my clients for helping make these donations possible.”

To learn more about how the Shelter Foundation helps in Vernon, call Cari Rochford at 250-545-5371, email carirochford@royallepage.ca, or visit carirochford.com

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Pandemic bites northern BC real estate market – Prince George Citizen

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The COVID-19 crisis is taking a toll on real estate sales in northern B.C., with demand for housing tailing off and fewer properties up for sale compared to 2019.

During the first quarter of 2020, from January through March, the BC Northern Real Estate Board had 753 sales worth a total of $217,389,724 through its Multiple Listing Service.

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There were 3,096 properties of all types available throughout the first three months of 2020, compared to 3,130 a year ago. As of March 31st there were 509 properties available, down from 534 at that time in 2019.

The sluggish economy in the region, especially in the forestry, mining and oil/gas sectors, is to blame for the 13 per cent decline in sales in the region, according to the BCNREB. With fewer listings available, the average price for a single-family home did increase by one per cent to $298,811.

In Prince George, 221 properties were $73.3 million were sold. That’s down from 257 properties worth about $90 million through the first three months of 2019. Three of the four sections of the city included in the report released Friday reported an increase in the median selling price of single-family homes over last year.

In the western part of Prince George, 34 single-family homes sold with a median value of $346,000 ($327,500 in 2019). East of Highway 97, 29 homes sold, worth a median $272,500 ($309,000).

In the Hart area north of the Nechako River, 29 homes sold with a median price of $401,250 ($370,000). In the southwest section, 37 homes sold in the first three months of the year had a median price of $453,500 ($429,500).

The board expects second-quarter sales will continue to decline in the wake of the pandemic and the resulting scale-back of operations for major resource projects in the region.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant challenges to everyone in our society,” said BCNREB president Shawna Kinsley. “Our members are committed to doing their part to ensure communities stay safe. Real estate is an essential service.

“Realtors are following all orders and guidance from the Public Health Authority… (and) are also modifying their practices around face-to-face meetings and showings. The real estate board has recommended that no open houses be held during this time.

“Sellers may now remain on the MLS system without the need for showings and all consumers can expect more phone or virtual meetings as well as limits on showings and new showing guidelines. We ask consumers to be patient with real estate practice changes at this time.”

Other real estate sales in the region from January-March 2020, with the 2019 numbers in parenthesis:

Mackenzie: Ten (12) properties were sold worth $1.5 million ($1.4 million) with 56 (63) properties available on MLS for purchase as of March 31;

Burns Lake: Four (16) properties worth $456,000 ($2.3 million) were sold with 80 (87) properties listed;

 Vanderhoof: Nineteen (30) sales worth $4.4 million ($12.2 million) with 89 (80) properties listed;

 Fort St. James: Eleven (nine) sales worth $2.1 million ($1.9 million) with 54 (61) properties listed;

Quesnel: Forty-seven (55) sales worth $8.5 million ($11.7 million) with 161 (147) properties listed.

Williams Lake: Fifty-eight (91) properties have sold worth $ 15.4 million ($21.4) with  190 (207) properties listed.

 

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How Ontario realtors are coping during the coronavirus pandemic – Global News

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When the province deemed real estate an essential service due to the coronavirus, it was recommended that realtors stop doing open houses.

Realtor Colleen Koehler said that when Ontario Premier Doug Ford kiboshed gatherings of five or more, that essentially put an end to open houses altogether. Koehler, head of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors, says people in the profession have begun looking for creative ways — including virtual tours — to show homes without people actually going in them.


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She says that instead of taking clients into a home, the agent will go in, film the house, and take questions in real-time.

Toronto realtor Melanie Piche seconded the notion, saying that realtors have begun to use technology to their advantage.

“Virtual open houses are a way to introduce people to properties and really reduce the number of times people are having to go into each other’s homes,” she said.

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Her partner, Brendan Powell, explained that a realtor will show up at a home at a set time and date and will address people’s questions on a live stream.

“People who want to do more than just look at a virtual tour can actually talk to the agent and say, ‘Can you show me what the flooring’s like?’ or ‘Show me what the view from the top floor is like,’” he said. “People can see those things the same way that they might see it if they were there without actually physically being there.”

In an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, realtors have also developed a questionnaire to determine someone’s risk levels and have used some creative solutions for when people need to enter into houses.


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Another Waterloo region agent, Tony Johal, said in some cases where clients have entered a home, they have been asked to wear a mask and gloves.

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“We ask that they don’t linger around the house longer than what they probably should,” he said. “We ask that they don’t sit on the furniture or touch any … surfaces.”






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Even with the precautions, the realtors in each city say that the market has paused for the most part during a time of year when it would normally be active.

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“From the outside, it sometimes seems like stuff is coming up still as things are still on the market,” Powell said. “But the reality is that there’s … very little that we can do because so much of our business is out and about and in person.”

That said, Piche said she has not seen any panic selling yet.

“If you go back to 2017 when that foreign buyer tax came in, we saw in an instant we were getting four or five calls a day from panic sellers,” he said.

Johal echoed those sentiments, though he has begun to see more balance in the market.


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“We haven’t shifted all the way over to a buyer’s market at this point,” he said. “They’re not underpricing their property to drive multiple offers in many cases. I would say more than 50 to 60 per cent of all properties are now being listed at the true market value.”

Ontarians are still trying to figure out how long the quarantine will last and where things will land, including the realtors.

“We don’t know whether or not this will truly create an impact for the rest of the year and maybe beyond,” Johal said.

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“But if it’s fairly quickly, then I can see the real estate market acting like an elastic band. Everybody that left is now going to spring back into the market.”






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He says that the longer the current state of affairs goes on, we will see an increase in the likelihood that the market will shift more dramatically.

KWAR released its monthly numbers on Thursday, saying that area realtors saw an increase of 13.1 per cent compared with the same month last year.


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“Before the pandemic hit our region, I believe we were on pace to set a record number of sales for March with the continuance of high demand, low inventory, and a strong seller’s market,” Koehler said.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board reported similar activity, saying that home sales were up 49 per cent in the first two weeks compared with last year, but sales were down 15.9 per cent compared with last year for the rest of the month.

Given the lockdown Ontarians are under due to the coronavirus pandemic, many were left wondering why real estate was deemed an essential service by Ford.

“Really, that decision was only made to allow us to work with those clients, buyers and sellers, that are already in the pipeline,” Koehler said.

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“We have lots of properties that are currently closing,” Koehler said.

Kingston realtor Matt Lee said his agency is recommending that clients put the pause button on the search for homes but there are times when it is impossible to do so.

Between the military bases and the prisons, Kingston has a transient population, with some residents being forced to move quickly.

“Nobody knows what kind of position other people are in,” Lee said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hamilton's real estate sales jumped in March, but analysts predict slumping market rest of year – HamiltonNews

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The provincial government identified real estate as an essential business because, Robertson said, there is a need for people to have a place to live. Real estate agents also had to make sure the proper documentation was completed for in any transaction that occurred before and during the pandemic.

The Ontario Real Estate Association sent out an information document March 25 urging real estate agents to suspend all open houses, agent and public office hours and in-person showings.

“In these unique situations, where a property listed for sale is occupied by tenants, the health and safety of those tenants, the realtors and their clients are of utmost priority,” said San Morrison, president OREA in a news release.


Robertson said real estate agents are using more technology in their work such a video conference calls, digital signing and virtual tours. If a person wants to buy a house, the prospective buyer can make a quick tour of the property to confirm any intentions whether to buy or not.

“It’s harder to service your customers,” Robertson acknowledged.

But he says real estate agents can quickly adapt. Prospective buyers, he said, in the past have examined a property in such a place as Florida, for instance, using virtual technology. Potential buyers are then given a deadline to physically see the homes or building and, if they like it, they make an offer. The same process can proceed under the current limitations, said Robertson.

Robertson’s portfolio is concentrated on commercial and agriculture properties, which are easier to conduct a transaction. He can have a face-to-face discussion during meetings while maintaining the six-foot physical separation and most, if not all, of the properties on the market are empty so it’s not a problem examining the structures or land.

“It’s pretty easy to do, if you observe the physical distancing,” he said.

Robertson said with historic low interest rates — the Bank of Canada slashed its benchmark interest to 0.25 per cent — he can see people who want to upsize to a better house or older people inclined to downsize. The idea is a strengthening job market next year and an expected immigration surge could push sales to more than 40 per cent in 2021 with prices moving to favour sellers.

“With the interest rates now, money is basically free,” he said.

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