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With the real estate market plummeting, realtors turn to high tech solutions – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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Realtors have always wanted their listings to be tidy and smell nice, ideally like fresh-baked bread.  Now they prefer the aroma of Lysol.

While COVID-19 has made the real estate open house a thing of the past, and doldrums doesn’t begin to describe the state of the market across Canada (stats released Friday have sales down 57 per cent), savvy realtors are turning to technology.

“When we get a listing we give the option of virtual tours, which consist of photos, video and what’s called Matterport, a virtual tour you can interact with.  So instead of physically walking through the home, this program allows you to virtually walk through…so it gives you a three-dimensional look at the home without touching anything,” said Shane Anderson, a realtor with Royal LePage’s Pike Group in Halifax

Anderson said his group has been using video for years, which has allowed his colleagues to stay ahead of the curve in embracing technology that the coronavirus is making necessary.

“We want to minimize, for obvious reasons, the number of people going into somebody’s home,” he said. “Everybody going in has to have a mask and gloves. And they can’t bring their parents, their grandparents, their kids, coming in.  It’s the buyer. The person writing the cheque, or the couple, is the only one allowed to go into the property, along with the agent.

“The agent goes in, turns all the lights on and opens all the doors, so that way the person coming in doesn’t touch anything.  They just walk through the home, and the shorter time, the better.”

As well, prospective buyers are now only allowed to visit one property per day, and have to sign a document declaring they haven’t been out of the province.

“What that does, which I think is good for the business going forward when this is over, is weed out the tire kickers. That’s the whole purpose of having virtual tours, and it’s one of the questions we ask the agent (representing a buyer): is your client pre-approved…has your client watched the virtual tour? And we want a financing letter. If you answer yes to all this and they still want to proceed, then they can book a showing,” Anderson said.

“The big thing now is confirming job security.  Has your income been affected by the pandemic? I’ve had deals fall through because they’ve been fired or laid off.”

“The agent goes in, turns all the lights on and opens all the doors, so that way the person coming in doesn’t touch anything.  They just walk through the home, and the shorter time, the better.”

–  Shane Anderson, Royal LePage’s Pike Group

Anderson himself has remained busy, but home sales and new listings in Nova Scotia have dropped to their lowest levels in at least 25 years.

Residential sales activity recorded through the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors declined 47 per cent in April, as compared to a year ago. The average price of homes sold in April 2020 was $265,981, edging up 3.5 per cent from April 2019.

The picture is a little brighter on Prince Edward Island. Canadian Real Estate Association figures for March show a 4.8 per cent decrease compared to March 2019. In the first three months of 2020, P.E.I. had 327 homes sold, a 10.1 per cent increase compared to the same time period in 2019.

The 150 new residential listings in March 2020 was a 33-per-cent decrease compared to the previous year. The average price of homes sold in March 2020 increased by 19.6 per cent, to $273,206, compared to March 2019. 

Realtors on the island have gone high-tech, too, and it’s already a well-established habit for Michael Poczynek of Century 21 Northumberland Realty.

He was using video technology and analytics as a main way of marketing and selling homes long before the pandemic hit.

“It’s all about leveraging technology and it’s about spending money. We spent probably $2,000 or $3,000 over the last few weeks just experimenting with some stuff we’re doing on Google and on YouTube. But at the end of the day, it paid off because initially we were only getting about 4,400 views (on Youtube) in seven to 10 days. Now we’ve got almost over 20,000 views, spending the same amount of money,” said Poczynek.

Poczynek, who’s been an agent for 21 years, is active on social media and writes a blog. He recently improved the quality of his video productions by investing in cameras with a 360-degree view.

The technology allows potential buyers to see a home and decide if they want to view it in person. The technology, along with analytics, allows Poczynek to sell homes on P.E.I. to off-Island potential buyers “sight unseen.”

“It’s my job as an agent to market P.E.I. to potential buyers. I don’t guess. I don’t think, well, maybe they’re in B.C. (or) Utah. I can see through statistical analysis and the reports that Google and YouTube give us, and keyword tools … where the buyers are coming from,” he said.

That approach has paid off. He’s well-known on the Island for selling a mansion in Cable Head East for $4.75-million, at the time a record amount for the province.

Even with the pandemic, he still shows houses in person, taking the necessary safety precautions. But he has also turned people away from seeing a home in person when he feels they aren’t taking safety precautions seriously.

“My number one concern is the health of my clients,” he said.

No drives and a wipedown

Carol O’Hanley, co-owner of Exit Realty P.E.I. with her husband Steve Yoston, has 26 real estate agents across the province.

She said the first priority of showing homes during COVID-19 is making sure the seller is comfortable with people going through their home. Sometimes that’s not the case, especially when a seller has a medical condition.

If the seller is comfortable with an in-person showing, the agent and potential buyer are required to wear gloves and sanitize any part of the home that has been touched.

An agent and potential buyer can wear masks but O’Hanley said it’s not a requirement.

To maintain physical distancing, agents won’t drive potential buyers to a showing, and after the showing, the seller is instructed to wipe down the home.

Buyers and sellers also have to sign a waiver before an in-person showing to ensure they haven’t been outside the province in the previous 14 days and that they’re not showing signs of COVID-19.

O’Hanley said the P.E.I. real estate market hasn’t seen any drastic differences because of the pandemic, but there may be some changes yet to come. She added that potential buyers can take advantage of lower interest rates, but prices haven’t changed the way they have in other Canadian cities and provinces.

“I think people are under the assumption that prices are going to go down. But personally, and with our company, we haven’t really seen that yet,” she said. “Buyers might have the impression that sellers will take less because of the situation. We’re not finding that.”

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Douglas Todd: China's real-estate investors down on Vancouver, but not out – Vancouver Sun

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Huawei CEO Meng Wenghzou must stay under mansion arrest following this week’s court decision in Vancouver. China’s authorities rage, while continuing to unfairly jail Michael Spavor and Michael Korvig and drastically cut imports of Canadian canola.

Rival ethnic Chinese groups clash in the streets of Vancouver over Beijing’s clampdown on Hong Kongers’ freedoms. COVID-19 kills more than 6,800 across Canada and lockdown virtually ends international travel, sending home many of China’s foreign students, especially from Toronto and Vancouver.

China-Canada relations are at their lowest ebb in decades, particularly according to China’s pervasive regime-backed media outlets, which this week called Canada a “pathetic clown.”

And that has implications for Metro Vancouver’s housing market.

This region of 2.6 million is feeling the impact of soured relations with China, even while polling suggests the city continues to retain some of its traditional allure to the world’s most populous country as a desirable place to experience and invest in.

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Ontario Real Estate Association hands down new guidelines as folks begin looking back into housing market – Barrie 360 – Barrie 360

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While officials are expecting the Canadian housing market to take a real hit because of the COVID pandemic, Ontario realtors are still taking steps to protect those who want to buy or sell a home.

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has issued a series of guidelines to protect the health and safety of not just those in the market to buy or sell, but the realtors doing the deals too.

The OREA says virtual home showings should continue for now

Most home showings have been done virtually since the emergency was declared in Ontario, and the OREA says that should become standard practice for now. Documents, forms, and acknowledgments should be processed electronically according to these guidelines. The OREA asks that physical home showings should be preceded by thoroughly disinfecting surfaces, and a physical distance should be maintained while interacting with clients directly. The OREA asks that personal protective equipment be used when distancing isn’t possible. A complete list of the OREA’s recommendations can be found on its website.

Housing starts, sales, and prices are expected to be impacted by the pandemic through 2022

Now that the Ontario Government has announced a phased reopening, the OREA feels many consumers are looking to get back into the market in person. “The health and safety of our Realtors and their clients is OREA’s top priority during this pandemic,” says Sean Morrison, President of OREA. “As Ontario’s economy reopens, many Ontarians are looking to get back into the real estate market. Realtors are here to help make home buyers and sellers feel comfortable and safe while they work to find their dream home. OREA’s guidelines have been informed by up-to-date information from public health, best practices from the industry and experiences in jurisdictions across North America.”

RELATED: HOUSING MARKET TO BE HIT HARD BY COVID PANDEMIC THROUGH TO THE END OF 2022, ACCORDING TO CMHC HOUSING OUTLOOK

On Wednesday, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a housing market outlook that shows the impacts of COVID-19 will be felt on the industry right through to the end of 2022. Housing starts, sales, and prices within Ontario will be more impacted than some, including B.C. and Quebec, but less than those of oil-dependent Alberta or Saskatchewan.

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Quebecers love the 'burbs, real estate poll suggests – Montreal Gazette

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A survey conducted by the RE/MAX Québec real estate firm suggests that 46 per cent of respondents — particularly those with young children — could see themselves buying a home in the suburbs.

The poll, carried out just as the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak were beginning to be felt across Quebec, found that 28 per cent would like to settle in the city while 21 per cent preferred the country.

Among potential sellers, the Léger poll found 58 per cent would put their homes on the block to move somewhere with more land, while 55 per cent would do so for a larger home.

A large proportion of respondents ages 55-64 would sell in order to move to a less expensive home.

RE/MAX Québec vice-president Sylvain Dansereau said the polling dates were not changed despite the health crisis, adding that a second phase of the survey will be carried out this autumn to measure the effects of the outbreak on the real estate buying and selling preferences of Quebecers.

Quebec’s real estate industry received government authorization to resume operations on May 11.

The poll was conducted March 17-29 with 1,400 respondents in six regions of Quebec and has a 2.6-per-cent margin of error 19 times out of 20.

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