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



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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Calgary retains commercial real estate team to revive new arena – CTV News Calgary



The City of Calgary has recruited three people from the commercial real-estate sector in an effort to get a new event centre to replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome.

CBRE executive vice-president John Fisher, director of strategic initiatives with NAIOP Calgary Guy Huntingford and Ayrshire Group executive chairman Phil Swift have been retained to engage both the city and the and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) to reach a new deal.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the city’s planning and development manager Stuart Dalgleish told committee members the group has already begun their work.

“We are at a stage where our third party is having discussions with both the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and the City of Calgary, with a view to determining whether there is interest in discussions toward a new event centre, and a new deal towards the new event centre,” Dalgleish said.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek is optimistic the team will be able to break the impasse between the city and CSEC.

“Today’s news is good news, and we need to be patient with what comes following this,” she said.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp, who chairs the event centre committee, says naming a third party to assist in negotiations is a big step to seeing a new arena rise from the ashes of the failed deal.

“I’m very satisfied. There’s been a lot of work been put into this to get to where we are today,” she said.  “Everybody wants an event centre built.”

However, sports economist Moshe Lander says it might not be such a great deal for most Calgary taxpayers.

“The issue about who should pay for it is something that goes on in every city, more or less, anytime there’s an arena or stadium discussion,” he said.

“In almost every single case, the public sector blinks first and ends up throwing money at a project that’s not going to recoup its costs.”

“Really, it’s just an issue at this point of how much money does the City of Calgary want to throw at this project, understanding that it’s not going to get it back? How much does it want to sell to the taxpayers that this is what you’re going to be on the hook for, even though the vast majority of residents in the city are not going to use that arena in any capacity?”

CTV reached out to CSEC on Wednesday to ask if the owners still had any interest in reviving the deal. There was no response by publishing deadline.

The original agreement was signed in December 2019. In it, the city and CSEC agreed to split the cost of the $550 million project. When the price tag jumped to over $630 million, the Flames ownership group balked and cancelled the deal. It officially expired New Year’s Eve 2021.

Earlier this month, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with CSEC to discuss the arena, among other topics. At the time, he told reporters he remained hopeful a deal could be struck.

“I’m always optimistic,” said Bettman. “There’s nothing going on right this second to report that would indicate there is going to be a solution immediately, but my hope is that everybody can figure this out.”

Bettman also warned without a new arena or an updated Saddledome, Calgary would miss out on significant NHL events such as All-Star games.

The Saddledome is the second-oldest NHL arena behind only New York’s Madison Square Garden.

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Commercial Real Estate Report (Canada 2022) – RE/MAX Canada – RE/MAX News



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Lydia McNutt

Public Relations & Content Manager | RE/MAX Canada

Lydia McNutt is an award-winning writer, editor and public relations professional, with a focus on all things real estate. At RE/MAX Canada, Lydia translates market data and trends into educational and entertaining content for homebuyers and sellers, while furthering the RE/MAX brand reach, nationally and globally. Explore timely news articles, market trend reports and thought-leadership on Lydia has been published nationally on topics ranging from real estate to architecture, design and decor, finance, business, technology, entertainment and lifestyle topics. Email Lydia at



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Calgary recruits commercial real estate expertise to revive new arena –



CALGARY — The city of Calgary has recruited citizens from the commercial real-estate sector to help get a new event centre and home for the Calgary Flames back on track.

When an agreement between the city and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which owns the Flames, collapsed late last year, city council voted in January to get a third party involved.

John Fisher, Guy Huntingford and Phil Swift are tasked with determining whether the Flames still want to build an arena with the city, or if the city will have to look for other potential partners to build an event centre.

Fisher is executive vice-president of CBRE, Huntingford is director of strategic initiatives with NAIOP Calgary, and Swift is executive chairman of the Ayrshire Group investment firm.

“This team brings considerable expertise from the commercial real-estate industry including experience in larger development,” the city’s planning and development manager Stuart Dalgleish said Wednesday in an event centre committee meeting.

“The third party has spent considerable time understanding the items and interests behind the terminated agreement and the current landscape. These items have become clarified.

“Based on a meeting with both the city and CSEC, the next step is for the third party to make recommendations on a possible path forward.”

Dalgleish said there is no definitive commitment or timeline for a new agreement.

The city and the Flames agreed on an arena deal over two years ago with the initial estimate of $550 million split between the two.

Shovels were scheduled to hit the ground in 2022 for a 19,000-seat arena and concert venue replacing the Saddledome, which has been the home of the Flames for 39 years.

The cost estimate for the project rose to $634 million, however.

Since the two sides agreed to an amended deal last July, the city added an additional $19 million in roadwork and climate mitigation to the project, and wanted the Flames to pay for $10 million of that.

CSEC president John Bean said in December that the Flames were withdrawing from the agreement because of an accumulation of issues and increased financial risk.

“While CSEC was prepared to move forward in the face of escalating construction costs, and assume the unknown future construction cost risk, CSEC was not prepared to fund the infrastructure and climate costs that were introduced by the city following our July agreement … and are not included in the current cost estimate of $634 million,” Bean said then.

So the Flames remain in the Saddledome, which is the second-oldest NHL arena behind New York’s Madison Square Garden.

CSEC also owns the Western Hockey League’s Hitmen, Canadian Football League’s Stampeders and National Lacrosse League’s Roughnecks.

The Flames recently announced they will move their American Hockey League affiliate from Stockton, Calif., to Calgary for the 2022-23 season.

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