Zillow Group announced Monday that it will temporarily pause home buying through its Zillow Offers business in response to stay-at-home directives from various locales related to the coronavirus crisis and uncertainty in the U.S. real estate market.
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The move comes several days after Redfin announced a similar plan, suspending making offers on homes through its RedfinNow business.
Zillow Offers operates in 24 markets. The strategy, which was rolled out a year ago, brought in $603.2 million in revenue in fourth-quarter earnings reported last month. The Seattle-based company sold 1,902 homes and purchased 1,787 homes, ending the quarter with 2,707 homes on its balance sheet. That inventory had been reduced to 1,860 homes as of March 19.
Zillow stock was up about 4 percent in trading on Monday.
“Our top priority is ensuring the safety and health of our employees, customers, and partners,” Zillow Group CEO and co-founder Rich Barton said in a news release. “Given the concerns for public safety and rapid developments by governments that restrict local real estate activities, we determined it was prudent to pause our home buying to preserve our capital.
Zillow plans to restore the Offers business to full operations once health concerns pass, according to Barton.
RELATED: Redfin shares tips for ‘Selling Homes in a Virtual World’ to address COVID-19 real estate concerns
The company will continue to market and sell homes through Zillow Offers, but will temporarily suspend plans to open additional Zillow Offers markets. To protect its customers and partners, open houses for its homes in all markets were suspended last week.
The company is relying on Zillow 3D Home technology to make virtual home tours easier, as well as virtual consultations with Zillow’s local broker and Premier Agent partners.
“Zillow Group is well positioned to navigate these unprecedented times,” Barton said. “We already slowed our pace of acquiring homes over the past month, while our pace of home sales in the quarter accelerated. We have a strong balance sheet and cash position, and are taking proactive steps to reduce spending to offset the important financial support we’re giving our industry partners so we may continue to best serve our mutual customers.”
Real estate pause could hit city budget hard – Toronto Sun
With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak hitting the pause button on Toronto real estate sales, there is concern the crisis may deal a serious blow to the city’s bottom line.
Approved earlier this year, Toronto’s $13.6-billion 2020 budget includes an expected $800 million in revenue from the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) — accounting for 7% of the city’s operating funding.
The budget already included a $77-million hole expected to be filled by federal funding commitments to pay for the housing of refugees — commitments made long before coronavirus made worldwide headlines and paralyzed economies across the globe.
Relying on MLTT can be a risky venture for cities — in 2018 lower-than-expected real estate numbers produced a $84.5 million hole in the city’s budget, according to briefing notes.
With land sales in the city frozen due to COVID-19, MLTT revenue is expected to fall to levels far below that.
While requests to the city for year-to-date MLTT revenue numbers went unreturned, a statement from the Mayor’s office said the impact of the outbreak on city coffers won’t be known for some time.
“Mayor Tory and City of Toronto staff are working to make sure we do everything possible as a municipal government to help Toronto residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and after the crisis is over,” read an emailed statement.
“We know there will be an economic and financial impact on the City itself and our finance officials are working right now to understand how big that impact will be over the coming months.”
The TTC alone, said the statement, is losing about $20-million per week in revenue — one of many financial hits the emergency is dealing upon Toronto.
The TTC alone is losing revenue in the amount of roughly $20 million a week and that is just one of the financial hits the City is experiencing as a result of the ongoing emergency.
“Right now, our focus is on stopping the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to deliver essential and critical services and working with the other governments to rebuild the economy as quickly as possible.”
Video: Homeless man hosed down in front of Gastown commercial real estate office – Straight.com
Some Vancouver residents have expressed outrage over social media in connection with how a homeless person was treated in Gastown.
Video on social media shows a person spraying a garden hose to remove the man from the front door of 305 Gore Street.
The real estate office is part of an 11-storey mixed-use condo complex called The Edge, which was developed in 1999 at 289 Alexander Street.
One of those who tweeted about the incident was Harsha Walia, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
She described the use of the hose as “despicable anti-homeless violence”.
(Warning: the video includes swearing.)
It’s increasingly difficult for the homeless to find a place to rest in Vancouver as a result of the closure of libraries and most community centres, as well as the conversion of fast-food outlets and other restaurants to takeout joints.
For more on that, check out the tweets below by homeless resident and Straight contributor Stanley Q. Woodvine.
Real estate publisher lets 70 go, blames coronavirus impact – Toronto Star
Key Media, the Toronto-based publisher of trade magazines Canadian Mortgage Professional and Canadian Real Estate Wealth, has cut more than a third of its global workforce amidst the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week, the publishing and conference company issued severance notices to 70 people, in offices as widespread as Canada, the U.S., U.K., Singapore and Australia.
Before the wave of cuts, the company employed almost 200 people in eight offices
One employee who received a severance notice said they’d been told by a Key executive that the biggest reason for the cuts was that the company’s conference business had dried up almost all at once, because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The current economic climate has had a huge effect on the company’s revenues, and we have forecast a significant negative impact on the company’s bottom line for 2020. This means that unfortunately, we are no longer able to continue your employment,” the severance notice stated.
Email and Skype messages to company CEO Mike Shipley, who lives in Antigua, weren’t immediately returned.
Key Media publishes 130 trade magazines devoted to real estate, mortgages and insurance. It also runs 70 annual conferences and trade shows.
Earlier this week, Saltwire Media, Atlantic Canada’s largest newspaper chain, laid of 40 per cent of its staff and shut down all of its weekly papers for at least 12 weeks, citing a plunge in advertising in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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