couple-programs-770.png
April 6, 2020

COVID-19 relief programs for home owners and renters

The federal and provincial governments are providing emergency aid for individuals to help you weather the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

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April 2, 2020

How the rental freeze, eviction ban could affect you

The provincial government brought a new Rental Tenancy Order into effect, restricting rent increases and evictions during COVID-19.  

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April 2, 2020

Home buyers and sellers adjust plans amid changing times

Metro Vancouver’s housing market saw steady demand to begin March, and a levelling of activity near the end as concerns about COVID-19 intensified.

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March 26, 2020

Provincial government lists REALTORS® as essential service

Find out what this means to you as a home buyer or seller.

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March 24, 2020

Facts about the strata contingency reserve fund

When looking for a strata property, the contingency reserve fund is an important item to check out.

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March 19, 2020

REBGV strongly recommends REALTORS® not hold open houses

With concerns about the spread of COVID-19, REBGV strongly recommends its approximately 14,000 REALTOR® members refrain from holding Open Houses.

Pay property taxes-770.jpg
March 19, 2020

Why do I have to pay property taxes on the home I’m buying?

Depending on the time of year you buy a home, you may have to pay the seller's property taxes.

economists-covid-770.jpg
March 18, 2020

How will COVID-19 affect the housing market?

Economists and elected leaders agree that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause economic activity to slow, which will likely impact the housing market.

covid-19_alt_770.jpg
March 18, 2020

How to navigate housing market given COVID-19 concerns

Should you buy or sell a home in today's environment, or wait until things improve?

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March 17, 2020

Grants to improve accessibility and safety of homes

Low-income seniors and persons with disabilities may be eligible for home accessibility grants funded by the federal and provincial governments.

strata pets-770.jpg
March 12, 2020

Stratas and pets

If you’re planning to buy a strata property and you have furry or feathered friends, find out whether pets are allowed or if there are restrictions.

Outside cleaning-770.jpg
March 10, 2020

How to prepare your home for sale

When your home is in tip-top condition, it generally has a better chance of selling a little faster.

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PENTHOUSES   |   TOWNHOUSES   |   LOFTS   |   LAND ASSEMBLIES

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Coronavirus
 
Follow the latest COVID-19 updates in one place
 

Everything you need to know about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

 

Apr 2 2020, 4:18 pm
 

Canada’s federal government has directed $24 billion toward a new benefit that gives money straight to citizens who’ve lost employment because of COVID-19.

 

It’s called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and pays up to $2,000 per month for four months. There are looser restrictions to apply for it compared to Employment Insurance (EI), which is the standard route for laid-off workers to receive government assistance.

Applications for the CERB open on April 6 at canada.ca/coronavirus.

 

Should I apply for EI or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canadians can either collect EI or the CERB, not both.

CanadianPM
 
@CanadianPM
 
 

Starting on April 6, Canadians impacted by will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Learn more ⬇️ http://ow.ly/wvKM50z2JvF 

 
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EI can pay slightly more than the CERB, but only if your income was fairly high to begin with. EI pays 55% of the average wage you earned in the last year before applying, and maxes out at $573 per week ($2,292 per month).

The CERB pays slightly less than the maximum EI amount, giving out $500 per week ($2,000 per month).

If you’re eligible for EI (which is stricter than the CERB), and 55% of your earnings works out to more than $500 per week, EI is your best bet.

 

Otherwise, the CERB is best for you.

According to Quebec MP Jean-Yves Duclos, people who applied for EI after March 15 do not need to apply for the CERB. Their EI application will be directly transferred to the CERB program.

Jean-Yves Duclos
 
@jyduclos
 
 

If you applied for Employment Insurance after March 15th, you do not need to apply to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit. Your EI application will automatically be transferred to the CERB program.

 
267 people are talking about this
 
 


Who is eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit? 

Workers who live in Canada and are 15 years old or older are eligible to apply. They must also meet the following criteria:

 
  • Made more than $5,000 in 2019
  • Are out of work due to COVID-19

The benefit was designed to help people not normally eligible for EI, such as workers who don’t have access to paid sick leave or other income support and self-employed people.

People who have to stop working because they’re sick or quarantined are eligible, and so are people who can’t work because they need to take care of a sick child.

The benefit is also available to people who remain employed but aren’t being paid because they’ve been told not to come to work.

How do I apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Applications open on April 6, and you can apply through Service Canada if you have an account there from setting up EI in the past, or you can apply through the Canada Revenue Agency.

 

Applicants will be asked a serious of questions in a streamlined application process, according to the government’s backgrounder.

There’s also a dedicated toll-free line for applicants with CERB questions: 1-800-959-2019.

The benefit is available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020. You must apply by December 2, 2020 to receive it.

Similar to EI, you must log back in periodically to tell the government whether you’re still unemployed.

 

When will I get the money?

Once applications open on April 6, the government says Canadians should receive direct deposit payments within five business days and should receive cheques within 10 business days.

“We are working to ensure every Canadian gets the money they need as quickly as possible,” Duclos said in a news release.

 
 
 
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COVID-19 will take time to be felt in Metro Vancouver real estate market

Health crisis threatens to bite highly leveraged mom-and-pop investors, experts say

 

Sutton West Coast Realty broker David Hutchinson is one of many local property brokers who expect Metro Vancouver home sales to start falling | Rob Kruyt

Real estate brokers, analysts and investors are bracing for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what could be a rough ride for residential real estate in Metro Vancouver throughout the rest of 2020.

While overall sales in March were up 46.1% compared with March 2019, that apparent strong performance needs to be put in context. March 2019 was an extraordinarily bad month for home sales as it had the lowest total number of home sales during March since 1986 and was 46.3% below the previous 10-year March sales average.

Insiders also point out that there is a lag in recording sales. Most home sales take several weeks to close, meaning that a good chunk of the March sales would have been agreed to before mid-March, when governments started incrementally instituting restrictions on travel, entertainment and social gatherings.

The consensus is that the first reliable litmus test for the strength of home sales will be in be in April, and everyone Business in Vancouver spoke with said that home sales will fall as a result of fewer people looking at homes during the early weeks of being ordered to distance themselves from others.

 

This is despite the Bank of Canada cutting its benchmark interest rate to a record low 0.25%.

Some buyers may aim to get out of purchase agreements signed in February and March, but Sutton Group West Coast Realty broker David Hutchinson told BIV that courts are unlikely to be accommodating.

B.C. has no force majeure provision in its sales agreements, meaning that buyers cannot argue that unforeseen circumstances related to the pandemic merit cancelling the contract.

“The deposit will be in the respective realtor’s trust account,” he said. “It’s security for the purchase. If they don’t follow through, the deposit would go to the seller.”

That seller, he added, may also take the buyer to court for breaking the contract and sue for any difference in price if the home is later sold for less than the originally agreed sale price.

Hutchinson said that the number of home-sale transactions will fall in part because unemployment has spiked and banks tend not to provide mortgages to people who are not working.

“You might have a very motivated buyer, but they’ll have no purchasing power,” he said.

Real estate agent, analyst and blogger Steve Saretsky agreed. He suggested that many mortgages provided in recent months were likely to people now unemployed and struggling to keep their heads above water.

“Foreclosures will move higher, for sure,” he said. “It’s a bit of a mess, but I don’t think we’ll see a lot of this filter into the market for another three to six months.”

An additional challenge for those aiming to sell their homes is that mom-and-pop investors who have investment properties might be forced to put those units on the market, Saretsky said.

City of Vancouver bylaws forbid anyone from putting a secondary home on short-term rental websites, but Saretsky believes many people have evaded these restrictions. Those previously Airbnb-listed homes would then compete with other properties for buyers or renters, potentially driving prices down.

“Vancouver has been a really good real estate market for 20-some-odd years, and people were extrapolating recent performance and were obviously more OK with negative cash flow in condos.”

Saretsky added that owners who had been relying on their second home to increase in value and were willing to pay strata fees, taxes and mortgage payments that left them cash-flow negative are likely to reassess their investment.

Their predicament is why Real Estate Investment Network senior adviser Don Campbell has long made it a mantra for his network’s members to buy an investment property only when it can be cash-flow positive.

Campbell told BIV that the COVID-19-prompted economic shock is likely to have a “psychological effect” on investors that is as significant as any economic hit that they endure.

He envisions highly leveraged mom-and-pop investor couples having some serious conversations.

“They’ll say, ‘We’ve been living on the edge forever. We might want to reassess what we’re doing,’“ Campbell said.

“This is early days here, but we’ve got an ugly four weeks coming up.”

Campbell acknowledged that the situation is changing so rapidly that predictions can be overtaken by events almost immediately, but he is convinced that a trend toward deleveraging is likely to happen because of this economic shock.

“It will happen slowly because a lot of people are locked into five-year mortgages,” he said. “All real estate trends – actual trends, as opposed to reactions – have a long tail to them. They take a while to hit into the market.” •

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

 
 

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Real estate sales expected to dive

Ross McLaughlin 2018

Ross McLaughlinConsumer Reporter, CTV News Vancouver

@ctvmcLaughlin  Contact

Espe CurrieAssociate news producer, McLaughlin On Your Side

@EspeCurrie Contact

Published Tuesday, March 31, 2020 3:05PM PDTLast Updated Tuesday, March 31, 2020 7:38PM PDT
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Home sales are predicted to spiral downward this year as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but what does that mean for prices and affordability?
 
 

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Buying and selling real estate involves a lot of personal interaction, but COVID-19 has put a stop to that. There are no more open houses, property owners don’t want strangers in their homes and buyers aren’t out and about viewing listings.

A new RBC economic report says the pandemic is a temporary blow to Canada’s housing market. The report projects housing sales across the country will dive by nearly 30 per cent this year to a 20-year low.

The chief economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association, Brendon Ogmundson, had released his own predictions a couple of weeks ago and isn’t too surprised by what’s in the RBC forecast.

“We're expecting a recession. We're expecting at least a one or two month real stoppage of activity, and for the housing market that means not a lot of face-to-face interactions, (and) probably not a lot of sales the next few months," Ogmundson said.

According to RBC, property prices are expected to fall briefly in the second half of this year by about 3 per cent. However, affordability in the Vancouver area still remains a problem. While the pre-tax median household income to housing costs ratio has fallen about six percentage points in the region in the past year, it’s still the highest in Canada at 80.4 per cent.

Ogmundson doesn’t expect a lot of change in housing prices in the Vancouver area because both supply and demand have fallen off.

The housing forecast from RBC is also predicting that once the crisis has ended, there could be a 40 per cent surge in real estate sales next year.

"All that demand is really still there. We just need to get past this current kind of unusual situation," Ogmundson said, "A lot of those jobs hopefully will be coming back and we'll be coming back into very low interest rates and a lot of pent up demand. We should see a pretty big bounce back once this does end."

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The department led by Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne, seen here on Jan. 11, 2020, announced that since Feb. 4, 'Canada has deployed approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as clothing, face shields, masks, goggles and gloves' to China.

DAVE CHAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Canada’s department of Global Affairs shipped 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment to China last month to help Beijing fight the novel coronavirus, an effort that it undertook even after the World Health Organization had warned countries to prepare for possible cases.

Critics are questioning the wisdom of exporting gear overseas just weeks before it was sorely needed in Canada. The Canadian government, however, says the shipment was an effort to collaborate with China in the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

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On Feb. 9, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s department announced that since Feb. 4, “Canada has deployed approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as clothing, face shields, masks, goggles and gloves” to China.

The Asian country was already deep into its own fight against COVID-19 by this point. “Our deepest thoughts are with all those affected by this outbreak," Mr. Champagne noted in a statement announcing the gift. International Development Minister Karina Gould said in the same statement that “personal protective equipment is essential to prevent and limit the spread of the virus.”

The WHO on Jan. 30 had already declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern" and said “it is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country.”

 

The UN agency had warned that “all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management.” By Feb. 7, the WHO also predicted “severe coronavirus-related disruptions” in supply of personal protective equipment.

 

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Amir Attaran, a professor at University of Ottawa’s school of epidemiology and public health and its faculty of law, said he was surprised to learn Global Affairs shipped personal protective equipment (PPE) to China.

“It was absolutely certain in early February that we would need this equipment,” he said. "This decision went beyond altruism into high negligence and incompetence because Canada did not, and does not, have surplus equipment to spare.”

Some of the very equipment Global Affairs shipped to China is in high demand in Canada, from masks to other protective gear.

Adam Austen, deputy director of communications for Mr. Champagne, said Canada’s shipment to China was an effort to co-operate in the fight against the virus.

 

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Personal protective equipment is stored as Canadian Forces Base Trenton prepares for the arrival under quarantine of Canadians evacuated from China due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, in Trenton, Ontario, Canada February 6, 2020.

ALEX FILIPE/REUTERS

“Global pandemics require global co-operation. After all, pandemics know no borders. Co-operation is vital to ensuring the health and safety of people around the world. This includes protecting people here in Canada, as support of this kind can help to slow the spread of the virus,” Mr. Austen said.

“In early February, when the spread of COVID-19 was primarily limited to China, Canada facilitated sending equipment there through the Canadian Red Cross to the Red Cross Society of China.”

He noted Chinese companies are now donating supplies to Canada, too. “As more Canadians have become affected by the spread of this virus, we have welcomed donations from Chinese companies, including CTrip. Canada will continue to work to ensure that we have the equipment we need to fight this virus – and that our partners do, too.”

The goods Canada sent to China included 50,118 face shields, 1,101 masks, 1,820 pairs of goggles, 36,425 medical coveralls, 200,000 nitrile gloves and 3,000 aprons. The supplies were sourced by the Canadian Red Cross as well from as the government of Canada’s supplies.

It’s uncertain yet whether the Chinese government will make a similar donation of medical equipment to Canada in return. The Globe and Mail asked the Chinese embassy in Canada on Tuesday whether Beijing planned to send masks, medical ventilators or COVID-19 test kits to Canada but did not receive a response.

A healthcare professional adjusts her mask during a demonstration of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procedures at Toronto Western Hospital on October 17, 2014.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Jack Lindsay, chair of applied disaster and emergency studies at Brandon University in Manitoba, said the federal government’s emergency planning has long been plagued by a lack of co-ordination.

 

“Emergency management tends to get left to [the department of] Public Safety and other departments don’t really worry about emergency management until something happens,” he said.

He said the federal government lacks a specialized agency that is solely dedicated to emergency management. While Public Safety is ostensibly responsible for this, it’s much more focused on other responsibilities such as the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Parole Board.

He said this Global Affairs shipment “probably happened without anybody saying, ‘Hey, could we ever use this stuff ourselves?' "

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis said shipping medical gear out of the country as the coronavirus threat was growing in Canada makes no sense.

Separately, Mark Agnew, senior director of international policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the organization’s members are increasingly worried about restrictions that other countries are placing on exports of medical supplies.

“We’re quite concerned about the export restrictions that are popping up around the world,” he said.

 

He noted the European Union as of March 15 has put in new rules requiring authorization for export of PPE, and India has banned the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients used to make medicine.

A study released by Global Trade Alert, an independent organization that monitors policies affecting world trade, said as of March 21 that 54 governments around the world had restrictions on the export of medical supplies since the beginning of the year.

The spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continues, with more cases diagnosed in Canada. The Globe offers the dos and don'ts to help slow or stop the spread of the virus in your community.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

 
 

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B.C. real estate market frozen over COVID-19 uncertainty

VANCOUVER, BC, Royale Rental Apartments,1848 W 3rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia To support people and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Province is introducing a new temporary rental supplement, halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions.........................(Photo credit: Francis Georgian / Postmedia) , Vancouver. VancouverReporter: ,  ( Francis Georgian   /  PNG staff [PNG Merlin Archive]Royale Rental Apartments at 1848 West 3rd Ave. in Vancouver on March 25. To support people during the COVID-19 crisis the B.C. government has introduced a temporary rental supplement and halted evictions. FRANCIS GEORGIAN / PNG

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The local real estate market is mostly frozen as fears about the spread of COVID-19 have halted most home showings and there is uncertainty in the market for buyers and sellers.

The list of causes for this uncertainty is long, from personal health well-being to job security to newly announced policies such as the B.C. government’s ban on rental evictions, according to real estate agents.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said Wednesday that a temporary renters’ supplement of $500 a month will be paid to landlords and that it should be used by renters who have seen a drop in their work hours or layoff notices.

This will help renters who have lost jobs and wages, but it will also squeeze some mom-and-pop investors, said Vancouver real estate agent Steve Saretsky.

Saretsky is worried that the ban on evicting tenants might “green-light renters into thinking, ‘I don’t have to bother paying.’

“To me, it’ll be a bit of relying on the honour system,” he said.

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Saretsky thinks small, individual landlords will have trouble making their mortgage payments if rent payments, even with the government supplement, are forced to be smaller.

Meanwhile, since earlier this week, there is no longer an option on the Multiple Listing Service to register an open house, so Vancouver real estate agent Justin Smith has been offering quick walkabouts via his Instagram live video. He’s offering it as an option and there have been times in the past when sales were easily sealed with a video tour, but “not right now.”

“No one is eager to buy. They (buyers) just are seeing what comes of it,” Smith said.

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In recent weeks “there had been a small bounce in sentiment (in sales), depending on how you were priced and what you offered,” said Smith, but word of sales that have closed this week are being seen as the last for a while.

On the flip side, Saretsky said there are still some private showings that are happening, even though most real estate agents aren’t doing them to cut down on social interactions that could spread COVID-19.

The ones that are still happening, he said, come as real estate agents are being pressured by sellers to meet with potential buyers. He explained that as these sellers see a fast-closing window for getting out of the market they’re telling agents that if they don’t show a property, then they’ll take it to another agent.

jlee-young@postmedia.com

 
 

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Top-Tier Real Estate Sales Surge in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal Reflects Solid Market Foundation as Canada Confronts Coronavirus

 

Source: Sotheby's International Realty Canada
 
 

Toronto, Ontario, March 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Despite conditions of extreme uncertainty in public health and the economy due to the unprecedented global coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis, new top-tier real estate market data reveals that the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver and Montreal real estate markets are confronting a period of turmoil from a strong foundation.

The latest data compiled by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada reveal that Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residential real estate sales over $1 million more than doubled in the first two months of the year, soaring 107% year-over-year in January and February, while luxury sales over $4 million surged 75% during this time.  Bold gains were experienced across every housing type despite limited inventory, as $1 million-plus condominium, attached home and single family home sales climbed 117%, 52% and 115% respectively. Luxury condominium and single family home sales also rose significantly: six condominiums sold over $4 million in the first two months of the year compared to one during this period in 2019; while single family home sales over $4 million climbed 71%. Preliminary sales data for the first fifteen days of March also underscored the GTA’s strong foundation, as overall $1 million-plus and $4 million-plus sales increased 94% and 56% respectively.  

Vancouver’s top-tier real estate market rebounded in the first two months of the year, reflective of solidifying market fundamentals. Pent-up demand ignited $1 million-plus sales activity across the condominium, attached home and single family home markets, which surged 65%, 109% and 79% year-over-year. This resulted in an overall 80% increase in residential sales over $1 million in January and February, while luxury sales over $4 million surged 78%. $1 million-plus sales pulled back 19% year-over-year in the first 15 days of March.

Top-tier real estate sales over $1 million in Montreal rose 68% year-over-year in the first two months of 2020, while sales over $4 million rose 50%. The upswing in activity was experienced across all housing types, as condominium, attached home and single family sales over $1 million increased 92%, 63% and 60% respectively. In the first 15 days of March, sales over $1 million increased a more modest 15% from the same period in 2019.

Despite the heavy toll of steeply falling oil prices, real estate consumer anxiety, and a deeply entrenched buyers’ market, $1 million-plus sales in Calgary contracted a mild 8% year-over-year in the first two months of 2020. In the first two weeks of March, Calgary experienced a 5% year-over-year uptick in sales over $1 million, however, the city remains vulnerable to broader forces shadowing the market.

“Canadians are confronting unprecedented and historic times, and concerns for our collective health, economic prosperity and personal finances are running high. In spite of these monumental global forces, the most recent conventional and luxury real estate market data reveals that many of our country’s key markets are facing this turbulence from a solid foundation,” says Don Kottick, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “The Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal real estate markets experienced bold gains in the first months of 2020.  A shortage of listings inventory, pent-up consumer demand, and regional economic fundamentals position these markets for resilience in the months ahead. Furthermore, historically favourable mortgage lending conditions and extreme stock market volatility make Canadian real estate a desirable and secure investment. While uncertainty lies ahead, housing will remain essential, activity will continue and the long-term prospects for Canadian real estate are solid.”

According to Kottick, while Calgary’s real estate market remains vulnerable, real estate sellers across all Canadian markets require new strategies when marketing their home this spring, with digital advertising, videography, virtual reality tours and global marketing more important than in years past.

Key Influences
                                                                                                           
Domestic Resilience Meets Global Headwinds
COVID-19 represents a grave and substantial threat to Canadian public health, trade, economic performance and business and consumer confidence in the coming months, the impact and duration of which are unknown. With a longstanding global reputation for overall stability and security the country is poised to confront unprecedented headwinds from a position of relative resilience. 

Prior to the unforeseen emergence of COVID-19, modest but steady gains were anticipated for the Canadian economy at the start of the year, with institutions such as the Conference Board of Canada forecasting growth rates in the range of 1.8%.  Quebec’s economic growth, which has seen annual gains averaging 2.6% since 2017, was anticipated to continue on a growth trajectory in 2020, while Ontario’s real GDP was forecast to increase 1.8%.  British Columbia was projected to post a strong 3.1% gain. In spite of challenging conditions, it was anticipated that Alberta would emerge from the previous year’s recession over the course of 2020. 

At the start of the year, key indicators suggested that the Canadian economy had been operating close to capacity; labour markets in most regions showed little slack and wages continued to firm. By February, Canada’s unemployment rate hovered at 5.6% as employment increased by 30,000 jobs, a nominal 0.2% gain. During this time, Montreal and Toronto’s unemployment rate fell below the national average at 5.5% and 5.4% respectively, while Vancouver’s unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, the lowest of the country’s largest metropolitan areas. At 7.4%, Calgary’s unemployment rate was virtually unchanged year-over-year in February. 

Canada’s overall economic resilience was reflected in a significant surge in conventional and luxury real estate sales activity in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in the first two months of 2020; these fundamentals are now key to stabilizing top-tier real estate market performance in times of turbulence. In contrast, the steepest global oil price decline in decades has rendered Calgary’s economy and top-tier real estate market more vulnerable. 

Top-Tier Real Estate Shortage, Pent-Up Demand to Support Market Absorption Rate
A shortage of conventional and luxury property listings, compounded by surging consumer demand incited multiple offers and price escalation across three of Canada’s key metropolitan top-tier markets in the initial months of the year.

In Montreal, an unprecedented 28% year-over-year drop in overall residential real estate supply in January marked the most significant annual decline for the month in two decades, as well as the region’s 52nd consecutive month of falling supply.  At the same time the total inventory of homes for sale fell short of keeping pace with strong sales gains in both Toronto and Vancouver.  The overall scarcity of listings across the condominium, attached and single family home sectors was most acute in the market for housing under $2 million, but also permeated the luxury market, where a shortfall of supply in the cities’ premier neighbourhoods was met with robust demand that saw sales of $4 million-plus residential real estate rise 50%, 75% and 78% year-over-year in the first two months of 2020 in the City of Montreal, the Greater Toronto Area and the City of Vancouver respectively. 

While it is anticipated that there may be a contingent of real estate sellers and buyers that may hesitate to transact in the current market, these underlying fundamentals support absorption of new listings supply through the spring, as well as a rebound once market disruption is fully resolved. 

Mortgage Lending Environment to Stimulate Top-Tier Market Activity
Dramatic shifts in the mortgage lending environment in the preliminary months of 2020 are expected to stimulate conventional and luxury real estate activity this spring in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. These factors will also provide a measure of support to Calgary, as the city braces for the local economic impact of falling global oil markets and growing concerns of a provincial recession.

Prompted by concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak will have negative economic consequences, the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee lowered its target range for the federal funds rate to 1.00–1.25% on March 3, and then again to 0.00– 0.25% on March 15. Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada which dropped its target overnight rate to 1.25% on March 4, reduced it to 0.75% on March 13.  The ensuing drop in mortgage rates not only has a positive impact on the purchasing power of home buyers and real estate investors, but also positions conventional and luxury real estate as more favourable assets by lowering carrying costs and improving potential returns.  

At the same time, the loosening of Canadian federal mortgage financing rules previously implemented to deter rapid housing price gains and debt growth come into effect on April 6, 2020. The pending changes to the mortgage stress test will update the benchmark rate utilized to determine the minimum qualifying rate for insured mortgages to the weekly median five-year fixed insured mortgage rate from mortgage insurance applications, plus 2%. The announcement of these changes in February 2020 quickly bolstered real estate consumer confidence and is anticipated to encourage the entry of some home buyers sidelined by the previous stress test. 

Financial Market Turmoil Reinforces Real Estate Demand
In 2019, the endurance of a 10-year market bull room as well as significant volatility in major global stock indices towards the end of the year, prompted consumer and investor confidence to shift in favour of Canadian top-tier real estate.  According to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada experts, there was a notable increase in affluent real estate consumers utilizing top-tier real estate to diversify asset portfolios, buffer against inflation, and protect against stock market volatility. 

In light of COVID-19, sharp declines across all major indices has amplified consumer anxiety towards the financial market and increased interest in Canadian real estate. Strategies utilized by stock market-wary real estate consumers include allocating more funds towards a primary home purchase, investing in rental and vacation properties, and in the case of  baby boomers and older adults, reinvesting in real estate following the sale of their primary home, rather than cashing out and investing the proceeds into tumultuous financial markets.

Vancouver
Gains in top-tier real estate sales in the first two months of 2020 underscored solidifying market fundamentals in the City of Vancouver as it faces new challenges in light of COVID-19. 

In the preliminary months of the year, building consumer demand for top-tier real estate surged into the market as home buyers and sellers who had remained on the sidelines due to previous years’ uncertainty enacted their return. With inventory limited, the lift in qualified sales activity led to active open houses, an upswing in property enquiries, as well as the return of bidding wars for condominiums, attached and single family homes, particularly for properties under $2 million. As a result, the composite benchmark price for all residential properties increased 1.4% year-over-year in Vancouver East and 3.5% in Vancouver West in February 2020.

Overall, $1 million-plus residential real estate sales (condominiums, attached and single-family homes) saw a significant 80% increase in the first two months of 2020 to 501 properties sold. Sales between $1–2 million rose 83% to 346 units sold, while $2–4 million sales increased 71% to 123 properties sold. Pent-up demand from local buyers also spilled into the luxury segment as sales of $4 million-plus properties increased 78% to 32 units sold in the first two months of the year following muted activity in 2019. Initial data from the first 15 days of March revealed that sales over $1 million dipped 19% from 116 properties sold during this period in 2019, to 94 properties sold in 2020. Four properties sold over $4 million in the first 15 days of March, compared to six sold during this time in 2019.

Vancouver’s resilient condo market saw increased traffic and elevated top-tier sales activity. Sales over $1 million surged 65% year-over-year in the first two months of 2020 to 142 units sold. January and February sales of condominiums between $1–2 million saw a 75% increase to 121 units sold while the $2–4 million segment of the market experienced a 6% gain. Four luxury condominiums sold over $4 million compared to one during the first two months of 2019. Preliminary data for the first fifteen days of March saw sales over $1 million decrease 46% to 20 units sold; as in the case of 2019, there were no transactions over $4 million during this time.

The city’s $1 million-plus attached home market remained strong in the first two months of the year, more than doubling with an overall 109% year-over-year increase to 98 homes sold. The $1–2 million segment of the market experienced a 137% surge to 90 homes sold. Attached home sales between $2–4 million were consistent with 2019 levels with eight units sold in the first two months of 2020, due primarily to the lack of inventory available in face of demand. In the same time period, there were no sales of attached homes over $4 million, compared to one home sold during this period in 2019. In the first fifteen days of March, 16 attached homes sold over $1 million compared to 17 units during the same period in 2019.

In the first two months of the year, sales of single family homes over $1 million rebounded 79% from 2019 levels to 261 homes sold. Single family home sales in the $1–2 million and $2–4 million segments of the market saw strong year-over-year gains of 65% and 104% respectively to 135 and 98 homes sold. Luxury $4 million-plus sales experienced a promising 75% year-over-year rise in sales in the first two months of 2020 to 28 homes sold. 58 homes sold over $1 million between March 1–15 compared to 62 homes sold during this period in 2019, a nominal 6% dip. Meanwhile, four homes sold over $4 million in the first 15 days of the month, compared to five in the first 15 days of March 2019.

Vancouver’s recent surge in top-tier real estate sales reflects the fact that demand in the city’s market had not dissipated during previous years’ pullback, but had simply remained dormant. As one of the world’s most coveted regions in terms of livability, the city is positioned to see continued activity through the spring and to regain significant momentum once the disruption passes.

Calgary
Definitive buyers' market conditions are expected for the City of Calgary’s top-tier real estate market in spring 2020 as the provincial economy confronts the monumental challenges of falling oil prices and the COVID-19 crisis. While overall residential sales were up 23% year-over-year in February, activity in the top-tier market was subdued in the preliminary months of 2020, reflecting rising consumer anxiety in face of ongoing economic challenges. The overall benchmark price contracted 1% year-over-year to $416,900 in February.  

Sales of $1 million-plus residential real estate (condominiums, attached homes, and single family homes) contracted 8% in the first two months of 2020 to 57 properties sold compared to 62 units sold during the same period in 2019. Of these, 50 properties sold between $1–2 million, down 2% from 51 units sold in January and February of 2019,  while seven units sold between $2–4 million, a 30% decline from ten units sold in the previous year.  There were no transactions over $4 million compared to one unit sold in the first two months of 2019.  In the first fifteen days of March, sales over $1 million were up a marginal 5% to 22 units sold year-over-year.

It is expected that Calgary’s top-tier condominium market will continue to see challenges into the spring as oversupply remains the narrative. One condominium sold over $1 million in the first two months of 2020 compared to three units that sold in the same period in 2019.  $1 million-plus sales remained quiet between March 1–15, as was the case during the same period of 2019.

Attached home sales over $1 million experienced a 43% decrease in the first two months of 2020 to four homes sold, while sales over $1 million were quiet in the first fifteen days of March compared to the single attached home sold during the same period last year.

The majority of top-tier activity was seen in the single family home market, with sales in this segment comprising over 90% of Calgary’s overall top-tier market activity in the first two months of the year. Single family home sales over $1 million remained stable from 2019 levels, with 52 homes sold in the first two months of 2020 and the same period the year prior. There were no transactions over $4 million in the first two months of the year, or the first half of March.

Prior to the drop in oil prices and the onset of COVID-19, the conventional and top-tier real estate market was expected to stabilize in 2020 given favourable mortgage lending conditions and retreating levels of inventory. This spring, Calgary is vulnerable to challenging and unforeseen macro-economic forces that will further delay the city’s recovery. For prospective home sellers, strategic pricing and comprehensive marketing will be a requirement for maximizing the potential of a property sale.

Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
As Canada’s largest real estate market braves economic and public health challenges in light of COVID-19, it does so from solid footing. Uniquely positioned as the country’s economic epicentre as well as its leading destination for immigration, migration, and global investment interest, the region and its top-tier real estate market are expected to remain resilient in the long-term, with any pullbacks in spring activity to be temporary.

The Greater Toronto Area’s (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) top-tier real estate market was poised for significant gains this spring prior to the emergence of COVID-19. Consumer confidence was fully restored and sales activity was anticipated to surpass spring 2019 levels. Preliminary data from the first two months of 2020 reflected a market that had recovered from uncertainty in years prior, with industry experts reporting pent-up demand in certain segments of the top-tier market and a sharp shortfall in available inventory in relation.

Across the conventional real estate market, rising consumer demand was met by insufficient supply, igniting a fresh wave of bidding wars.  The composite benchmark price for all residential properties rose 10.2% year-over-year.

The GTA’s $1 million-plus residential real estate market (condominiums, attached and single family homes) saw sales in the first two months of 2020 more than double from 2019 levels, rising 107% year-over-year to 3,106 units sold. Sales between $1–2 million and $2–4 million experienced 106% and 120% increases year-over-year respectively to 2,673 and 398 properties sold. Luxury $4 million-plus sales activity increased by 75% to 35 properties sold, reflecting boldly rebounding demand across the GTA, both in and outside of the city core. Within the first fifteen days of March, sales over $1 million and $4 million experienced a year-over-year 94% and 56% increase to 1,256 and 14 units sold respectively.

The City of Toronto’s top-tier real estate market also reflected renewed demand within the first two months of 2020. Sales over $1 million (condominiums, attached and single family homes) continued on a positive trajectory with a 79% increase year-over-year to 1,232 properties sold in the first two months of 2020. Sales between $1–2 million rose 66% to 939 units sold, while sales between $2–4 million saw 148% growth to 268 units sold. Sales in the luxury $4 million-plus segment increased by 47% to 25 units sold within the first two months of the year. Over the first fifteen days in March, sales over $1 million and $4 million experienced 76% and 57% annual gains to 501 and 11 properties sold respectively.

Strong, underlying demand is projected to persist in the $1 million-plus condominium market in the GTA, following a strong start to 2020 that saw top-tier condominium sales increase steeply from 2019 levels. In the first two months of the year, condo sales over $1 million rose 117% year-over-year to 314 units sold in the GTA, and 112% to 284 units sold in the City of Toronto. During this time, sales surged in the GTA’s luxury $4 million-plus market to six condominiums sold compared to one sold in 2019.

This upswing in condo activity continued into the first fifteen days of March, as GTA sales over $1 million rose 46% to 82 units sold; one condominium sold over $4 million during this time while none had sold in the same period in 2019. During this time, $1 million-plus condo sales in the City of Toronto increased 70% to 75 units sold, while one unit sold over $4 million, up from zero sold in the first 15 days of March 2019. Demand for top-tier condominiums is expected to endure through the spring, as inventory diminishes and local and global home buyers and investors seek to diversify from financial assets.

Preliminary data from the early months of 2020 also reflect a solid top-tier attached home market, as $1 million-plus sales volume experienced gains in the first two months of the year. Sales over $1 million increased 52% year-over-year  in the GTA and rose 27% in the City of Toronto to 277 and 199 homes sold.  GTA $1 million-plus attached home sales nearly doubled to 155 units sold in March 1–15, up 99% year-over-year; consistent with the same period in 2019; no sales over $4 million had yet transacted. In the City of Toronto, attached home sales over $1 million were up 48% compared to the year prior to 102 homes sold. As in the case of the condominium market, supply issues persisted, limiting potential sales in spite of demand.

The $1 million-plus single family home market experienced a blitz of activity in the first two months of 2020. Sales over $1 million in January and February rose 115% from the same period in 2019 in the GTA and 88% in the City of Toronto to 2,515 and 749 homes sold respectively reflecting a solid foundation of consumer demand and rising confidence. Luxury home sales over $4 million increased 71% year-over-year in the first two months of the year to 29 homes sold in the GTA, while sales were up 36% to 19 homes sold in the City of Toronto.

In the first fifteen days of March, 1,019 single family homes sold over $1 million in the GTA, up 98% from the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, 13 homes sold over $4 million in the GTA,  a 44% increase when compared to the year prior. During this time, $1 million-plus and $4 million-plus single family home sales in the City of Toronto rose 88% and 43% respectively.

Despite macro-economic turbulence, the GTA’s recent sales surge reveals that the underlying, long-term fundamentals of its top-tier real estate market are strong, positioning the region for renewed strength once disruption passes.

Montreal
The City of Montreal’s robust conventional and luxury real estate market fundamentals position the city to confront challenges from a strong base. Despite uncertainty, preliminary data reflects a city poised to maintain ground in top-tier real estate performance this spring.

Overall real estate sales rose for the 60th consecutive month in Montreal this February, as sales increased 23% year-over-year. Declining supply coupled with strong demand drove a rise in prices as the median prices of single family homes, plexes and condominiums rose 13%,13% and 10% respectively.

Strength in the conventional market was mirrored in the City of Montreal’s top-tier segment, as the city’s prime luxury neighborhoods saw price gains, limited days on market and sales above asking price as a result of bidding wars amongst interested buyers. Overall $1 million-plus residential real estate sales (condominiums, attached and single family homes) experienced a 68% year-over-year increase in the first two months of 2020 to 187 properties sold. The greatest sales activity was in the $1–2 million segment of the market, which experienced a 78% year-over-year increase to 155 properties sold while $2–4 million sales rose 32% to 29 properties sold. Luxury sales of over $4 million increased 50% year-over-year to three properties sold in the first two months of the year. Steady gains continued into the first fifteen days of March, during which $1 million-plus sales increased 15% year-over-year to 46 properties sold; there were no transactions over $4 million, compared to two properties sold over $4 million during this period in 2019.

Montreal’s heated condo market continued to experience steady market absorption rates in the preliminary months of the year, reflecting a sector well-positioned to withstand short term challenges.  Sales over $1 million climbed 92% year-over-year to 50 units sold in the first two months of 2020. The $1–2 million and $2–4 million segments of the market saw 83% and 133% annual sales gains to 42 units and seven units sold. One luxury $4 million-plus condominium sold on the resale market in the first two months of the year compared to none during the same period in 2019.  Top-tier condo sales remained strong in the first fifteen days of March: sales over $1 million were up 144% to 15 units sold, while there were no transactions as of yet over $4 million, consistent with  the same period in 2019. While local end-user and investor demand has driven Montreal’s luxury condominium market to date, the fact that the city remains unencumbered by foreign buyers’ and other taxes, positions the city as an attractive, accessible destination for domestic and international investment, particularly during a time of global uncertainty.

The city’s $1 million-plus attached home sales rose 63% year-over-year to 57 units sold in the first two months of 2020, while $1–2 million and $2–4 million attached home sales rose 63% and 67% to 52 and five homes sold respectively. Given the lack of luxury inventory, there were no $4 million-plus attached homes sold in the first two months of the year, as was the case during the same period in 2019. 12 attached homes sold over $1 million in the first fifteen days of March, compared to 13 sold in the first fifteen days of March 2019.

A severe shortage of supply capped market activity in the top-tier single family home market in spite of healthy demand. In spite of this, single family homes sales over $1 million in the first two months of 2020 rose 60% year-over-year to 80 homes sold.  During this time, 61 homes sold between $1–2 million, a 91% annual gain; 17 homes sold between $2–4 million, a 6% increase. Luxury sales over $4 million saw no change as two homes sold in the first two months of both 2020 and 2019. In the first fifteen days of March, sales remained stable in the face of uncertainty: 19 homes sold over $1 million compared to 20 over the same period in 2019.

Based on this performance, the City of Montreal confronts unprecedented challenges from a foundation of unprecedented real estate market strength. 

For more information on Sotheby's International Realty Canada and the 2020 Top-Tier Real Estate Spring Outlook contact:

Victoria Levy
Talk Shop Media
604-738-2220
victoria@talkshopmedia.com

About Sotheby's International Realty Canada
Combining the world's most prestigious real estate brand with local market knowledge and specialized marketing expertise, Sotheby's International Realty Canada is the leading real estate sales and marketing company for the country's most exceptional properties. With offices in over 32 residential and resort markets nationwide, our professional associates provide the highest caliber of real estate service, unrivalled local and international marketing solutions and a global affiliate sales network of approximately 1,000 offices in 71 countries and territories to manage the real estate portfolios of discerning clients from around the world. For further information, visit www.sothebysrealty.ca.

Disclaimer
The information contained in this report references market data from MLS boards across Canada. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada cautions that MLS market data can be useful in establishing trends over time but does not indicate actual prices in widely divergent neighborhoods or account for price differentials within local markets. This report is published for general information only and not to be relied upon in any way. Although high standards have been used in the preparation of the information and analysis presented in this report, no responsibility or liability whatsoever can be accepted by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, or Sotheby’s International Realty for any loss or damage resultant from any use of, reliance on or reference to the contents of this document.

Victoria Levy
Talk Shop Media
604-738-2220
victoria@talkshopmedia.com
 
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How to navigate today’s housing market given COVID-19 concerns

Concerns about COVID-19 continue to increase across the country and around the world, and measures to deal with the illness are impacting our daily lives.

People looking to buy or sell a home in today’s environment are rightly asking whether they should continue their pursuit or wait until the situation improves.

It’s important to talk with your REALTOR® and make decisions based on the latest guidance from local health experts and relevant government agencies.  

Here are some COVID-19 resources to follow the latest guidance:

Everyone’s situation is unique. It’s important to discuss and assess your personal situation in terms of health, risk, and your short and long term housing needs.

First and foremost, it’s important for everyone to:

  • not gather in groups of 50 or more people;
  • stay home and avoid others if you feel ill;
  • avoid all non-essential and self-isolate for 14 days if you’ve recently travelled abroad;
  • regularly wash your hands;
  • avoid social greetings such as handshakes; and
  • limit social interactions that could lead to the spread of illness.

Beyond these considerations, you’ll want to talk with your Realtor about responsible ways to reach your housing goals.

If you’re a buyer, do you want to attend a showing of a home? Are there virtual showings and other technology-based alternatives to face-to-face encounters?

If you’re a seller, do you want to host a showing or an open house? If so, what limits and sanitary processes should you put in place?

Have these conversations with your Realtor.

This is a fast-evolving situation. Guidance from public health experts is changing daily. Be sure to follow the latest information from reputable sources.

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COVID-19 and real estate: Video tours, 360-degree walk-throughs offer immersive alternative to open houses


 

  • Ivan Chan Photography and Videography puts together video tours like this one.

David Hutchinson thought he has seen it all.

As a Vancouver realtor for around 20 years, Hutchinson has witnessed many ups and downs in the housing market.

With COVID-19 on the rampage, Hutchinson says things are now totally different as “nothing’s really happening”.

 
 

“Nothing has halted the market like this,” Hutchinson told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

According to Hutchinson, he has open houses being cancelled because of concerns over the novel coronavirus.

“This is new territory for realtors,” Hutchinson said.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has strongly advised realtors to avoid open houses to curb the transmission of the virus.

The board suggested virtual tours, a tool that Hutchinson uses along with other means he employs in his trade.

“We’re going to have to be creative,” Hutchinson said.

For virtual tours, realtors can turn to companies like Ivan Chan Photography and Videography.

In addition to photos, the Vancouver-based creative company puts together video tours, and 360-degree virtual walk-throughs.

The company was founded by Ivan Chan, a UBC graduate who took his photography hobby to a professional level.

Chan expects digital presentations to be in demand more as realtors have to find alternative ways of showing a house without buyers being physically present at the property.

“One way to realistically show the house just as if you're there is through a video or virtual tour,” Chan told the Straight in a phone interview.

According to Chan, potential buyers can do a video or virtual tour in the comfort of their home.

A video tour is like watching a movie. A 360-degree walk-through allows viewers to click on dots on the screen to move to the next scene, just like how Google Street View works, Chan explained.

Chan said that he has been providing photo and video services for realtors over the last 10 years.

In a typical year, Chan does around 50 to 100 virtual packages.

Chan said that sellers can engage potential buyers through virtual tours as this digital technique “mimics or simulates the exact environment”.

“Virtual tours can show a seller's home with enough realism that it can replace walking into open houses,” Chan said.

Chan noted that people are already accustomed to viewing videos and photos when they shop online for various consumer products.

“The only way a product sells online is to have good photos,” Chan said.

Vancouver photographer Ivan Chan transformed his hobby into a creative business.Vancouver photographer Ivan Chan transformed his hobby into a creative business.

Back to Hutchinson, the Vancouver realtor is concerned about how deep the current requirement of social distancing will affect the housing market.

“At some point, you have to get onto the property, and do some kind of due diligence,” Hutchinson.

According to him, buying a property without even seeing it is quite rare.

Buyers also need to see a notary for the conveyance of a property to complete the transaction.

“I have a couple completions this week, and it's very difficult to get hold of a lawyer,” Hutchinson said.

According to Hutchinson, delays in sale completions can have a “domino effect” on the market.

If one sale doesn’t complete, it will affect the ability of sellers planning to purchase another property, the realtor explained.

 
Video tour of a Richmond property, care of Ivan Chan Photography and Videography.

The B.C. Real Estate Association announced online that it is supporting recommendations by local real estate boards to stop open houses.

The BCREA also stated that it is working with the 11 real estate boards in the province as the market “slows as a result of the pandemic”.

The organization added that it is liaising with other partners to “help real estate practice evolve” in order to protect realtors and consumers.

‘’We are seeing the curtailment of face-to-face commerce across all sectors and real estate is no exception,” BCREA CEO Darlene Hyde stated in the online post. “The sooner we act to slow the spread of this virus, the sooner we can help our communities and economy recover.’’

 
Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo
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Stop holding strata council meetings, open houses, says B.C. real estate regulator

"This is an extraordinary situation and we must put public health first"
this-is-how-strata-meeting-rooms-should-look-during-the-covid-19-outbreak
This is how strata meeting rooms should look during the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Pixabay

The province’s real estate regulatory body is advising local strata councils not to hold meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The call from the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) comes on the heels of recommendations from various real estate organizations — including the BC Real Estate Association and some local real estate boards — to stop holding open houses. 

"In light of the recommendations from government, and the significant health and professional risks, RECBC is advising real estate professionals to avoid open houses, in-person showings, and strata council annual general meetings at this time" said RECBC's CEO, Erin Seeley in a press release.

"This is an extraordinary situation and we must put public health first. While we are aware that this may have a significant impact on business practices for real estate professionals and consumers, we must continue to prioritize public safety." 

 

RECBC has a mandate from the provincial government to protect the public by enforcing the licensing and licensee conduct requirements under the Real Estate Services Act.  

For information on COVID-19 and the provision of real estate services, RECBC recommends visiting COVID-19 and Real Estate Services.

Read more from the Tri-City News


 


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Strata parking spaces and storage lockers

You’re looking to buy a strata condo unit close to an elevator with a parking spot and storage locker.

You locate a unit you want to buy.  What documents do you have to check to make sure the parking spot and storage locker come with the apartment you plan to buy?

Information Certificate (Form B)

This is an important document to review with your REALTOR®.

Strata corporations must identify parking spaces and storage lockers associated with units on the Form B. As a potential buyer, you can see this document.

Also ask your Realtor to review the development’s strata plan to determine whether parking and storage areas are designated as:

  • a separate strata lot or part of a strata lot;
  • limited common property; or
  • common property.

The rights of strata owners to use parking stalls and storage lockers varies depending on how the use of these areas have been allocated in the development.

The strata lot or part of a strata lot

This is any part of the registered strata plan identified with boundaries or as a separate strata lot and owned solely by the owner.

  • Parking and storage areas may be designated on the strata plan as a separate strata lot or part of a strata lot.
  • Parking and storage areas intended to be used in conjunction with a residential strata lot can’t be a separate strata lot, but can be designated as part of the strata lot and so share the same strata lot number as the residential unit.
  • A parking or storage area designated as part of a strata lot will always be owned by the strata lot owner, and a strata lot owner will transfer ownership of these areas to a purchaser upon the sale of their strata lot.

Limited common property (LCP)

Parking and storage areas are designated on the strata plan as LCP for the exclusive use of a particular strata lot. An owner with exclusive use doesn’t own the area, but has the exclusive right to use the area.

  • LCP areas are common property owned by all of owners in the strata corporation in proportion to each strata lot’s unit entitlement.
  • If parking and storage areas are designated on the strata plan as common property and aren’t limited to the use of a specific strata lot, a strata corporation can create LCP designations by passing a resolution either by a unanimous vote or a 3/4 vote.
  • The right to exclusive use of an LCP area attaches to the strata lot, not to the specific owner. When an owner sells their strata lot, the right to exclusive use of the LCP area automatically transfers to the new owner of the strata lot.

Common property

Parking and storage areas may be designated on the strata plan as common property. Similar to LCP, common property is owned by all owners in a strata corporation in proportion to their respective unit entitlements.

The use of areas designated as common property can be allocated to owners in three different ways:

1 A grant of exclusive use. The strata corporation can give an owner exclusive rights to use parking and storage areas designated as common property for a maximum term of one year.

  • The strata corporation can renew the term, alter conditions, and cancel at any point during the term by giving reasonable notice to the owner.
  • The ability to use the common property attaches to the owner and not the strata lot. Vendors can’t contractually assign permission to use parking stalls to new owners, as with a lease.
  • The new owner must ask the strata corporation for permission to use the area exclusively.
  • The strata corporation has discretion to grant exclusive use of the same or a different parking area, or deny the new owner the right to use any parking area.

2 An assignment of rights under a lease or licence. When a developer creates a strata development, the developer can grant a lease or licence over parking or storage areas to a related company or to itself (a head lease).

  • The developer or related company can assign its lease or licence interest in individual parking or storage areas to buyers of a strata lot in the development.
  • Head leases or licences of common property are created in developments with large underground parking and storage areas to enable the developer to control which buyers are assigned which parking and storage areas after the strata plan is filed.
  • Some head leases or licences are worded so the sale of a strata lot to a buyer automatically triggers an assignment of the individual parking or storage area to the new buyer. If this isn’t the case, the vendor can contractually assign their lease or licence in the contract of purchase and sale.

3 Common use of parking spaces. A strata plan may contain a parking area designated as common property that's not allocated to the use of any specific owners.

  • Owners can often use common property parking areas on a first-come first-served basis.
  • There may also be strata corporation bylaws or rules governing how owners use the parking area.


The definitive source for this information is the Office of Housing and Construction Standards. For information, go to: www.housing.gov.bc.ca. On the right-hand side, select Strata Guides and then Parking Spaces and Storage Lockers, Guide 29.

If you have questions, please contact your REALTOR®.

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How to prepare your home for sale

Are you thinking of selling your home? Before your REALTOR® begins showing your home, you will want to make sure it’s in tip-top condition. An attractive, well-kept home generally has a better chance of selling a little faster.

Minor exterior and interior improvements

Updates can add value to your home without requiring a large renovation bill. Think back to what first attracted you to your home; now determine how best to highlight and improve your home’s best features.

Here are a few ideas to help you perk up your home’s appearance. Consult with your Realtor to see what types of improvements make the most sense.

Start with the outside
  • An inviting exterior ensures that potential buyers will inspect the interior
  • Keep lawns and gardens well maintained
  • Ensure garage and porch areas are free of clutter and refuse
  • Repair loose siding or pavement
  • Replace any damaged roof shingles, eaves troughs or cracked windows
  • Wash windows, gutters, mailbox and doors
  • Secure loose shutters or awnings
The inside story

You can do a lot to improve the inside of your home without spending a great deal of money. Two primary areas to keep in mind are the kitchen and bathroom.

  • Ensure kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling clean
  • Repair dripping faucets and showerheads
  • Steam clean or replace carpets if necessary
  • Thoroughly clean every room in the house, removing all clutter
  • Repaint dingy walls or kitchen cabinets with a neutral colour
  • Replace worn or outdated countertops and cracked light-switch plates
  • Remove any items (like chandeliers) that won't be included in the sale of the home

Remember, the more effort put into the initial clean up, the easier it will be to keep your home looking its best for visits from your Realtor with prospective buyers. As well, keep in mind rooms that are too cluttered will give the impression they're much smaller than their true size. Try to create a feeling of spaciousness when conducting your spruce-up.

Pre-showing checklist

  • As a courtesy to buyers, leave the house while the Realtor is conducting a showing
  • Keep pets out of the way – preferably out of your house during the showing
  • Ensure that every room is tidy, well aired and adequately lit
  • Don't keep money, jewellery and small valuables in plain sight during a showing
  • Open drapes to maximize natural light
  • Keep all stairways and hallways clear
  • Use finishing touches like fresh flowers and candles

Ask your Realtor for his or her checklist to better prepare you for a showing or an open house. By following these relatively simple tips, you'll feel proud of your home and potential purchasers are sure to appreciate its beauty.


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Stratas and pets


If you’re planning to buy a strata property and you have furry or feathered friends, find out whether pets are allowed and if there are restrictions.

Under the Strata Property Act and Regulation, strata corporations can restrict owners and tenants from keeping pets or certain kinds of pets through the bylaws of the strata corporation.

Pet restrictions under the Standard Bylaws

Strata corporations can use the Strata Property Act’s Standard Bylaw 3(4) as a guideline. It stipulates that an owner, tenant, or occupant must not keep any pets other than: 

  • a reasonable number of fish or other small aquarium animals; 
  • a reasonable number of small caged mammals; 
  • up to two caged birds; and 
  • one dog or one cat.

The Standard Bylaws also require owners and tenants to ensure all animals are leashed or secured when on the common property or on land that is a common asset.

Strata pet bylaws

Strata corporations can also pass their own bylaws dealing with pets by creating and then filing the bylaw in the Land Title Office.

Strata bylaws can:

  • prohibit pets;
  • limit the number of pets you can keep;
  • restrict pets, such as requiring you to leash your pet in common areas; 
  • limit the kind of pets, such as no dogs, or no dogs over 20 kilograms; and 
  • require pets to be registered with the strata council.

Bylaw exemption for service animals

If an owner, tenant, or occupant depends upon a service animal due to a disability, they are allowed by law to have that animal live with them.

What if you already have a pet?

If your strata corporation creates a new pet bylaw restricting pets and you are already have a pet when the bylaw is passed, your pet can continue to live in your strata unit.

You won’t be able to get another pet unless your new pet meets pet bylaw requirements.

You will also have to make sure your pet doesn’t disturb neighbours or create a nuisance that prevents neighbours from the quiet enjoyment of their property.

For information, read this document.


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How will COVID-19 affect the housing market?

Economists and elected leaders agree that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause economic activity to slow, which will likely impact the housing market.

With that in mind, the Bank of Canada recently lowered the overnight rate as a proactive measure to ease the negative impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy.

Demand for homes last month saw significant year-over-year increases, and preliminary reports from this month show a similar trend.

In the US, however, about 16 per cent of Realtors nationwide reported reduced buyer interest since the onset of COVID-19.

Right now, sales seem to be relatively unaffected by the virus, but things are moving quite quickly and this trend might not continue.

Home sales and prices: What to expect?

Home sales and prices will likely face declines in the spring and early summer, with a recovery along with the economy in the second half of the year, according to the latest projection from BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson.

“Unsurprisingly, the results of our simulations show a steep decline in home sales in the second quarter of this year as economic activity becomes eerily quiet,” said Ogmundson in the latest BCREA Market Intelligence Report.

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Finding the right Realtor

Buying or selling a home is a significant financial decision. Your Realtor serves as your trusted advisor, guiding you at every step of the process.

That’s why it’s important to take your time to choose the right Realtor for you.

But how do you find the right Realtor for you? Here are ten steps to help.

1. Ask people you trust

Ask your friends and family who they’ve worked with before. Referrals speak volumes. Talk to people you trust and who know you. Ask detailed questions. Was your Realtor quick to respond to calls? How did they handle the paperwork, marketing, or tense situations?

Make use of the people in your lives to get a good referral.

2. Study the neighbourhood

Take note of “For Sale” signs in the area you’re interested in buying or selling and visit a few real estate offices that appear active in the neighbourhood.

3. Know how your Realtor can help you

The value you gain by working with a Realtor can be divided into three categories: service, knowledge and protection.

The right Realtor adds certainty and competitiveness to the home buying or selling experience.

They’re also skilled at contract negotiations, multiple offer situations, and are trained in real estate ethics and law. They can also:

  • help you adopt a sound negotiation strategy;
  • supply you with the most accurate and comprehensive real estate data through the MLS® system;
  • assess market history and current trends;
  • assist with the multitude of forms;
  • recommend other professionals, such as a certified home inspector, notary, insurance agent, mover or contractor.

4. Know your needs

We all have different needs, budgets and expectations. A first-time buyer requires different services than a seasoned real estate investor. Think about what expertise and knowledge you lack, and what services and insights you need from your Realtor.

5. Find the Realtor with the specialized knowledge and services you need

Realtors tend to work in certain areas and have expertise in different ways. Many have specialties in housing types or transactions. Some Realtors focus on buying and selling condos, vacation properties, land assembly deals, waterfront homes, investment properties, rentals and more.

When you talk to your potential Realtor, ask them where they work and what they specialize in.

6. Understand how working with a Realtor protects you

When working with a Realtor, each stage of a transaction occurs in front of a well-regulated backdrop designed to protect the public. This includes insurance should information be left out of a contract or incorrect, an assurance fund to protect your deposits, and multiple avenues of recourse if you feel your Realtor didn’t act in accordance with his or her professional and legal obligations.

7. Interview a few before choosing your Realtor

The right Realtor should be someone who gives you confidence. You may be working with your Realtor for weeks or months, so you’ll want to be comfortable with them. Don’t hesitate to interview a few before making your choice. Think of these as job interviews.

8. Ask the right questions

Ask Realtors you’re considering about their marketing skills, strategies, education and training, and their customer service standards.

9. Set expectations

Explain your expectations. Discuss how you’d like to communicate – are you more comfortable with text, phone, or email communication? How quickly will you expect a response? How involved do you want them to be in the process?

Setting expectations before signing any representation contract will ensure you have the relationship you want with your Realtor.

10. Begin the search

Once you’ve defined your needs, you can start your search today by using the online Realtor search tool. With this tool, you can identify Realtors based on location, language, professional designations, specialties and more.

Choose the right Realtor

Begin your home buying or selling journey today - find a Realtor who’s right for you.

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Realtors work from a powerful business system called the Multiple Listings Service® (MLS®). The MLS® contains detailed information on home listings. Owned and operated by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and its Realtor members, Realtylink is powered by the MLS®. Use Realtylink today to find your next home

Find your new home


Read full post

How will COVID-19 affect the housing market?

Economists and elected leaders agree that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause economic activity to slow, which will likely impact the housing market.

With that in mind, the Bank of Canada recently lowered the overnight rate as a proactive measure to ease the negative impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy.

Demand for homes last month saw significant year-over-year increases, and preliminary reports from this month show a similar trend.

In the US, however, about 16 per cent of Realtors nationwide reported reduced buyer interest since the onset of COVID-19.

Right now, sales seem to be relatively unaffected by the virus, but things are moving quite quickly and this trend might not continue.

Home sales and prices: What to expect?

Home sales and prices will likely face declines in the spring and early summer, with a recovery along with the economy in the second half of the year, according to the latest projection from BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson.

“Unsurprisingly, the results of our simulations show a steep decline in home sales in the second quarter of this year as economic activity becomes eerily quiet,” said Ogmundson in the latest BCREA Market Intelligence Report.

Read full post

 

How will COVID-19 affect the housing market?

Economists and elected leaders agree that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause economic activity to slow, which will likely impact the housing market.

With that in mind, the Bank of Canada recently lowered the overnight rate as a proactive measure to ease the negative impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy.

Demand for homes last month saw significant year-over-year increases, and preliminary reports from this month show