Each day of this pandemic I wake up wondering if this will be the day when nothing new comes out, and we have some stability in our lives. Of course, today is not that day as the landscape has shifted yet again.
As you are likely aware, the Ontario government has mandated all non-essential businesses to close as of midnight, tonight. Turns out, there are way more essential businesses than I had thought there were, and the Ontario government has included real estate agent services, land registration, legal, and moving services in its list of essential services.
The good news is this means that Ontarians can maintain mobility, close on their real estate transactions, and move into their homes.
A home is for many of us, the most significant purchase we will make, and it is never taken lightly.
What also cannot be taken lightly is how rigorously we REALTORS® must heed the advice from public health officials to operate safely so together we can plank the curve of COVID-19.
This will not, cannot, be business as usual.
I urge you to understand and follow the social distancing guidelines as provided by Health Canada.
- KWAR advises members to rigorously follow the Health Canada guidelines in all of their activities
- If you and your clients are able to self-isolate, that is best.
- If not, then follow the guidelines to ensure social distancing as well as other means to mitigate risk
- Members should avoid open houses, especially the traditional public ones
- The potential for spreading COVID-19 goes well beyond just an open house…we need to be vigilant with all activities to the highest level
- Though there is currently no ban on open houses (only the government could ban them outright) – both KWAR and OREA strongly caution against having one and CREA has decided to remove open house information from REALTOR.ca, effective end of day March 24, 2020
- If the occupant in your listing is in a high-risk category, you should suspend your listing
- If you or your buyers are in a high-risk category, you should suspend activities until the risk is reduced
- The MLS® Rules requires all listings added to the MLS® System to be immediately available for showings – this rule still applies. However, how you show the property is between you, the seller/occupant and cooperating brokerage
Fortunately, I know Realtors are innovative and can perform many if not all tasks virtually. If we are anything but ridged in our compliance, then I would expect the government to reassess their decision and remove real estate services from the list of essential services.
Later on today I will be interviewed by The Record, who are asking what impact this will have on the local market. At this stage, it is largely speculation that is proportionate to how long the quarantine lasts and the viruses impact on our region. There is no doubt it is having a hard impact on the economy, but how long it will take to recover is unknown.
If the declaration of emergency continues beyond 2 or 3 weeks, we would expect it to take more buyers and sellers out of the market.
It was reassuring to see the big six banks decide to implement a six-month payment deferral for mortgages. And the Government of Canada has implemented measures to bolster the financial system and the Canadian economy through the launch of a revised Insured Mortgage Purchase Program.
- Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through CMHC. This action will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders in order to ensure continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses.
As you know, we’ve been in a solid sellers’ market for so long now it’s the only market many members know. Supply has been very tight, but we expect this to shift to a degree.
The housing market has shown great resiliency historically speaking, and while we have never been through something like this, I do believe Waterloo region benefits from one of the most innovative, and diverse economies in Canada.
Canada’s Prime Minister and Ontario’s Premier has called upon everyone to stay home wherever possible – this is bound to impact the housing market. It is critical that we as Realtors do our part to help plank the curve of this disease. How we operate now, is with everyone’s safety first and foremost and strictly following Health Canada’s guidelines.
As for KWAR, I can tell you staff are working hard to bring you information as quickly as it becomes available and are busy putting together a robust delivery of online learning content.
As Realtors we know it is important that we are always learning. And we are always adapting.
I know we will get through this.
Work smart, work safe, stay healthy,
Colleen Koehler, President