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Can you still buy a home during the coronavirus lockdown?

Can you still buy a home during the coronavirus
lockdown?

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Can you still buy a home during the coronavirus
lockdown?

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Even though the sun is high in the sky, we’re still in self-isolation and cannot fully enjoy it – unless we have a decent-sized balcony or a fancy garden. If we don’t have the latter, then we may also think of moving into a new house for a change.

Those who think of doing so now think about one thing only – namely, can one still buy a house during the coronavirus lockdown? While it may be easy to search for North Shore movers online, for example, the whole process of buying and moving into a new house during these times became a bit more complex.

Let’s now answer this question and make everything clear for you.

The short answer

Naturally, you are still able to buy a house at the moment – especially given that the restrictions imposed by many governments are not that harsh, and that one can still protect themselves from the coronavirus.

However, there are a couple of things that have to be done differently. For example:

  • You can no longer browse houses on your own – or visit them either. In such times, it is more than recommended to work with an experienced agent, as they’ll be able to do more for you in a safe environment than you will.
  • The agents we mentioned have available entire databases full of properties that they can send you to look at. You won’t have to put yourself at risk and visit the house yourself.
  • Sellers, on the other hand, are not able to hold an open house anymore. This thing alone may make many property owners temporarily withdraw from the market.
  • Moreover, due to the fear of coronavirus, sellers may not even invite you to visit the house. Again, in this case, an agent may have an easier time getting into the house.

Virtual showings

If you still want to be involved in the process of looking for and buying a new house, then you can rely on something called virtual showings.

Your agent will most likely visit the house that you want to buy and, via a camera, show you around while also allowing you to ask questions and even move to areas that you need to see.

Moving into a new house

Naturally, the hardest part is the actual move. Since gatherings of multiple people are not allowed, you won’t be able to ask friends to help you pack and then move your things to the new house.

In this case, a simple Google search for Montreal movers will get you in touch with not only a team of professional movers but also with a business that will adhere to the current safety and health measures – thus almost completely reducing the risk of anything unfortunate happening.

The bottom line

While you can still buy a new house during the coronavirus lockdown, you will have to follow a lot of additional steps to ensure the safety of your agent, the seller of the house, yourself, and of the moving professionals that will be helping you.

Everything will have to be disinfected – before and after the move -, not to mention that you may want to perform a full clean of your new house before unpacking.

In short, almost everything is possible as long as you engage in social distancing and adhere to all the regulations that are in place to avoid the spread of the coronavirus!


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Work Hard, Play Hard, Coronavirus Edition – how do you spend your downtime?

Work Hard, Play Hard, Coronavirus Edition – how do you spend your downtime?

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Work Hard, Play Hard, Coronavirus Edition – how do you spend your downtime?

Over the years, we’ve asked readers to share the stories of what they like to do when they put down their tools. In July/August 2013 and again in August/September 2017 we compiled those stories under the headline, “Work Hard, Play Hard.”

The tales in those two issues ranged from a family of contractors surviving a harrowing plane crash in the remote B.C. backcountry, who jury rigged the plane’s damage propeller and flew themselves back out, and epic motorcycle tours, to a reader who spends time at a local community centre to help new Canadians practice their English.

We’d planned to revisit the topic this year, then Coronavirus arrived and, for the time being, shut down both work and play. But we’re cautiously optimistic that restrictions on outings will start to ease and, once again, we’ll be able to partake in our favourite activities – albeit, likely in modified forms.

So, for the 2020 Work Hard, Play Hard – Coronavirus Edition, please tell us about your favourite pastimes and activities, and how they have or will be impacted by trying to maintain social distance and protect the health of the most vulnerable.

Whether its epic tales of survival, pushing your body to its limits in extreme sporting events, or maybe just using the downtime to finally tackle those projects around the house that got neglected because you were too busy working on other people’s homes, we’d love to hear from you.

Plus, we’ll work with our sponsors to put together prizes for the best entries.

Email your stories to managing editor Allan Britnell.


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Flato Developments Durham Medical Clinic

Flato Developments supporting Ontario frontline workers in fight against COVID-19

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Flato Developments supporting Ontario frontline workers in fight against COVID-19

Flato Developments, an Ontario-based community builder, is pushing forward to help alleviate the spread of the novel virus, by purchasing and donating protective equipment and critical supplies to those on the frontlines.

Flato Developments Durham Medical Clinic
Staff at the Durham Medical Clinic, with supplies donated by Flato Developments

With the number of COVID-19 cases growing in Ontario, frontline staff at hospitals and senior care homes are faced with the burden of limited medical supplies. Premier Doug Ford has called on residents and businesses of Ontario to help those in need as we face these trying times together, as a community.

The company has been continuously supporting the communities where Flato builds and operates. Flato has donated about 17,000 surgical masks and more than 2,500 KN95 masks to hospitals, senior care homes and local communities throughout southern Ontario. Separately, the company purchased and coordinated delivery of more than 3,000 tubes of hand sanitizer to those in need.

Flato has also committed to supporting local food banks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including Shepherds Cupboard Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank and The Mississauga Food Bank.

Flato Developments Cooksville Care Centre
Cooksville Care Centre staff, thanking Flato Developments for the donation of medical supplies

“Our country and province are facing unprecedented shortages of supplies needed to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic,” says Shakir Rehmatullah, president and founder of Flato. “There is a great need, now more than ever, to support our communities that have been impacted by this pandemic. We have heard, loud and clear, the message from premier Ford and want to help the communities where we build and operate in, our local families and neighbours.”

Throughout the campaign, Flato has supported the following municipalities and organizations:

  • Markham-Stouffville Hospital
  • Town of Stouffville
  • Headwaters Health Care Centre
  • City of Markham
  • Stevenson Memorial Hospital
  • South East Grey Community Health Centre
  • Town of Shelburne
  • Township of Southgate (Dundalk)
  • Township of King
  • Cooksville Care Centre
  • Simcoe County
  • Burton Manor Long Term Care
  • Markdale Hospital
  • Trillium Health Partners
  • Toronto Senior Homes
  • The Farm Rehabilitation Centre

flatogroup.com

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Flato Developments contributes to the revitalization of Dundalk

Flato Developments is proudly bringing two master-planned communities to New Tecumseth

In Conversation with… Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Developments Inc.

 

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Canadian, GTA markets to show resilience through COVID-19: Royal LePage

Canadian, GTA markets to show resilience through COVID-19: Royal LePage

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Canadian, GTA markets to show resilience through COVID-19: Royal LePage

Average Canadian – and GTA – home prices are expected to remain stable this year, despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast.

If the strict, stay-at-home restrictions characterizing the fight against COVID-19 are eased during the second quarter, prices are expected to end 2020 relatively flat, with the aggregate value of a Canadian home up a modest one per cent year-over-year, to $653,800. If restrictions are sustained through the summer, the negative economic impact is expected to drive home prices down by three per cent to $627,900 year-over-year, the realty firm says.

In December 2019, Royal LePage forecast the national aggregate price to increase 3.2 per cent by the end of 2020.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy has been swift and violent, with layoffs driving high levels of unemployment across the country,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “While it is sad that these people skewed strongly to young and to part-time workers, for the housing industry, the impact of these presumably temporary job losses will be limited as these groups are much less likely to buy and sell real estate.

“From our experience, with past recessions and real estate downturns, we are not expecting significant year-over-year price changes in 2020,” Soper adds. “Home price declines occur when the market experiences sustained low sales volume while inventory builds. Currently, the inventory of homes for sale in this country is very low, matching low sales volumes as people respect government mandates to stay at home.”

Broad-based measurements of industry activity point to a sharp decline since the provinces declared states of emergency. Home showings are down by more than two-thirds, based on Royal LePage sampling, while open house gatherings at properties for sale have been reduced to almost zero nationwide. ”

As we ease out of strict stay-at-home regimens, sales volumes will return; traditional home sales practices will not,” says Soper. “The popular ‘open house’ gathering of buyers on a spring afternoon is gone, and it won’t be coming back any time soon. The industry is leveraging technologies that allow a home to be shown remotely and social distancing protocols, where we restrict client interaction with our realtors to limited one-on-one or two meetings, will continue for months and months. This process is inherently safer than a trip to the grocery store.”

The aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 4.4 per cent to $655,276 in the first quarter. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 5.1 per cent year-over-year to $770,005, while bungalows and condominiums rose 2.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent to $541,040 and $493,917, respectively. Price data, which includes both resale and new build, is provided by Royal LePage’s sister company RPS Real Property Solutions.

“If the fight against the coronavirus requires today’s tight stay-at-home mandates to remain in place for several more months, with no semblance of normal business activity allowed, temporary job losses will become permanent and consumer confidence will be harder to repair,” says Soper. “This would place downward pressure on both home sales volumes and prices.

“Equally, if the collective efforts of Canadians slow the spread of the disease to manageable levels, and if promising science and therapeutic drugs are announced, people will return to their jobs, market confidence will bounce back quickly, and we could see Canada’s real estate markets roar back to life, with 2020 transactions delayed but not eliminated.”

GTA market

In the GTA, housing demand outstripped supply, putting significant upward pressure on home prices. During the first quarter of 2020, the aggregate home price rose 7.5 per cent year-over-year to $866,211.

When broken out by property type, the median price of a condominium saw the highest appreciation, rising 8.8 per cent year-over-year to $580,508, while two-storey homes and bungalows rose 7.7 per cent and 3.7 per cent to $1.01 million and $826,186, respectively.

If business activity resumes by the end of the second quarter, the GTA may see a year-over-year increase of 1.5 per cent to its aggregate home price by the end of 2020, to $861,100. If business activity resumes in late summer 2020, the region could see a decrease of 0.5 per cent year-over-year in aggregate home price to $844,200.


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New home sales centre app

Program helps builders get back to business safely after COVID-19

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Program helps builders get back to business safely after COVID-19

Toronto-based real estate marketing and advertising firm Ryan Design has created a customizable and innovative turnkey safety COVID-19 program for new-home builders.

New home sales centre app

When sales offices reopen, they will need to be ready to provide an environment that is safe for everyone and continues to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A leading marketing firm serving numerous homebuilders across Canada, and trained by the World Health Organization (WHO), Ryan Design has created a complete COVID-19 safety program that is innovative and customizable to any builder.

As an essential service, homebuilders continue to build the homes people have been promised across the province. Using technology and an app, staff and trades workers on construction sites can help to ensure everyone’s safety.

Touchless job site sign-in portal

To keep everyone on the job site and in the community safe, Ryan Design has created a Touchless Job Site Sign-In and Sign-Out Portal. Tradespeople can now scan at arrival and departure and conduct health screening using an app on their phone.

A complete signage package for the app can been created for a builder’s job site. This part of the program also includes staff training and a complete reporting package for builders regarding trades on site.

Reopening sales centres and decor studios

When builders are allowed to reopen sales centres and design studios, these spaces will have to function differently and be safer for everybody, yet still be welcoming.

Another part of this new program for builders is a retrofit plan for existing sales offices. It includes easy installation of materials to add physical distance and innovative COVID-19 branded kits to help them feel safe and more comfortable in their homebuying journey.

COVID-19 changed the way sales consultants connect with prospective homebuyers and close a sale. Early on, Ryan Design developed a proprietary virtual selling system so that homebuilders could continue doing business. For many, this system has led to more new-home sales than anticipated after their sales office closure.

This customizable and innovative turnkey COVID-19 safety program for new-home builders by Ryan Design is a way to plan for a safe and secure reopening. With this program, both builders and homebuyers can feel safe and comfortable when it’s time to reopen.

ryan-design.com

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BILD report April 20 issue

New-home building and renovation industry acts to protect workers, customers

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New-home building and renovation industry acts to protect workers, customers

In times like these, people’s health and well-being are of the utmost importance. This extends to workers in Ontario’s new-home building and renovation industry and to our industry’s customers. For many residents of the GTA, this is a period of heightened anxiety and concern, so I want to take the opportunity to let readers know how our industry is striving to be part of the solution.

BILD report April 20 issue

I have been in regular contact with our members to understand what actions they are taking and to co-ordinate responses with provincial and municipal authorities. Without fail, BILD members are taking action to help meet community needs and respond to the health crisis, guided by the best information available, that is, information from the public health authorities in the municipali- ties and regions where they operate.

Individual company actions may vary based on their own unique situations. Companies are enabling work where possible. Many are opening sales centres by appointment only, or closing them entirely for now. They are taking steps to ensure increased hygiene, sanitation and cleaning for locations that remain operational.

Working diligently

We all know that the current situation is not normal and that as we all work to address and overcome this global pandemic, there will be impacts. Global supply chains, movement of goods and productivity are all affected. Our industry is working diligently to ensure that we continue to fulfil our responsibilities to our customers. We also recognize that eventually the effects of the current situation will extend to the delivery of new homes and completion of renovations, as well as any warranty work that might be required under builder warranties and Ontario’s New Home Warranties program.

In this regard, Tarion, Ontario’s body for consumer protection and administration of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and regulations, has recently issued an advisory for home builders and new-home buyers on what to expect during the COVID-19 situation. This material can be accessed at tarion.com. It provides solid guidance, but should not replace direct dialogue with your builder.

The GTA’s new-home building industry, professional renovators and land developers are doing their best to continue to meet the housing needs of residents, while at the same time doing their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At times like these, we must all pull together by working collaboratively and taking care of each other. That is our industry’s commitment to our colleagues, our customers and each other.

h_mar20_industry_report_1

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

bild.ca

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At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

 

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TRREB resale March 20

GTA resale sales see drastic drop in March due to COVID-19

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GTA resale sales see drastic drop in March due to COVID-19

March 2020 resale home sales in the GTA were very much a tale of two markets – pre and post COVID-19.

TRREB resale March 20

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports that 8,012 home sales through TRREB’s MLS System in March 2020 – up 12.3 per cent compared to 7,132 sales reported in March 2019.

However, despite a strong increase in sales for March 2020 as a whole, there was a clear break in market activity between pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 (after March 15).

Market impact

“The overall sales result for March was strong relative to last year, but the impact of COVID-19 was certainly evident in the number of sales reported in the second half of March,” says TRREB President Michael Collins. “Uncertainty surrounding the outbreak’s impact on the broader economy and the onset of the necessary social distancing measures resulted in the decline in sales since March 15. Sales figures for April will give us a better sense as to the trajectory of the market while all levels of government take the required action to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

“While COVID-19 has clearly had an impact on the housing market, the late March numbers still suggest that there is activity in the marketplace,” adds TRREB CEO John DiMichele. “TRREB continues to strongly recommend stopping in-person open houses and has provided its members with guidelines for social distancing. TRREB’s professional development staff are working hard to educate its members via webinars on using technology in innovative ways to conduct business virtually.”

Strong demand

“Despite sales and listings trending lower in the second half of March, demand for ownership housing remained strong enough relative to listings to see the average selling price remain above last year’s levels, including during the last few days of the month,” says Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst. “As we move through April, we will have a clearer view on how social distancing measures and broader economic conditions will influence sales and ultimately the pace of price growth.”

The average selling price for March 2020 as a whole was $902,680 – up 14.5 per cent compared to March 2019. The average selling price for sales between March 15 and 31 was $862,563 – down from the first half of March, but still up 10.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Revised forecast

TRREB is to release a forecast update in mid-April, after seeing 2020 started with a near-record pace for home sales in the first quarter and double-digit annual rates of price growth.

RELATED READING

How buyers can prepare for the busy buying season – post-COVID-19

What the coronavirus means for Canadian real estate

GTA home price growth to hit 10 per cent this year: TRREB

 

 

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bidet_rc_aprmay2020_fi

It’s time to embrace the bidet

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It’s time to embrace the bidet

Okay, not literally. But you know what we mean

If you’ve ever travelled overseas you’ll have noticed what seems to North American eyes to be an odd addition to the bathroom: a bidet. While bidets are common across South America, the Middle East, parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe (in fact, many European building codes mandate their installation in bathrooms), they just never seem to catch on here in Canada and the U.S.

Covid-19, aka Coronavirus, may just change that. One of the first noticeable impacts of Covid-19 spreading to new areas was a wave of toilet paper hoarding just ahead of its arrival. While here at home, most of us were infuriated by images of shoppers with six months’ or more supply of bog roll stacked in the shopping carts, people around the world were likely more perplexed by the idea of people stocking up on what’s essentially a non-essential item.

Wiping your butt with toilet paper is not the norm.

Around the world, most people cleanse themselves using water, often using either a small jug of water (known in Muslim countries as a “lota”) or a hand-held spray nozzle attached the bathroom wall.

Modern bidets combine the comfort and familiarity of using a toilet, with the hygienic and environmentally friendly advantages of using water to wash instead of toilet paper.

There are two basic types of bidet. One is an oval shaped basin that the user straddles, then fills with water from the built-in faucet. (Yes, this involves some hands-on action.) The other style has a nozzle that squirts a jet of water onto the user’s nether regions.

High-end bidets including heated seats, adjustable water temperature, multiple self-cleaning spray nozzles, and warm-air dryers. Really high-end models include automated lids and lights, music streaming, and voice activation features.

There are also aftermarket replacement seats that convert a conventional toilet in a bidet. These connect to the cold-water supply feeding the tank.

Regardless of style, rinsing with water is far more hygienic than dry wiping with paper. Plus, consider the financial and environmental costs of creating a product that you’ll literally flush down the toilet moments after using it.

So, all you plumbers and bathroom renovators out there trying to figure out what comes next: build your business around bidets.

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