RE/MAX: amidst the Pandemic Toronto Real estate market is growing

RE/MAX: COVID-19 can?t slow demand in Toronto real estate market

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

COVID-19 has not significantly deterred buyers in Toronto due to the market-friendly monetary and fiscal conditions driven by the federal government and the Bank of Canada, according to a RE/MAX analysis.

While employment levels have fluctuated and businesses have placed themselves on hold over the last few months, “at the same time, there has been sustained activity in the number of buyers compared to available listings,” RE/MAX said. “This is one of the chief factors in supporting price growth relative to last year’s pace, despite shifting market conditions.”

Data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board showed that in May, the market’s average home price grew by 3% annually to reach $863,599.

Federal measures played a large part in keeping the number of prospective buyers stable, RE/MAX said.

“Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has supported lenders to cover the cost of mortgage deferrals,” RE/MAX said. “In a broader policy tool, the government implemented a wage subsidy program to help employers keep staff on payroll, helping millions continue to collect pay cheques and cover their bills.”

RE/MAX also pointed at the current BoC benchmark rate of 0.25% as especially advantageous to Canadians who were fortunate to have kept their jobs during the crisis.

“This is allowing buyers to borrow greater amounts of money at a lower cost over time,” RE/MAX said. “The institution has also pumped billions of liquidity into the financial system, making lenders more confident in issuing loans.”

Copyright © 2020 Key Media

CoreLogic launches AI driven platform for real estate agents

OneHome streamlines communication between agents and home buyers

Natalie Gagliordi

CoreLogic, a provider of data and analytics for the real estate and mortgage industries, is unveiling a new AI-based platform called OneHome that aims to improve the home-buying process for agents and consumers. 

CoreLogic said that OneHome streamlines communication between agents and home buyers during the purchase process, while also providing a virtual marketplace and AI-enabled home searches, as well as access to financing, insurance and home improvement providers via digital collaboration. 

“As we expand our reach into home marketing services and leverage our national footprint, CoreLogic is excited to bring a high impact and innovative solution that significantly improves the home-buying experience for consumers, real estate agents and other stakeholders in the home marketing, selection and buying process,” said Frank Martell, CEO of CoreLogic. “We believe that the OneHome tool is a major step forward in providing millions of home buyers with a richer and more efficient experience when buying and owning a home.”

Real estate agents are among the bevy of professionals looking to adapt their market to the new era of social distancing. The industry is beginning to move away from in-person appraisals, filings and closings in favor of digital alternatives, and consumers are seeking out virtual options when it comes to searching for and touring homes. 

For instance, online real estate database giant Zillow has recently accelerated its focus on virtual and self-tours, machine learning and e-signings to speed up real estate digital transformation. The company reported in May that it has increased its creation of 3D home tours by over 500% since February as part of its Zillow 2.0 initiative. 

For CoreLogic, which just rejected a $7 billion takeover offer from Cannae Holdings and Senator Investment Group, the launch of OneHome could help position the company as a bigger tech player in the real estate industry of the future.

© 2020 CBS Interactive.

Homebuyers pulling the trigger in the Fraser Valley and beyond

The Fraser Valley?s affordability and lifestyle a magnet for home buyers

Randy Shore
The Province

B.C.’s real estate market is showing extraordinary resilience in extraordinary times, with wild increases in sales across the province.

“The Fraser Valley continues to be a magnet for families because of its affordability and lifestyle,” said Chris Shields, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. “I think a lot more people are telecommuting as the work environment has changed.”

With head offices sprinkled around the region, people can live in Abbotsford and work for a company headquartered in Burnaby, he said.

Home sales came roaring back in the Fraser Valley in June, dragging prices of detached homes, townhouses and apartments higher.

More than 1,700 properties sold last month, a 113 per cent increase from May and a 31 per cent increase from last year at this time. Sales were just a shade below the ten-year average for June.

Very low interest rates and pent-up demand drove much of the rebound, said Shields. Detached homes were selling after an average of just 31 days on the market.

People may also have been motivated to pull the trigger before tighter mortgage insurance rules took effect July 1, said Shields. People are also feeling more comfortable with social distancing and virtual tools in the sales process.

“June’s numbers clearly indicate that the market is functioning in this challenging new environment and we’re returning to more typical activity levels,” he said.

Prices rose the most for detached homes (3.6 per cent), followed by apartments (3.3 per cent) and townhouses (1.9 per cent).

People who were wary of buying in the Okanagan during the pandemic were picking their spots to buy in June. Townhouses that sold in the North Okanagan last month had been on the market for an average of 106 days, nearly 50 per cent longer than usual.

Likewise for Shuswap, where townhouses sold in June averaged 111 days on the market.

Prices for detached homes rose between one and 3.5 per cent across the entire region, while apartment prices were up between 3.5 and 4.9 per cent.

Home sales rebounded by more than 64 per cent in June compared to May in Greater Vancouver, though sales volume was about 20 per cent below the ten-year average.

Steep price declines predicted by some pundits failed to materialize despite the disruption caused by COVID-19.

“Last summer home prices bottomed out after a three-year decline and since then they have levelled out,” said Colette Gerber, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. “As inventory has come in, we’ve been in a balanced market, so prices are not going to go down.”

“We saw large sales volume from January to March and these people need a place to live,” she said. “Your housing needs don’t go away, families are growing and people need space to work from home.”

Sunday Hawthorne bought a home in Vancouver last month and marvelled at both the selection and the relaxed pace of the process.

“Properties aren’t selling at breakneck speed, there were no multiple offer situations and no one was bidding over the asking price,” she said.

The pandemic may also be driving buyers further from the city.

“On Vancouver Island we have definitely seen a surge in rural property sales,” said Kevin Reid, president of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. “I think COVID has reminded people of how much time they spend in their homes and maybe some people are deciding to change the way that they live.”

Like many realtors, Reid had a number of sales fall apart after the lockdown announcement by the provincial government on March 18.

“For almost two months realtors did almost no business unless a person was committed to a sale and would literally have no place to live if they didn’t buy something,” he said.

However, sales surged by 59 per cent in June as people became more comfortable with physical distancing, he said.

© 2020 Postmedia Network Inc.

Prices steady as resale home in Metro Vancouver housing sales on June-Q2, increase 17 percent than June, 2019

Prices steady as resale home sales increase Metro Vancouver’s June housing sales up month-over-month and 17 per cent above June 2019 with prices higher than a year ago

Glen Korstrom
Western Investor

Metro Vancouver posted 2,443 home sales in June, which was 17.6 per cent more than the 2,077 home sales in June 2019, and 64.5 per cent higher than the 1,485 homes that transacted in May, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

The rise in sales, however, remains 21.9 per cent below the 10-year average for home sales in June. 

Prices have held steady.

The benchmark price for all Metro Vancouver homes that sold in June was $1,025,300, which was down 0.3 per cent from May but up 3.5 per cent from the same month a year ago.

“Home prices have remained steady with minimal fluctuation over the last few months,” said REBGV chair Colette Gerber. “With increasing demand, realtors have begun seeing multiple offers for homes priced competitively for today’s market.”

There were 5,787 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in the region in June 2020. This represents a 21.8 per cent increase compared to the 4,751 homes listed in June 2019, and a 57.1 per cent increase compared to May 2020, when 3,684 homes were listed.

The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS system in Metro Vancouver is 11,424. That’s 23.7 per cent down from the 14,968 homes that were listed for sale in June 2019, but up 15.1% per cent from the 9,927 listed properties in May 2020.

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for June 2020 was 21.4 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 19.9 per cent for detached homes, 25.2 per cent for townhomes, and 21.3 per cent for apartments. Real estate insiders tend to describe the market as a “buyers’ market” when the sales-to-active-listings ratio is less than 12 per cent, and a “sellers’ market” when that ratio is above about 20 per cent for several months in a row.

Sales of detached homes in June reached 866, up 16.1 per cent from the 746 detached sales recorded in June 2019. The benchmark price for a detached home was $1,464,200, up 3.6 per cent from June 2019, and up 0.5 per cent from May 2020.

Condominium apartment home sales increased to 1,105 in June, up 17.4 per cent increase from the 941 sales in June 2019. The benchmark price of an apartment property was $680,800, up 3.6 per cent from June 2019, and down 0.8 per cent from May 2020.

Attached homes were the residential real estate sector that saw the biggest percentage jump in price, year-over-year. Those sales in June totalled 472, up 21 per cent compared to the 390 sales in the same month a year ago. The benchmark price for an attached home in June was $790,800, up 2.3 per cent from June, 2019, but down 0.2 per cent compared with May.

© Copyright 2020 Western Investor

Metro Vancouver New Condo sales starts to fall

New condo sales, starts plummet in Metro Vancouver

Frank O’Brien
Western Investor

Only two new condominium projects with 200 units launched in the six weeks ending May 15, down 75 per cent from the same period in 2019

A pandemic panic may be settling into Metro Vancouver’s once robust condominium market, at least for the short-term. Presales of new condo units are down 50 per cent and new product launches had plunged 75 per cent as of mid-May, industry reports say.

Some buyers of pre-sale condos are now trying to unload their investment on Craigslist before the building opens.

According to the latest results from Altus Group’s Condominium Apartment Monitor, between the beginning of April and the middle of May, only two new condominium apartment projects launched in Metro Vancouver, with a total of just over 200 new units, down by almost 75 per cent from the same period in 2019.  

Year-to-date new supply is down about 15 per cent, with 3,000 new units brought to market since the beginning of the year –  the majority of which launched prior to mid-March when a global pandemic was declared. Sales volumes typically follow the new supply and, with the drop-off in project launches, pre-sales were down during this period by just over 50 per cent, Altus Group reports.

MLA Canada, one of Vancouver’s largest new condo marketing agencies, put an upward spin on the numbers, citing the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

“Sales volumes remain low overall and consumers need additional time to adapt to the new reality as we re-open the economy. However, we are cautiously optimistic as we see positive trends in inquiries into our presentation centres and increased sales from last month [April] in pre-sales,” said Suzana Goncalves, executive vice-president sales and marketing, partner at MLA.

Goncalves noted that B.C. began lifting pandemic restrictions on May 15.

“Accordingly, the majority of presentation centres expanded appointments and began offering regular drop-in hours to entice motivated purchasers. Despite this, many projects continue to experience depressed activity as economic, social, and financial uncertainty persist,” she said.

New strata developments that found success in May were largely townhome projects, mostly located in the Fraser Valley. Specific areas with high levels of activity were Langley and South Surrey, according to MLA Canada’s market survey released June 9.

While typical monthly pre-sale sold rates vary between 20 per cent to 35 per cent,  May was “significantly impacted by Covid-19” and experienced a pre-sale sold rate of only 10 per cent, MLA reported. 

A sign of the softening market for new strata units is the recent profusion of assignment sales by pre-sale buyers. An assignment is when the original buyer of a pre-sale condo sells their rights to the condo to another buyer before the condo is completed.

Western Investor counted three dozen such listings on the online listing service Craigslist July 1, or about twice the level our staff counted in January 2020. Under most pre-sale contracts, buyers are not allowed to list assignments on the multiple listing service of real estate boards.

A telling example is a new two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo apartment in Burnaby’s Metrotown that completes this October.  “Originally purchased for $841,800 but now assigning for $784,900,” the July 1 Craigslist ad reads.


Copyright © Western Investor

Telling Tale of Two Hotel Sales in Victoria, an Award-winning Waterfront Property.

Telling tale of two hotel sales In Victoria, an award-winning waterfront property sells to a developer for $5.6 million while B.C. taxpayers pay $14 million for a half-century old motel where the building is assessed at $90,000

Frank O’Brien?
Western Investor

The vagaries of the hotel industry and the political pressure of a pandemic played out in Victoria’s hard-hit hotel market last month as the fabled Sooke Harbour House sold for $5.6 million just weeks after the B.C. government paid $14 million for an aging three-star motel on Douglas Street.
Sooke Harbour House, nestled on 2.5 acres of waterfront in Sooke
Harbour just outside of Victoria, was sold to North Vancouver developer IAG Enterprises late June under a court-ordered sale.
“The hotel needs some love,” Alex Watson, chief operating officer with IAG Enterprises Ltd., told the Victoria Times Colonist.
A B.C. Supreme Court order approved the sale after foreclosure actions had been launched. The hotel is currently closed.
Sooke Harbour House made a name for itself internationally after Frederique and Sinclair Philip purchased the property in 1979. Their focus on locally grown food and seafood and a top-notch wine cellar earned them honours inside Canada and beyond. It has hosted movie stars and served as a movie-set location.
But the 28-suite hotel faced money problems and in 2015, the Business Development Bank of Canada began a foreclosure action, saying it was owed $2.9 million. The Philips mounted a financial revival that ultimately failed.
Watson is aiming to make the Sooke hotel a foodie destination once more.
“We have already made some overtures to some high-end food groups to come in and manage the restaurant side of it,” he said.
IAG plans to operate the hotel as a boutique destination resort after improvements are completed, Watson said.

Paul’s Motor Inn

Near downtown Victoria, the purchase of Paul’s Motor Inn by the B.C. government showed another twist of the pandemic pain.
The government bought the motel June 4 for $14 million after the province had leased 35 of its 75 rooms to house homeless people. Many of these were encamped in local parks without sanitary facilities or the possibility of social distancing deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The motel’s current BC Assessment value is $8.7 million, but the agency assessed the motel building itself at just $90,000. The most recent Trip Advisor rating for Paul’s Motor Inn was three stars, but this appears generous based on comments from clients who posted on the popular travel site.
The high purchase price of the 49-year-old motel is considered an aberration in the current market, which saw about 60 per cent of hotels close down across the province during the pandemic. Most hotels did not restart operations until June 26 when the province entered the third phase of pandemic regulations
“The traditional market [for hotel investments] has dried up,” said Carrie Russell, senior managing partner of hotel consultancy HVS International, of North Vancouver. “There are virtually no transactions in B.C.”
The motel’s new residents will have access to meals, health care, addictions treatment and harm reduction, plus storage for personal items, according to the government. A local restaurant is being contracted to provide takeout food, said Heidi Hartman, B.C. Housing regional director of operations for Vancouver Island.
The remaining 20 employees working in the motel have been offered temporary employment until a new operator comes in, Hartman said.
Retaining staff may be a challenge.
Rev. Canon Ian Powell, former managing director of Paul’s Motor Inn and Restaurant, told CFAX 1070 that the motel had “considerable strife” after BC Housing leased about half the hotel back in April.
Powell said some staff members refused to work while people were being sheltered at the motel, due to safety concerns. A key supplier also refused to enter the hotel, he added.
“We were dealing with drug dealing, we were dealing with needles where one wouldn’t expect, we were dealing with stolen things – and I don’t just mean soap, I mean TVs, air conditioners,” he said. “Regrettably, most of all I think, was abuse to the staff, and threats.”
BC Housing said staff will be on site around the clock to provide security for residents and the neighbourhood, the province said. A community advisory committee is also being set up to deal with concerns raised by neighbours. An experienced non-profit operator for Paul’s is expected to be chosen in coming weeks, the government said.

With files from Times Colonist, CFAX-1070 radio

Copyright © Western Investor