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

Fears of spreading COVID-19 and less job security are contributing to frozen market

Joanne Lee-Young
The Province

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.

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.

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.

© 2020 Vancouver Sun, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.

Mortgage Rate Forecast

The panic sent Canadian bond yields down sharply



  • COVID-19 sends interest rates plummeting
  • Canadian recession unavoidable
  • Bank of Canada cutting rates, but how low?

Read The Full Report HERE

Mortgage Rate OutlookThe growing fears of the potential impact of COVID-19 resulted in a full market meltdown in late February, sending equity markets into free fall and global bond yields plummeting. On top of an already volatile situation, two of the world’s largest oil producers, Saudi Arabi and Russia, have engaged in a price war that sent oil prices to levels not seen since the late 1990s.The panic sent Canadian bond yields down sharply and prompted emergency rate cutting by the Bank of Canada. Variable and 5-year fixed qualifying mortgage rates have followed bond yields lower with the 5-year fixed rate reaching 2.59 per cent, its lowest level since 2016 and very near its lowest level on record.

Landlords, renters to get help from British Columbia government

BC government to support landlords, renters

Steve Randall
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

The British Columbia government has announced support for the province’s landlords and renters during the coronavirus crisis.

It is introducing a new rental supplement to pay up to $500 a month towards rent payments, building on provincial and federal support already announced.

The payment will be made directly to landlords for any British Columbians who are facing financial hardship.

“With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are worried they can’t make the rent. It’s a challenging time for landlords too,” said Premier John Horgan. “Nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19. Our plan will give much-needed financial relief to renters and landlords. It will also provide more security for renters, who will be able to stay in their homes without fear of eviction or increasing rents during this emergency.”

The supplement will support those in low and moderate incomes who are not eligible for existing rental assistance programs.

The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health. The full list of immediate measures includes:

  • The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords.
  • Halting evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.
  • Halting the enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.
  • Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.
  • Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for example, for showings or routine maintenance), except in exceptional cases where it is  needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
  • Restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (no personal service and allowing email).
  • Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.

“People are feeling a lot of fear and anxiety and they need to be able to depend on the comfort and stability of home right now. Our government is taking steps to help take some of the pressure off renters and landlords and protect people’s health,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’re helping renters pay rent and giving them the peace of mind that they have a stable home in these unprecedented times, and ensuring that landlords can count on some rental income right now to keep them afloat too.”

Copyright © 2020 Key Media Pty Ltd

Ethics Guy: Doing business virtually in a crisis


It goes without saying that we’re expected to look after our clients and not to put them in harm’s way. 

I’d think many potential buyers and sellers are sitting things out for awhile, waiting for the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 to subside. 

If you encounter a seller or buyer who absolutely has to buy or sell for some reason, know that you’re not obligated to take their business. If you do, however, you become their agent and as such, you’re obliged to follow their lawful instructions so long as they comply with government instructions. 

First, the mea culpa, I’ve never done a virtual deal. My deals were all done with quill pens. But we’re facing strange times so let’s take this “doing business virtually” idea out for a test-drive. 

Let’s start with my definition of doing business virtually. 

For me, it means you’re causing something to happen without you being there in person. Think about it, we’ve been doing business virtually for quite a while now. I mean, you’ve been phoning, emailing, texting and Touchbasing your clients and each other for years. 

We’ve made your listings visible to anyone on the planet via the web for at least 20 years or more. 

Posting photographs, floor plans and virtual tours is commonplace. With access to the wealth of property information from LTSA, local government maps and now, the enterprise version of AutoProp, it’s never been easier to get the necessary information to clients and others. 

For years, you’ve been writing offers with products like Docusign and legally executing contracts. Making counter-offers and other contract changes is also a breeze, since all of the parties go to the same live document to affix their encrypted signatures. 

Some members are promoting their listings virtually and handling offers electronically. These offers are being made subject to inspection. This means that the buyer makes the offer based on the listing information, pictures and virtual tour. The deal is established by way of contract, subject only to the buyer inspecting the property in person. Again, the informed consent of the parties for that inspection, with an appropriate nod to the health risk, tenants’ rights and physical distancing, would be absolutely vital.

Most buyer agents have been emailing their buyers’ offers to sellers’ agents for ages. Perhaps less frequent, is the use of products like Facetime, WhatsApp or similar, to present and discuss contracts, documents and other things, without us having to be physically there with our clients.

See. We’re already virtual REALTORS®. 

But there’s more we can do because, the times being what they are, we’re expected to do everything we can to keep this infernal virus at bay. For us, this has now become a professional and societal obligation.

That’s why your Board relaxed Rule 3.22 regarding showing availability and continues to strongly recommend that you refrain from holding Open Houses, avoid in-person interactions as much as possible, and adhere to the most up-to-date physical-distancing requirements from our government and public health officials. 

These requirements, and they are required, are changing often. We have an obligation to know and follow them.

For example, the provincial government announced on Wednesday that, while the provincial emergency order is in place, landlords are not permitted to enter a tenant’s rental space (for showings, routine maintenance etc.) without the tenant’s consent. Exceptions were given to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit. (Expect more details from the Residential Tenancy Branch early next week.)

Your showings, if there are to be any, must be kept to an absolute minimum, with them being arranged only with the consent of the parties, including any tenants.

Please work with your clients, and their tenants where applicable, to discuss how to responsibly achieve their housing and shelter needs amid today’s public health emergency. 

As much as possible, employ other approaches to in-person interactions, such as virtual showings and other technology-based solutions. 

We’re all in a challenging spot and we’re trying to do the best we can given the circumstances. Let’s all do our part.

We’re watching the COVID-19 situation carefully and will continue to provide you with advice as often and quickly as possible.

As I prepare to hit send on this message, I worry that a new government announcement could make my suggestions outdated by the time you read it.

That’s just the times we’re living in.

Stay safe,


Bank of Canada enacts another overnight rate cut

For the third time this month, the Bank of Canada cut to the overnight rate

Phil Hall
Mortgage Broker News

For the third time this month, the Bank of Canada cut to the overnight rate, this time slashing off 50 basis points to a new level of .025%. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 0.50% and the deposit rate is .025% percent.

In a press statement, the central bank said this “unscheduled rate decision brings the policy rate to its effective lower bound and is intended to provide support to the Canadian financial system and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The BoC also launched two programmes designed to address the economic chaos created by COVID-19: The Commercial Paper Purchase Program (CPPP) is designed to “alleviate strains in short-term funding markets and thereby preserve a key source of funding for businesses,” while the second initiative will have the BoC acquiring Government of Canada securities in the secondary market, beginning with a minimum acquisition of $5 billion per week across the yield curve.

“The program will be adjusted as conditions warrant, but will continue until the economic recovery is well underway,” the BoC said, adding that its balance sheet “will expand as a result of these purchases.”

Copyright © 2020 Key Media

Online data shows real estate activity plummeting

Prospective homebuyers are taking COVID-19 seriously.

Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Before going any further, CREW would like to first say this:


And if you can’t do that:


The sooner everyone begins following the suggestions of the world’s best-informed health experts and avoiding the kind of contact that all but guarantees the continued spread of COVID-19, the sooner everyone goes back to work. The sooner we’re all back to work, the sooner we can start building the economy back up. None of that happens, however, until we start acting like adults. And sometimes being an adult involves doing what you’re told by people who know more than you.

This goes doubly for investors who are flat-out ignoring the COVID-19 crisis by continuing to view properties in person, and triply for those who see the pandemic as a way of saving money by purchasing properties in a less competitive environment. Opportunism at a time like this doesn’t prove a person’s shrewdness. It’s just a naked display of grossness. If you can’t put your personal appetites on hold for the greater good now, there’s not much hope for you the next time the world’s in turmoil.

Fortunately, recent data indicates that prospective homebuyers are taking COVID-19 seriously.

A recent study by Point2Homes showed that visits to the company’s website dropped 8 percent on March 11 and continued falling for the next several days. By March 16, traffic on the site had fallen by 32 percent.

Point2Homes also tracked Google Trends and found search activity related to homebuying has also fallen. Searches for “real estate” had fallen by over 25 percent between March 9 and March 16, with “homes for sale” searches declining by almost half over the same period. “Houses for sale” decreased in popularity by approximately 40 percent by March 16, but there was a spike in searches around March 14, just before the crisis started hitting home for Canadians and the Canadian economy.

Shifting to 3D space, technology provider ShowingTime found that real estate showings in three provinces have dipped significantly. In Ontario, the average number of weekly showings started falling on March 13. By March 24, the average weekly number of showings had decreased by 28.8 percent.

In Alberta, showings began slowing on March 11. On March 24, the number of showings in the province had shrunk by 56.7 percent.

In Nova Scotia, the only other province being tracked by ShowingTime, showings began their decline on March 10. Two weeks later, their number had fallen by 38.9 percent.

Will a slightly quicker response among buyers in Alberta and Nova Scotia help limit the spread of COVID-19 more effectively than what’s being seen in Ontario? Probably not. But it does imply a level of seriousness that anyone living in Toronto, where groups of people are still meeting in parks and cars are buzzing along most roads – to where? someplace essential? – would find refreshing.

Copyright © 2020 Key Media Pty Ltd