An on-going resource hub for those interested in how COVID-19 is affecting homeowners, those currently involed in a real estate transaction, and those interested in buying & selling real estate in the near future.
What can take place?
Premier Doug Ford has declared Real Estate and some real estate related industries to be "essential services". This does not, however, mean that it is "business as usual" for the real estate industry. The industry is allowed to keep operating for the following reasons and instances:
- Transactions that have taken place are allowed to continue towards closing and typical pre-closing activities are allowed to take place (such as inspections, post-inspection remedying, walk throughs, etc.) with proper social distancing precautions being taken.
- If a party has sold their house and not yet purchased a new home, they are allowed to search for and enter into a transaction for a new home. Likewise, a party that has bought a new home but not yet sold their is allowed to place their home on the market.
What precautions are expected to be adhered to?
The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and many local real estate boards, including the Realtors Association of Hamilton & Burlington (RAHB), have urgently recommended the following changes to standard practice if one must proceed with new or ongoing transactions:
- No face-to-face meetings or consultations - remote only
- No agent and office public hours
- No Open Houses
- No in-person showings, praticularly of tenant-occupied homes
Specifically, what is changing to allow real estate to continue operating safely, from a public health perspective, albeit restricted?
Thanks to technology, we are so fortunate to be able to offer a number of tools to keep consumers at home as much as possible, as well as realtors, in those cases where "the show must go on", such as:
- Virtual Tours / Open Houses - video walk-throughs of the entire home
- Virtual Meetings via platforms such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype
- Interactive floor plans and "doll houses"
- Remote contract signings
My brokerage has also come up with some clauses to cover instances that may be affected by COVID-19, such as:
- Pre-showing questionnaire required to be completed by the Buyer(s) and their REALTOR to screen for potential virus exposure
- Preview video tours done by your REALTOR, either recorded or live
- Home inspections done by the inspector alone, report emailed, video conference set up for discussion of report
- Buyer clause specifically worded to allow a buyer to make an offer on a home conditional upon inspecting it at a later date
- Pre-showing questionnaire -requesting the seller complete the questionnaire screening for potential
Most lendings institutions have offered options (qualification may be required) for mortgage payment deferments of up to 6 months. Here are some aspects of that program:
- There is no clear policy from any one lender. Each lender will make their call on a case by case basis.
- Some banks MAY be automatically approving these deferrals, but it is best to contact your lender directly.
- This is NOT an interest-free program. You will have to continue paying interest on the 6 months of deferred payments.
- If you are considering postponing your mortgage payments but have not yet confirmed this with your lender, DO NOT miss any payments. It will likely have a negative impact on your credit rating.
- If you have recently purchased a home that has not yet closed and have been laid off, you will need to check with your lender on your mortgage's status. RBC, for example, has indictaed it WILL fund all firm deals.
Here is a list of many of those lenders and the numbers they have indicated to call if you need further assistance: