Indeed, the COVID-19 virus smacked into Ottawa’s real estate industry just as it was scaling rarely seen peaks. Although real estate trading services may continue, this is clearly not “business as usual.” Many aspects of real estate transactions like meetings, property viewings, and open houses require interacting with numerous people.
Ontario remains under a state of emergency, and Realtors have a duty to follow the direction of health officials to minimize direct physical interaction.
Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, rent out, or lease property, it is important to work cooperatively with your real estate professional to decide what precautions or adjustments you may need to make to keep yourself and others healthy. With physical distancing, it is important to minimize visits in order to minimize the risk of infection for you and others.
Possible solutions include:
- Using virtual tours, 360 walk-throughs, mobile measurement applications and digital floorplans instead of in-person viewings
- Screening potential buyers before scheduling viewings
- Placing conditions on viewings, such as the need wear masks and gloves
- Creating a plan for disinfecting your home after each viewing
- Using electronic documents and signatures, instead of paper documents
- Using electronic funds transfers instead of certified cheques
- Communicating with clients via written communications, smartphone technology applications, and video conferencing, instead of face-to-face
Embracing digital technology is essential in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
What About Tenant Occupied Properties?
Tenant-occupied properties pose particular challenges. Though tenants and landlords have respective rights under the Residential Tenancies Act, administered by the Landlord and Tenant Board, particular attention must be paid to the tenant’s health and safety.
Though buyers may want to see the home in-person before committing, you could reduce the number of in-person showings required by asking buyers to assess their interest through virtual options first. If they remain interested, you could work out a plan to safely view the property. Viewings should only occur with the tenant’s consent, however.
Savings for Home Buyers
With the Bank of Canada lowering its interest rates, the cut could mean significant savings for home buyers.
Banks may choose not to pass on the additional savings because it means more profit for them. However, the BoC is hoping the major banks will cut their prime lending rates.
The New Mortgage Stress Test
With new changes were suspended until further notice, but they would be coming to the Mortgage Stress test in April, and it would be interesting to see how the Bank of Canada rate drop might impact the qualifying rate in case they stay like this once the new stress test does come into effect.
Under the new stress test, the rate will be the weekly median five-year fixed insured mortgage rate plus 2%. A few percentage points can translate into thousands of dollars in savings for the borrower.
Overall, it’s a great time to cash in on a lower mortgage rate if you were on the fence about purchasing. It is also a great time to sell, supply may drive housing prices up in some areas. Consult with your real estate professional for a complete view of market conditions in your area.