Real Estate Processes in Ontario and British Columbia During COVID-19

Necessity is the mother of invention.” – Platon

This adage has proven true in the overall response to how the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is assisting real estate professionals to continue doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the onset of public health guidelines and restrictions, REALTORS® have found ways to adapt and implemented new safety practices to better serve their clients and maintain their business. 

Today, we’ll look at how the real estate profession in Ontario and British Columbia are reopening according to provincial guidelines for consumers and REALTORS®.

Please note: the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve. Visit the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 page for the latest information and follow the current recommendations of your local and provincial/territorial public health officials.

Physical distancing of two metres and handwashing are still highly recommended and effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Ontario—Stage 3

Ontario is gradually reopening businesses, services and public spaces using a regional and staged approach.

Much of the province entered Stage 3 of the reopening plan on July 17. Nearly all businesses and public spaces can reopen in these regions, as long as businesses can adhere to public health and workplace safety restrictions. Some high-risk venues and activities remain closed or face stricter rules.

In-person open houses are allowed under the Stage 3 guidelines but gathering limits must be followed.

The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors recommends home inspectors can conduct an inspection while the interested parties (seller, buyer or REALTOR®) remain outside, while emphasizing the need for clean hands or wearing gloves, and cleaning or disinfecting tools after each inspection.

REALTORS®and consumers can view full COVID-19 real estate guidelines for Ontario from the OREA and the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).

In April, the Ontario Government prohibited in-person open houses to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, CREA was quick to introduce a new live stream feature to listings, allowing REALTORS® to advertise their live stream open houses.

In addition, continues to support more than 10 video platforms for video and 3D virtual tours.

According to research from the Ontario Real Estate Association, 40% of Ontarians would consider buying a home virtually, while 1 in 4 active buyers say the pandemic has changed what they are looking for in their next home.

Real estate transactions and signatures can still be conveniently obtained electronically between REALTOR® and client using CREA WEBForms®.

British Columbia—Phase 3

British Columbia is also taking a gradual approach to reopening. Their Restart Plan includes four phases. They are currently in Phase 3.

Phase 3 allows many businesses and institutions to reopen, with restrictions.

The real estate industry was included in Phase 2. Changes included: appointment only viewings, maintaining physical distancing, handwashing and sanitizing policies, and using virtual services and technology when possible.

While electronic transactions and digital signatures continue to provide quick and convenient methods when doing business, in-person open houses are not included as part of the restarting of Phase 3.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association created a resource page to guide REALTORS® in matters such as conducting transactions, supporting clients and economic forecasting.

For more information on real estate protocols and guidance in Phase 3 in British Columbia, please visit Work Safe BC’s website.

To stay in the know, visit our resource page What REALTORS Should Know About COVID-19 and share our consumer COVID-19 hub with your clients. Stay tuned for information on other markets, or visit your local board or association’s website.

While information related to the efforts to mitigate the outbreak of COVID-19 is constantly evolving, we recommend REALTORS® follow the guidelines and precautions set by Canada’s public health authorities and local public health officials. See Health Canada’s website for comprehensive coverage.

Kimberly Driscoll is CREA’s Marketing Coordinator. Prior to joining CREA, Kimberly worked for an investment firm for 10 years and spent one-year teaching English in Seoul, South Korea, and exploring Asia. When not at the office, Kimberly can be found practicing yoga and planning her next travel adventure.

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