The COVID-19 virus has placed all of us in a situation most of us have never experienced before. As previously mentioned I have been a licensed real estate Broker in Ontario for over 20 years. Like many in our profession I have witnessed numerous ups and downs in the real estate market driven but global economic issues, mortgage rate changes, the tightening up of the lending rules and other circumstances. Never before in our country has real estate been impacted as it has due to a pandemic such as the world is now facing overall.
Currently, real estate in Ontario has been considered an “essential service” due to lobbying by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). The lobbying done by OREA was driven by the fact that at the onset of the COVID-19 virus, there were thousands of real estate transactions across the province that had yet to firm up and or be completed (closed). As REALTORS® our jobs are not fulfilled until transactions are closed hence they often need our ongoing expertise and follow-up with most of us now doing that while working from home. This was has not been the case in some other provinces.
As life goes on and we continue operating business from our home leveraging available technology, it is not business as usual. To ensure real estate remains an “essential service” in Ontario while the war against COVID-19 continue, we are being urged not to trade in real estate either listing properties for sale on behalf of our seller clients or acting on behalf of buyers with their purchases of homes or other properties.
The only exception to this mandate or what constitutes real estate being an “essential service” is as follows:
- We have a client(s) with a vital need to buy, sell or lease a property during this time (in which all safety measures according to health officials must be put in place and communicated) or;
- We have a transaction can be done virtually and/or electronically, to eliminate face-to-face interactions
My entire business career as a real estate Broker is based on and promoted as acting as a trusted advisor to my valued clients. Further, as a professional, myself as well as anyone in the real estate profession have a responsibility to educate our clients as to why this is not the time to list, buy or rent unless it is absolutely essential.
Real estate activities across Ontario fall under provincial legislation namely the Trust in Real Estate Service Act 2019. This legislation which was recently passed in the Ontario legislature to replace the old Real Estate and Business Broker’s Act 2002 is administered across the province by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). In reviewing the current business environment that has been brought forth as the result of COVID-19, RECO has advised that serious sanctions or disciplinary prosecution will be considered if a registrant (licensed REALTOR®) ignores the direction of health officials and blatantly disregards protection of the public. For this reason, members are encouraged to document the necessity of having to transact on behalf of a client during this challenging time.
With respect to COVID-19, the provincial government continues to advise the people of Ontario that the worst is yet to come. We are still months away from seeing the measures implemented to address the virus being relaxed. Our local real estate Association is working hard to keep our members abreast of the current requirements we must follow to ensure that real estate listing and sales activity remains an “essential service” and our clients remain safe in the weeks ahead
Please feel free to Contact Me if you have any questions or concerns relative to your specific real estate situation either now as we fight COVID-19 or in the months ahead.