Brokerage Decision, But Carefully Consider the Risks

It is understandable that real estate open houses and showings are of concern to many, due to the uncertainty we're faced in dealing with COVID-19. The real estate regulator in Ontario, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), has issued a guidance on open houses and showings that you can read here: https://www.reco.on.ca/covid-19/

It is important that we all remain informed about the coronavirus (COVID-19), and to that end, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) continues to monitor COVID-19 developments closely. The well-being of TRREB Members, their clients and TRREB staff is our utmost priority. 

As RECO has pointed out, real estate trades typically involve a significant amount of personal contact, particularly during showings, open houses, and in-person client communications. This includes REALTORS® and their clients, home buyers and sellers, and businesses. However, in the current environment, public health authorities are strongly encouraging social distancing. This is advice that should be taken seriously by every professional that works with the public.

 

Consider the Health of Others

RECO's advice echoes earlier advice issued by TRREB. Both organizations have emphasized that, as registered professionals, it is the duty of Realtors to support their clients in making an informed choice about hosting or attending open houses and showings. This is a real estate brokerage decision that will have to be considered, taking into account the health of clients, Realtor staff and the community.

Realtors need to speak openly and honestly with clients so that they can weigh the risks in their community. It is important to heed the advice of health authorities (local, provincial and federal). This is particularly important for clients who are in high-risk groups, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. See Health Canada guidelines on prevention tips.

Realtors are reminded that there are alternative online and virtual marketing opportunities for sellers that can easily be accessed by buyers.

As RECO has advised, "though it is your client’s decision whether to hold an open house, you can decline to proceed if you are not comfortable with the risk to your health. As always, you should discuss the services you are prepared to offer with your clients."

 

Keep a two-metre radius

If Realtors and clients do interact, it's a good idea to follow Health Canada's guideline to keep a two-metre radius from others when out in public, and to practise "social distancing." Realtors and their clients should stay in isolation if you're showing any symptoms of being sick.

Realtors should consider contacting clients by email, phone or using other forms of technology, such as video calls.

If Realtors and their clients feel the need to host an open house, showing or have an in-person meeting with clients, consider the following tips from TRREB, RECO, CREA & Other Real Estate Organizations

The regulator (RECO) has advised that before a showing or open house, you should seek to confirm whether any occupants of the property (owners or tenants) are ill, under self-isolation, have recently travelled out of the country or may have been exposed to COVID-19.

  • Check with your brokerage regarding any special requirements it may have put in place.
  • Encourage people viewing the property to follow handwashing and sanitizing guidelines established by health officials.
  • Use disinfecting wipes to clean commonly-shared surfaces like door handles.
  • Take steps to discourage those viewing the property from touching any surfaces or items in the home.
  • Consider limiting the number of people in the home at any one time and practise social distancing, as advised by local health officials.
  • Refrain from greeting others with handshakes or hugs.
  • Encourage clients to thoroughly clean and disinfect the house after open houses or viewings.
  • Request clients or attendees to notify their Realtor if they become ill within two weeks of an open house or showing. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, communicate this with the homeowner and other attendees if possible.
  • Keep a list of everyone that attended the property, including the date and time and their contact information. In the event of an infection, you may be asked to provide the information to local public health authorities so they may investigate further. Note that, under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), this information can only be used for the purposes for which it was collected.

TRREB continues to encourage all Members to follow the advice of public health authorities and exercise reasonable precautions as needed to ensure the safety of all Members and their clients. CREA and NAR have published resources that TRREB Members can also refer to in determining appropriate measures for their respective operations. Those resources can be found here (CREA) and here (NAR).

 

Looking for more information surrounding COVID-19?

For a full list of prevention tips, please visit the Health Canada website.

You should also be mindful of the following advisory on Enhanced Public Health Measures for COVID-19 from the Office of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding travel, large events and other related matters.

 

Ontario Ministry of Health
https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus#section-0

 

Toronto Public Health
https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/diseases-medications-vaccines/coronavirus/

 

Public Health Agency of Canada
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

 

World Health Organization
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

 

Centres for Disease Control (CDC) - United States
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

 

We are monitoring developments closely, and will communicate any additional measures as they become necessary.

Thank you for your understanding as we all deal with these challenging times.

It is important that we all remain informed about the coronavirus (COVID-19), and to that end, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) continues to monitor COVID-19 developments closely. The well-being of TRREB Members, their clients and TRREB staff is our utmost priority. 

REALTORS® engage in interactions with clients throughout their day-to-day business, and we have suggested ways to protect yourself during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please take the time to review these suggested best practices which apply to Realtors and their clients, home buyers and sellers, and businesses.

We have also included advice from other public organizations about what you need to know, which areas are affected and the steps you should be taking to protect yourself and others.

Please only visit the various TRREB offices across the GTA if it is essential for you to be there on necessary business that cannot be handled via telephone, email or TRREB’s other online channels, including e-Commerce, the online REALTOR® STORE and Help Desk call centre.

These are suggested measures, and Realtors and their clients should speak with their Brokerage for advice and direction.

 

How can I protect myself as a Realtor, Home Buyer/Seller or Business Client?

Before meeting with clients, it is advisable that Realtors ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of COVID-19. Realtors should use their best judgment, and may want to avoid driving clients or interacting in person with clients who show signs of illness or reveal recent travel outside Canada to areas of increased risk of COVID-19; and please note that these areas continue to be updated as the situation on COVID-19 continues to evolve.

If Realtors and clients do interact, it's a good idea to follow Health Canada guidelines on prevention tips.

In addition, Health Canada suggests you keep a two-metre radius from others when out in public, and to practise "social distancing," and Realtors and their clients should stay in isolation if you're showing any symptoms of being sick.

 

Interacting with Clients

Realtors should consider contacting clients by email, phone or using other forms of technology, such as video calls. These best practices can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and allow Realtors to remain in contact with clients and avoid the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

If Realtors do have an in-person meeting with clients, they should ensure that they and their clients partake in prevention measures such as thorough handwashing with soap and water or disinfecting with an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol prior to meeting. 

 

Open Houses

This is a real estate Brokerage decision that will have to be considered, taking into account the health of clients, Realtor staff and the community. Tuning into the news to remain informed about COVID-19 will allow you to better understand the severity of the risk in your area.

Realtors should speak openly and honestly with Sellers about the pros and cons of holding an open house and consider alternative marketing opportunities. This will assist in determining the risks of holding an open house with Sellers or Buyers.

If Realtors and their clients feel the need to host an open house, these tips should help:

  • Use disinfecting wipes to clean commonly-shared surfaces like door handles;
  • Restrict open house attendance to one group at a time;
  • Ask visitors to limit physically touching items in the home;
  • Refrain from greeting others with handshakes or hugs;
  • Encourage clients to thoroughly clean and disinfect the house after open houses or viewings;
  • Request clients or attendees to notify their Realtor if they become ill within two weeks of an open house or showing. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, communicate this with the homeowner and other attendees if possible; and
  • Avoid sharing items such as phones, tablets or laptops.

Realtors can also propose alternative marketing opportunities for the Seller's consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property as a means of respecting current government health advisories in effect.

 

How about TRREB MLS® Rules and related matters?

TRREB's MLS® Rules are in place to ensure compliance and the orderly operation of the MLS® System; however, we recognize that we are in unprecedented times, and the situation is changing rapidly with each passing day. During these extraordinary circumstances, any complaints received by TRREB regarding compliance with the MLS® Rules will be assessed in light of directives provided by government and public health authorities.

TRREB encourages all Members to follow the advice of public health authorities and exercise reasonable precautions as needed to ensure the safety of all Members and their clients. CREA and NAR have published resources that TRREB Members can also refer to in determining appropriate measures for their respective operations. Those resources can be found here (CREA) and here (NAR).

 

What else is TRREB doing?

In keeping with best practices and being diligent to minimize any exposure, the following courses of action have been taken by TRREB, with further measures possible, in light of the dynamic nature of COVID-19 developments.

  1. All in-person classes hosted by the Professional Development Department have been suspended. Where possible, online webinars will continue to be made available.
  2. Access to the various TRREB offices is unavailable until further notice. TRREB is still operational and open for business during regular hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Members can still contact TRREB by telephone, email or TRREB's other online channels, including e-Commerce, the online REALTOR® STORE, Help Desk call centre, etc.
  3. Arbitration and Professional Standards hearings will be suspended indefinitely until further notice.
  4. A decision on the timing of our annual REALTOR® QUEST Conference and Trade Show will be made in the coming weeks.

 

Looking for more information surrounding COVID-19?

For a full list of prevention tips, please visit the Health Canada website.

You should also be mindful of the following advisory on Enhanced Public Health Measures for COVID-19 from the Office of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding travel, large events and other related matters.

Ontario Ministry of Health
https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus#section-0

Toronto Public Health
https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/diseases-medications-vaccines/coronavirus/

Public Health Agency of Canada
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

World Health Organization
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Centres for Disease Control (CDC) – United States
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

We are monitoring developments closely, and will communicate any additional measures as they become necessary.

Thank you for your understanding as we all deal with these challenging times.

 

Michael Collins
TRREB President

In line with the forecast contained in the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s recently released Market Year in Review and Outlook Report, TRREB President Michael Collins announced a very strong year-over-year sales and price growth in February 2020.

A series of charts summarizing key residential statistics for the GTA, including an affordability indicator and time series for price, new listings and sales.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is applauding Minister Thompson and the provincial government for the successful passage of Bill 145, the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2020. This significant effort will help enhance professional standards, create a more fair and efficient business environment, and better protect consumers dealing with those who trade in real estate in Ontario, including REALTORS®.

A series of charts summarizing key residential statistics for the GTA, including an affordability indicator and time series for price, new listings and sales.

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins announces the release of TRREB’s fifth annual Market Year in Review and Outlook Report. The research and report findings will be presented at a morning event consisting of multiple presentations on the housing market, related transportation infrastructure and the underlying economic drivers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).0120

We are excited to announce the launch of our new name, logo and colour scheme to represent the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board – who we are and what we do. The name has been revised from the Toronto Real Estate Board to reflect the regional nature of TREB that has been in place since 2002.

Toronto Real Estate Board President Michael Collins announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,367 condominium apartment sales through TREB’s MLS® System in the fourth quarter of 2019. This result was up by 3.8 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.

Toronto Real Estate Board President Michael Collins announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 6,758 condominium apartment rentals through TREB’s MLS® System in the fourth quarter of 2019. This result was up by 11.8 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.