BUSINESS
03/24/2020 18:04 EDT | Updated 03/24/2020 18:08 EDT

Ontario Real Estate Association Urges Agents To Cease All Face-To-Face Business

Even as the coronavirus was shutting down the economy in early March, Toronto house prices were on the rise.

Roberto Machado Noa via Getty Images
In this file photo, a Century 21 for-sale sign is seen on a lawn in Toronto, Oct. 12. 2016. The Ontario Real Estate Association is calling for an end to person-to-person contact in home sales.

If you’re planning to buy a home in the next little while, you will likely have to do it sight unseen.

Just a few days after the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) urged its members to cancel all open houses, the group is now urging agents to stop all person-to-person business.

That includes “open houses, agent and public office hours, and in-person showings, particularity of tenant-occupied homes,” OREA said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Watch: Real estate industry creates workaround in age of coronavirus. Story continues below.

 

As part of its state of emergency, the Ontario government declared real estate an essential service, allowing home sales to continue. The move was made primarily to allow those who have already bought and need to sell, or those who have already sold and need to buy, to finish their transactions.

But “this does not mean business as usual,” OREA president Sean Morrison said in a statement, urging the real estate industry to “do our part to help limit the spread of COVID-19.”

“While clients who may decide to host private showings during this time are making the decision for themselves, tenants often have no choice in the matter, putting the health of all those involved at risk.”

If someone needs to sell urgently during a crisis, real estate agents “have the tools and knowledge at their disposal to do virtual showings,” OREA said.

Real estate activity does seem to be ongoing, crisis or not ― at least in Toronto. Home sales there were still stronger in the first half of March than they were in the same period a year earlier, according to Toronto agent John Pasalis, as cited at the Toronto Star.

Prices were 14.5 per cent higher than a year earlier. The supply of homes for sales was also higher, although by much less than the month before. Many sellers want to sell immediately, Pasalis said.