Buying real estate is a challenging task at any given time, during the pandemic the process has changed drastically, there are many more obstacles to overcome, restrictions and regulations to follow.
Certain advice apply to buyers and sellers alike, while other aspects of the transactions differ significantly.
Be aware that some aspects of the transactions may take longer due to closures and general difficulties of the situation, prepare and protect yourself accordingly.
Restrictions and Regulations.
In addition to advice issued by Health Canada all restrictions and regulations by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as real estate governing bodies and the safety measures implemented by the brokerages must be followed. The specifics are currently as follows:
- Open houses are prohibited
- Travel in one vehicle with the clients is prohibited
- Direct physical interaction must be kept to an absolute minimum
- Offices are closed to clients, only essential staff is allowed
Alternative Smart Solutions.
We are encouraged use digital technology as much as possible, the following are the tools at our arsenal which should be implemented:
- Use of electronic signatures is required, the electronic signatures are acceptable when signing offers, agreements, mortgage and legal documents.
- Payments should be made electronically by wire or email transfers instead of bank drafts or certified cheques
- Meetings and communication should be done via smart technology such as zoom, messenger, skype, smart phones etc.
- Showings can be arranged via smart technology, the agent can do the video walk through the property without the buyer present, with the buyer using zoom or another app to see the details of the property, ask questions and discuss pros and cons.
Buyers are required to sign disclaimer forms related to their health, recent travels, contacts with other who may experience symptoms or who have travelled. The disclaimer forms will be required by the brokerage representing the buyers, as well as the brokerage representing the sellers. This is very important document which must be taken seriously. The Buyers Consent form must be completed prior to showing the property.
Clauses and Conditions.
Multiple clauses have been introduced recently to help accommodate the transaction and protect the interest of the buyers, the following are samples of clauses that can be used:
Conditional Upon Viewing – Could be used for clients that are serious about a property and prepare an offer prior to viewing.
Conditional Service Interruptions – on service disruptions of Land Registry Office, financial institutions, banking system, governments, etc.
If in person showings are required please follow these procedures:
- Do not attempt the showings if you show any signs of illness, have been in contact with anyone shows any signs of illness, are required to quarantine.
- Do not attempt any showings if your immune system is at risk.
- The number of participants should be limited to a minimum, 2 people max.
- Do not bring children, elder, or anyone with a compromised immune system.
- Please wear masks or face covering.
- Please wear gloves.
- Please sanitize your hands before and after the showing.
- Please do not touch anything, that includes light switches, door handles, cabinets.
- Do not use washrooms.
- Keep distance from each other.
- Sellers may have their own additional requirements.
Some condominium boards implemented their own regulations and restrictions regarding showing of the unit, please consult with the seller and the property manager before attempting the in person showing.
Mortgage pre-approvals should be obtained every time the buyer is ready to purchase a property, in the crisis situation proper financing is even more crucial.
In addition to obtaining mortgage pre-approval please further assess your financials and earnings:
- Is your employment/business secure.
- What affect does covid-19 have on your industry.
- If applicable, advise your boss or manager that you are buying a property and see if they can confirm if your employment is in jeopardy.
- If one of the spouses/partners loses the job temporarily, is the other spouse/partner able to secure the financing on a single income.
Home inspectors are allowed to perform inspections of the properties, in normal circumstances apart from the inspector the buyer, buyer representative, and the seller representative would be present. In the crisis situation due to requirements for social distancing the number of people at the property should be limited to the minimum, the inspector may ask everyone to leave the property. Some inspectors have decided to withhold their services during the crisis to help with the spread of the virus.
Selling or Buying Tenanted Properties.
Please refer to Renting Changes During Covid-19.
When buying and selling there are guidelines and recommendations provided but no specific rules (as of now) prohibiting the sale or in person showings.
For buyers and sellers there are many questions to be answered, among many will the property be empty on the closing day.
City Building/Other Departments Closures.
The City building departments are currently closed, it obviously affects the building permits or anything related to the zoning etc, why this could be important to the buyers? It is our experience that the best way to get information regarding the specific property was to visit the proper department in person, it would be especially important if the house was renovated and we don’t have the proof if the permits were issued and closed, discuss potential developments on the neighbouring properties, see if the property falls under any other authorities such as historical, conservation, ecological etc. Same issue applies to all other offices which we would typically visit for a property which may require additional due diligence (such as rural properties, century homes etc).
Confirm Your Realtor is Healthy.
Before each meeting with your agent ask for a confirmation in writing (text, email or other digital form) that your realtor is free of covid-19 symptoms, have not been in contact with anyone who have experienced the symptoms, is not required to quarantine, or otherwise has no reasons to suspect he or she is infected with the virus.
We are here to help in this difficult situation, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.