Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver real estate boards urge suspension of open houses due to coronavirus outbreak

The Toronto Regional and Ontario real estate boards have urged realtors to stop holding open houses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, following a similar move by the Greater Vancouver Area board last week.

The real estate boards of Toronto and Ontario had first brought the idea to existence on Saturday, said Monday that while the decision to hold open houses is going to be up to the realtors and their clients, the board will be able to suppress information about the in-person showings on its listing system and website.

“We’re at a critical phase with this pandemic and we all have to do our part to be successful in confronting this challenge,” TRREB president Michael Collins said.

Most people are aware of the fact that if the majority of the population of Canada were to self isolate the pandemic COVID-19 could quite easily be slowed and the curve would flatten.

The board encourages realtors to use alternatives methods rather than having a public gathering of a open house, they want realtors to use video and virtual tours at an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, as requested by public-health agencies.

The Ontario Real Estate Association also said on Saturday that realtors should hold back on their open houses during Ontario's state of emergency.

“I am calling on all Realtors to cease holding open houses during this crisis and advise their clients to cancel any that are planned,” OREA president Sean Morrison said.

Last Thursday, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver strongly recommended its 14,000 Realtors not hold open houses based on comments from government authorities.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario, which regulates the Realtor profession, said in an update Monday that it also recommends an end to open houses, except when “absolutely necessary,” but has stopped short of banning them.

According to a Realtor with Re/Max Urban Toronto, they had noticed a "significant downturn" in activity for the Toronto region in recent days, based on MLS data.

The numbers in Toronto are showing that although the sales between March 1 and 19 were up 20 per cent year-over-year, for the March 16-19 stretch, sales were down 16 per cent year-over-year. These numbers prove that as COVID-19 worsens, and the real estate boards begin to take measures to fight it, the real estate market weakens.

The amount of showings that were happening in Toronto had also decreased.

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Summarized by: Onur Gul on instagram at @onurgulfilm