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How to buy and sell a house in the time of coronavirus, from virtual tours to hazmat home inspections

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Sales and listings in some of Canada’s biggest housing markets have slowed dramatically over the past few weeks as social distancing measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 have taken hold, putting an end to any hopes of a strong spring real estate season.

In Toronto, for example, sales have dropped from 759 in the first week of March to just 299 in the fourth week of the month, according to data compiled by Konfidis Brokerage.

While many would-be buyers and sellers are clearly waiting for the storm to blow over, those who need to start or complete a real estate transaction will be heartened to know that realtors have been declared  essential workers and that, so far, land registry offices continue to function.

Many of the normal steps in the homebuying process have been disrupted

That said, many of the normal steps in the homebuying process have been disrupted.

Buyers, for instance, may have a difficult time visiting a listed dwelling in person. Open houses are being strongly discouraged, and visits, while not prohibited, are becoming increasingly rare for health reasons.

In their place, digital workarounds are gaining traction. Virtual home tours have been around for years, but their use has not been widespread and research has found weak evidence that such marketing methods have contributed to higher prices or lower time on the market. But that was before social distancing, which has launchen them from good-to-have to must-have features of a listing.

Have a question about how the coronavirus pandemic affects you? Drop us a line at FPcoronavirus@postmedia.com.

The option to make or accept an offer digitally has been in place for years. It may not be the same as signing the forms on your breakfast table with the realtor by your side, but digital signatures make the process more efficient.

Applying for, qualifying and securing financing has also long been available digitally. Lenders have even introduced smartphone apps to facilitate that process.

One hitherto digitally unmitigated risk for buyers is the home inspection. For condominiums, physical examinations are not a significant concern because buyers rely on the condominium’s status certificate, which speaks to the building’s physical and financial health.

For the rest, the home inspection is critical to protect buyers from major repairs of undisclosed structural shortcomings that may not be obvious in virtual or physical tours. Home inspectors are functioning. Though the inspections are down by 50 to 70 per cent, according Enio Ferri of Key Home Inspections.

On site, home inspectors wear a hazmat suit and latex gloves with full respirators

The new normal in home inspections is that, prior to the visit, inspectors collect information about the health and recent travel records of the residents of the dwelling they are about visit to plan accordingly. On site, the inspectors wear a hazmat suit and latex gloves with full respirators and not just a mask. Post inspection communication with the clients is done electronically.

The logistics involved in closing a deal are more intricate as they involve other entities, including real estate lawyers who oversee the exchange of funds and house keys. Until only last month, lawyers would often courier cheques to the other party. This practice is going digital in a big way.

Real estate law firms are often set up as a “bill payee” with the banks. Buyers and sellers can instruct their banks to e-transfer funds to their lawyers’ escrow accounts. Lawyers can also transfer funds electronically to their counterparts. Therefore, an important consideration for buyers and sellers in selecting a law firm is to ensure they are set up to process funds electronically. Similarly, the brokerages must also be equipped to receive commissions digitally.

Transferring keys to buyers, a closing day tradition, is also being disrupted as some are reluctant to involve couriers in the process. Instead, some real estate firms are providing lockboxes to sellers so that buyers can directly obtain the keys on the premises.

The sale of tenanted dwellings poses an additional layer of uncertainty. With a freeze on evictions, a tenant in a for-sale dwelling might not agree to leave — or even pay the rent if facing hardship. The buyer could, as a result, be denied occupancy even though the buyer and seller may have met all conditions.

Anyone who has yet to seal a deal should insist on including clauses that indemnify them if a deal fails to close.

Additional clauses must make provisions for the digital signing of documents and the electronic transfer of funds. Furthermore, new terms should specify the circumstances (e.g., temporary closing of the land registry or the financial institutions) under which the closing date can be automatically extended.

A failed transaction can set off a chain-reaction forcing other transactions to collapse even when buyers and sellers involved have fulfilled all obligations. Such unexpected last-minute developments will require contingency planning for all involved.

Making the biggest purchase of your life under these circumstances may not work for everyone, but thanks to modern technology it is still possible.

Murtaza Haider is a professor of Real Estate Management at Ryerson University. Stephen Moranis is a real estate industry veteran. They can be reached at www.hmbulletin.com.

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Rentrée scolaire: Le masque obligatoire pour tous les écoliers de 5e année et plus

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Aujourd’hui avait lieu l’annonce officielle du plan gouvernemental quant à la rentrée scolaire au Québec, alors que la pandémie de la COVID-19 est toujours parmi nous — malgré les nombres de cas qui sont somme toute stables depuis un moment.

À la suite de la présentation des consignes de la santé publique en ce qui a trait à la rentrée, c’est maintenant confirmé: le masque sera bel et bien obligatoire dès la 5e année du primaire pour tous les élèves de la province, tel qu’annoncé plus tôt aujourd’hui, lundi 10 août, par le ministre de l’Éducation, Jean-François Roberge, lors d’une conférence de presse à la Place des Arts de Montréal.

Toutefois, le masque (ou couvre-visage) ne sera pas obligatoire dans les salles de classe, mais devra être porté dans tous les espaces communs de l’établissement, comme les halls d’entrée, les corridors, les gymnases et la cafétéria.

Il faudra également le porter lors des déplacements en transport scolaire, comme dans les transports publics (bus, métros, etc).

Finalement, en ajout à ce règlement, dès le 24 août, tous les enfants de 10 ans et plus devront désormais obligatoirement porter un masque (couvre-visage) dans les lieux publics.

 

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Le masque sera obligatoire pour certaines écoles privées à la rentrée scolaire!

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23 photos sexy de Kylie Jenner pour souligner son 23e anniversaire!

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Kylie Jenner fête ses 23 ans aujourd’hui!

La célèbre femme d’affaires a vu le jour à Los Angeles le 10 août 1997!

Passionnée de mode et de beauté, la jeune femme est l’une des personnalités les plus suivies sur les réseaux sociaux avec plus 189 millions d’abonnés sur Instagram.

Afin de souligner cette journée toute spéciale, on a pensé vous présenter ses looks les plus sexy sur Instagram.

Voici 23 portraits sensuels de la star :

























Bonne fête Kylie Jenner! On lui souhaite une magnifique journée entourée de sa famille et ses proches!

La vedette de téléréalité s’est récemment offert un voyage de rêve dans le désert avec ses meilleurs amis et sa petite fille Stormi. Découvrez maintenant les plus belles photos des vacances de la star!

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Jason Derulo casse les dents de Will Smith! [VIDÉOS]

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Jason Derulo casse accidentellement des dents à Will Smith lors d’une pratique de golf.

Le chanteur a publié une vidéo sur les réseaux sociaux où il semble avoir cassé quelques dents à son bon ami.

Jason Derulo et Will Smith se trouvaient dans un simulateur de golf. Le premier s’exerçait, alors que le second lui enseignait les rudiments du sport.

Tout à coup, au moment où Jason Derulo s’apprêtait à s’élancer, Will Smith s’est approché pour lui corriger quelque chose dans son swing. C’est à ce moment que Smith semble s’être pris un coup de fer au visage.

Loin d’être choqué, ou très peu blessé, Will Smith était très amusé de la situation, montrant même à la caméra son nouveau sourire édenté.

De son côté, Jason Derulo a commenté ainsi la mésaventure.

«Je n’aime pas ce jeu!».

Will Smith a de son côté mentionné :

«Je devrais arrêter de l’inviter».

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