April 29 updates in green. When I first wrote this article, we had been socially isolating for just over a week. No one knew what it was going to be like, or how long it would last. While we still don't know the answer to how long this will last, we have a pretty good sense of what it's like, and we've gotten pretty used to sanitizing, wearing masks and staying physically distant from each other. Agents have found creative ways to show homes online, and reduce the number of properties that are actually shown in person. No matter what's happening in the market, buying or selling a home is a personal decision, that only you can make.  We are here to help our clients in any way that we can, but we do want to let you know there is good reason to hold off buying to selling real estate right now unless you absolutely need to. I can certainly understand feeling the need to buy or sell real estate right now if:
  • you have (or are about to have) nowhere to live
  • you bought a new home and still need to sell your old one
  • you can't afford your mortgage payments
  • your tenant isn't paying rent
  • you think you'll miss out on a deal
But if you can hold off, you probably should. This is an unprecedented global event, and no one knows how it will all play out. Things are changing by the hour. If you're looking for an elusive deal, you should seriously consider whether risking your health is worth looking for a deal that's probably not there. If you have a tenant, you probably will not be able to get any showings through, and will likely have issues at closing. If you can't afford your mortgage payments, contact your lender and see what you can arrange - some lenders will defer your payments.

A Changing Landscape

As of this writing, there is nothing prohibiting the practice of real estate in Alberta (I will update this post with changes when needed), but, the practice has drastically changed over the past week or so. We are still working with clients, but have implemented some changes to our day to day business, some of which are included below. The industry is doing far more paperlessly and virtually than ever - all of our meetings are online and we've been paperless since 2006.


Our Association has temporarily changed a rule, allowing homes to be listed in the MLS® system database for up to 30 days without allowing showings (previously the rule was showings had to be allowed within 24 hours), so even though there are lots of listings to look at online, some sellers are not allowing showings at this time. Open houses were banned in Alberta on Monday (March 23) by the Alberta Real Estate Association.


There are some creative solutions to showing homes over facetime or video chat of some sort. Almost all of our listings have 3D tours that allow you to walk through them on your computer or mobile device. Video chat and online meetings are being used to discuss offers, listings, first-time buyer presentations and more. Digital signatures allow contracts to be signed remotely. If you want to see something in person, expect to be asked a series of COVID-19 questions at the very least, and expect that you won't be able to see all the homes you want to see. We are recommending sellers have hand sanitizer at the property and leave all lights on and doors open.  We also recommend disinfecting the property after each showing.


Expect deals to take longer to put together, more time is needed for conditions to be removed. If an in-person appraisal is needed you might not be able to proceed. Some home inspectors are temporarily shutting down operations, I expect more will follow suit in the coming days; if a home inspection does occur many are asking the buyers and their agent not to attend the inspection. We do not recommend buying a home without getting a professional inspection.


In terms of closing deals, it's still possible in most cases - land titles is still open. Some real estate lawyers are meeting with clients over video chat, and then passing documents back and forth through car windows for signing. But what if a buyer is laid off after removing conditions and before possession? What if one of the parties to a transaction contracts COVID-19? What if the virus is transmitted to or from a buyer during a showing - are you opening yourself up to a lawsuit? There are so many moving parts, and so much change occurring on a daily basis, it is time for caution when it comes to real estate in Alberta.  It's time to keep yourself and others safe. Posted by Liv Real Estate on
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