How Canadian Real Estate Can Continue During Coronavirus

COVID-19 has hit 2020 like a wrecking ball, slowly making its way across borders. Social distancing has us all pressing pause, letting go of priorities in favour of time spent indoors, connected only though our screens. Alas, in the real estate market, even amid a global pandemic, there are still sellers who need to sell, and buyers who need to buy.

Lucky for us, in this age of technological glory, real estate agents have access to some great solutions to ensure that processes remain safe, and transactions can continue to take place. This too will pass, and in the meantime, we can all use a little creativity to ensure that our brief pauses don’t turn into a full stop.

Great News for Buyers

Finally, a silver lining to COVID-19 mark on the markets: if financially possible, it can be a great time to buy a home with interest rates being the lowest we have seen.

In response to the viral outbreak, banks worldwide have been cutting interest rates. The Bank of Canada cut the interest rate for Canadians by a full percentage point earlier this month. As a result, prospective home buyers looking to get a mortgage can now expect to borrow at a decreased rate. With fixed term mortgage rates also on the decline, home buyers have the flexibility to borrow more and aim for a higher home price or get a better mortgage rate and have less expensive mortgage payments.

So, with buyers in a good position to buy, how are real estate agents helping to make home sales happen, particularly in the wake of temporary social distancing?

Leverage Technology for Real Estate!

Big advances in technology have ignited a fundamental shift in the real estate industry, and it is now easier than ever to gain a wealth of knowledge about a home, condo, townhouse or any listing from the online listing alone.

Floor plans, detailed descriptions, panoramic pictures, and video tours allow the buyer to get a good feel for a home, before ever setting foot within the property.

With a greater segment of the population glued to their screens during isolation measures, there could be a marked increase in recreational and serious buyers browsing the online marketplace. Agents will be ensuring more than ever that their online listings are as detailed and alluring as possible.

These tools will help the real estate market move online, at least until isolation measures have passed:

  • 360 Virtual Video Tours

More agents are working with photographers specializing in 360 home video tours as a way to create an immersive experience for the home buyer.

By helping to bring the property listing to life, buyers like that they can get a feel for the space without being there. A good virtual video tour is navigable, interactive, and controlled by the viewer. The resolution should be high, and the control tools should be intuitive.

The ultimate goal is to replicate the experience of walking through each room, in person. During COVID-19, 360-home tours are a recommended alternative to an open house.

  • Ditching the Paperwork

We may be hoarding toilet paper supplies, but we can a least give the printer paper a rest by moving to electronic signing methods once you’re ready to sign on the bottom line.

There are a number of downloadable apps available, allowing signatories to sign a PDF or word document directly through your phone or tablet. Many of which real estate agents are already using to facilitate real estate deals.

Limited contact, limited paper. Online signing methods can be encrypted with a tamper-evident seal and audit trail. This ensures the legality of the signed documents and allows you and your agent to view what was signed, and when.

  • Screen-to-Screen Selling

While face-to-face contact is challenged during the period of social distancing, there are other ways to maintain a personal connection with your agent. Video calling tools such as FaceTime and WhatsApp, can help mimic a meeting with your agent more effectively than a phone call, and can also prove to be useful if you wish to view aspects of a property not shown through the listing.

Above all, it’s important that you’re taking precautions to ensure your personal safety, and the safety of others during your home search. And remember that “necessity is the mother of invention”; perhaps some of these temporary adjustments will prove to be viable long-term solutions for the real estate industry.  In the meantime, with a little bit of creativity, real estate agents can maintain their commitments to their clients, in a way that keeps all of our communities safe.  


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POSTPONED – 2020 Annual Kingsway-Lambton United Church Art Show & Sale

Rose Kutzko & The Property Team continue to be a Proud Sponsor of the Annual Kingsway-Lambton United Church Art Show & Sale.

Twenty-three years ago, the Kingsway-Lambton Art Show & Sale was born! Searching for a fundraising event to help support a number of community charities and with the initial professional guidance of Judy Smith of Westmount Gallery, a group of dedicated members of Kingsway-Lambton United Church began inviting established juried artists and young emerging talent to come together for a show and sale. This has grown into a much anticipated spring event, attracting a growing number of art enthusiasts to a day of colour and exuberance, providing an opportunity to meet and learn from the artists and…BUY ART FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE!

Join us on April 4, 2020 at this incredible fundraising event featuring 33 Canadian Artists!



We Are Targeting A Fall Date…

Due to our COVID-19 prevention program, the Art Show and Sale team has decided to postpone this event, originally scheduled for April 4th, 2020.

Further information will follow at a later date. We thank you for your patience and will keep you updated.

Our Commitment During The COVID-19 Crisis – A message from RE/MAX Canada

To our valued customers and real estate consumers,

We know this is a trying and stressful time for all of us in Canada.  Things are changing almost hourly with government recommendations at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels.

At RE/MAX, we want to offer you stability and comfort knowing your real estate needs are still being met in a safe and responsible manner.  On, we continue to offer up-to-the-minute listings, accurate home estimates, and timely, valuable real estate news — especially important at this time.

Rest assured, while we remain open for business, our agents and brokers are taking all necessary precautions as recommended by the various health agencies and government.  

  • Our agents are limiting contact with the general public and will use alternative means of communication wherever possible such as texts, phone calls, and emails
  • We have strongly recommended the postponing of all open houses immediately until a future date where it’s deemed safe
  • Any agents that feel unwell are instructed to self-isolate and not interact with the public
  • Information around hand washing and sanitizing has been circulated with our agents and we are strongly encouraging them to follow all guidelines as outlined by public health officials to help keep themselves and their clients protected
  • RE/MAX offices are reducing hours and seeking alternative technologies to connect with clients and host offer presentations 
  • RE/MAX agents are committed to using technology to help safely deliver the best service possible. This includes virtual tours of the home or digital presentations. 

The strength of our RE/MAX agents is knowing and being a part of your communities.  We are all in this together and remain committed to keeping you and your loved ones safe. 

To those who are already with our RE/MAX agents buying or selling a home, our agents are there for you and if necessary, will make arrangements with you if there are any concerns around illness or potential spread of the virus.

Nothing is more important right now than the health and safety of our colleagues, clients and fellow citizens across Canada.

Check our blog frequently for our updates on how this situation is impacting the real estate market, and we will continue to be here to answer your questions and serve your real estate needs.


Christopher Alexander

EVP & Regional Director of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada

Elton Ash 

Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada


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Top Things Sellers Often Forget to Do Before Showing Their Home

There can be a lot of stress involved when trying to sell your home and one of the biggest factors that is always on a seller’s mind is showing process. While your home is on the market, you never know when a showing is going to be scheduled and therefore sellers must be on their toes in making sure their home is tidy and looks its best to potential buyers. However, with so many things to organize before a showing, it can be easy for a seller to forget to do something essential before an agent brings a potential buyer through your home.

We’ve reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers – a panel of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada – to narrow down a list of the top things that sellers often forget to do before showing their home.

Lighting & Blinds

When it comes to showing your home, lighter is brighter! For daytime showings, opening up those blinds and curtains and turning off all artificial light will allow the natural light to flood your home. Walking into a bright, airy space is going to give a much better first impression to potential buyers than walking into a dark space.

“For showings after dusk, you want to showcase your home right from when a potential buyer pulls up to your property. Having all exterior lights on will help guide the agent and clients to the front door, as well as reduce the potential for any injuries if it Is winter and there may be a slip hazard on the driveway. All lights on in the interior will give a better first impression of the home if the potential buyer has just come from looking at a property where it was dark upon entering,” says Cheryl MacIsaac, RE/MAX Baughan Realty, Wainwright, AB. “This will also help the showing agent as they will not need to search for light switches to turn on lights. It also lets the seller know if the showing has occurred as most agents will turn off the lights upon leaving each room, if instructed to do so.”

Clean & Tidy

One of the most important things that a seller must do when selling their home is keeping it clean and tidy. While sweeping floors and vacuuming the carpets will speed up your cleaning process, sellers often forget to tidy things that they may be accustomed to, such as pet items, which may end up turning buyers away.

“Sellers often forget to make sure that family pets and their bedding, toys and litter boxes/yards may not be clean or out of the way. It is so important as some buyers are allergic, don’t have pets or if they smell pet odours it may turn them off from buying,” says Sandra Benz, RE/MAX Performance Realty, Delta, BC.

Another important thing to remember when preparing your home for showings is to open a window or two and allow some fresh air into your space! As Ray Yenkana, RE/MAX Little Oak Realty, Surrey, BC says, “Sellers are used to their smells, but those smells may be an instant turn off to potential buyers!”

Close that Lid!

A simple, yet easily forgotten thing that sellers often forget about when preparing to show their home is to put the toilet seat down. As easy as it is to close the lid behind you, many sellers completely overlook this aspect of cleaning their bathroom.

“Sellers often forget to put the toilet lid down. First impressions are everything; you want people to see the room, not the inside of a toilet,” says May Smith, RE/MAX Little Oak Realty, Surrey, BC.

As Shauna Thompson of RE/MAX Fort McMurray says, “It becomes a distraction to the buyer, and the buyer’s agent doesn’t want to have to touch the toilets to put the seats down!”

Personal Items

When it comes to preparing your house for a showing, it can be easy to overlook the little things that may deter a potential buyer, such as displaying personal items. Things like family photos and sentimental items may seem like a good idea, as it can make the space look more inviting and lived-in, but many potential buyers have a hard time imagining themselves living in the space if it is filled with personal items.

“It’s harder for buyers to imagine themselves living in the house with other people’s photos and they waste time trying to figure out if they know the sellers or what the relationship may be/family composition/reason for selling may be,” says Curtus Collins, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate, Regina, SK.

Garage & Driveway

The garage and driveway are two areas that sellers often overlook when preparing their home for a showing, yet these are two areas of your home that potential buyers will be extremely interested in. Whether a new buyer is planning to use the garage for storage or parking, it is important to prepare the garage for a showing so anyone walking through can get a good idea of how much space there is to work with. As Kimberly Graham of RE/MAX River City in Edmonton, AB says, “Leave a way to access the garage. Most often it is a space where sellers store everything they have decluttered, so they can keep their things safe. However, buyers still want to see the garage!”

The driveway is another part of the home that is often not considered but is very important to potential buyers, as it is often one of the first things they will notice when driving up to the property. In particular, potential buyers will be considering their parking situation and how their vehicles and recreational vehicles, such as RV’s and boats, will fit in the driveway. If possible, ensure that your driveway is as clear as it can be to allow buyers to get an accurate representation of just how much parking is available.

“When buyers come to view the home if they are driving along with their agent, or separately, it draws attention to limited parking. This can be particularly challenging for homes in cul-de-sacs or places where parking could be a concern as the driveway will announce it as a challenge,” says Taylor Hack, RE/MAX River City, Edmonton, AB.

If you are considering selling your property, give us a call!



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How to Invest in Real Estate in Toronto

Real estate investments offer the chance to build assets that will increase in value and build wealth. Although many people think real estate investors have to be tycoons to get into the real estate market, even average homeowners have their share in the real estate game. Here we explain the different options for investing in Toronto real estate and the reasons real estate can be a good investment, especially in the long-term.

Investing in a Home

This is by far the easiest way to get into the real estate market. You have access to funds to invest in your property via a mortgage, which means as long as you can come up with a down payment, have good credit and steady income, you can probably find a property to purchase, even if it is on the outskirts of the city.

The benefits include:

  • You live in the home, so don’t have additional living costs for rent
  • Owning your primary residence is the best form of “forced savings”
  • Your mortgage payments are smaller incremental investments that build big home equity
  • It provides a tax shelter as your profits are not taxed when you sell your home
  • Your home equity can provide capital to put toward other investments
  • Mortgage interest rates are low now

Buying a home is the most basic form of buying and holding an investment. Buy it, hold onto it, and watch your equity grow.

Buying and Holding

You can apply the buy-and-hold strategy to more than one property. Unless you have millions of dollars sitting around allowing you to carry several mortgages, the easiest way to do this is to invest in rental properties. This is an excellent way to build a real estate portfolio, as you can purchase one or more rental properties and have tenants who generate rental income to pay your mortgage. In this scenario, it’s almost as if your property is mortgage-free.

The trick in Toronto, of course, is buying a rental property you can afford, and that also provides you with enough rent to cover your mortgage. The only problem with rental properties is they require management and maintenance, so you have to ask yourself, “Do I really want to be a landlord?” You can pay property management fees for someone else to do the work, but that eats into your profits.

Condos and Rental Properties

As long as you buy the property for a fair price, have a property that will attract tenants (near transit, affordable compared to other rentals in the area, safe area, near amenities, etc.) and can keep tenants, you can build a respectable portfolio. The only caveat is that you will, of course, need the 20-per-cent down payment for each property and get a mortgage.

Toronto condos are a popular choice, as they have a more affordable purchase price, especially when purchased pre-construction. They also have tenant demand as a rental property and the condo market is seeing excellent gains in value. The downside is your rent will have to be high enough to cover your mortgage and condo fees.

Flipping Real Estate

Flipping is buying an undervalued fixer-upper, renovating it and then selling it at a profit. This has long been a real estate investment choice for people not interested in being a landlord. However, financing is trickier because you need money to manage renovations. Unless you are a true handy person or know someone who is, renovations can pose many challenges.

Competition to purchase fixer-uppers can be fierce, as it is not just investors but homeowners who are in search of undervalued properties. Also, it can be hard to find a home that is priced significantly below market value. There is more risk because you have to know:

  • How much to pay for the home
  • How much to invest to be able to sell at a profit
  • How to price the home so it isn’t too high to find a buyer

Financing your costs can be tricky and finding a lender can prove a challenge. If you run into issues selling, you can try to rent the property to cover your mortgage. However, with today’s low housing inventory, selling shouldn’t be a problem and might even drive up prices due to bidding wars.

Joint Ventures in Real Estate

If you want to invest in Toronto real estate, but either have bad credit or not enough money for a down payment, you can opt for a partnership with someone you trust and go into the purchase together. You share the burden of financing the property and split the profits when you sell. You can do this using the buy-and-hold strategy, rental properties to tenants, flipping or even own and live in the property together. The trick is to have all the terms clearly plotted out such as:

  • For flips, how the repairs will be done, paid for and managed
  • How much you are willing to spend on upgrades to still see a profit
  • Finding tenants and managing the property if renting it out
  • Your selling strategy and goals
  • Buying out a partner

Caution is greatly advised when choosing a partner. Some have a history of overextending themselves financially, and chances are they could do it again. Consult a lawyer for advice on how best to proceed.

Purchasing REITS

Real estate investment funds or REITs are publicly traded organizations that invest in income-producing real estate assets. They are purchased like stocks and come in different types with varying degrees of risk. They usually consist of diverse holdings such as industrial buildings, residential apartment towers, office buildings, malls, etc., and can be local or international properties.

You can own units easily as they start as low as $10 compared to the minimum you would need for a down payment for a Toronto property. In the past 10 years, REITs dollar value grew 215 per cent, making them rather lucrative. This comes with all the benefits of owning property, without any of the headaches.

Benefits of Renting

Rental property opportunities are a good Toronto real estate investment strategy. Toronto’s population is growing and so is the demand for rental units. In fact, Toronto is the fastest-growing metropolis in North America with 77,435 new residents arriving between July 2017 and July 2018. Average rent should be able to cover your mortgage and in some cases even get your down payment back quickly. The only problem is, properties in the Greater Toronto Area today average $839,363, so you’ll need almost $60,000 upfront for your down payment.

If you would like to speak to a real estate agent about Toronto real estate investments, reach out to us today.