The BC Northern Real Estate Board is supporting a call to halt open houses during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

The BC Northern Real Estate Board is supporting a call to halt open houses during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

BC Northern Real Estate Board supports temporary halt to open houses

Buyers and sellers are asked to speak to their realtor about COVID-19 preparedness

The BC Northern Real Estate Board is supporting a call to temporarily halt open houses throughout the province.

The move was recommended by the Real Estate Council of BC, the BC Real Estate Association and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate on Thursday, Nov. 5, in response to the latest provincial health order on the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many of our members have already stopped open houses and have moved to virtual options, such as virtual open houses, expanded virtual tours or modified showings,” said BCNREB president Shawna Kinsley Friday, Nov. 6. “Listings may also be designated ‘no showings’ while remaining on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system.”

In its announcement the agencies overseeing real estate referenced the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in B.C. in making its recommendation.

READ MORE: Provincial real estate council calls upon B.C. realtors to halt open houses

She said buyers and sellers are asked to speak to their realtor about COVID-19 preparedness and procedures.

BC Northern Realtors have long developed and, recently updated, guidelines for real estate practices such as showings, in accordance with health authority orders and guidance from WorkSafeBC, the regulators and the provincial association.

Kinsley said buyers and sellers have adapted to how properties are previewed and showed — changes she said are intended to ensure the health and well-being of consumers during the pandemic.

Realtors throughout B.C., meanwhile, moved to virtual options at the start of the pandemic in March and adopted requirements for social distancing, sanitizing and health and travel questions during showings.

“We have long adapted to the realities of COVID,” Kinsley said. “The temporary halt to open houses is not expected to affect northern or north central markets.”

In October, the BCNREB reported 3,709 properties worth $1.2 billion sold through MLS during the first nine months of 2020. During the same time period in 2019, the BCNREB reported 3,741 properties were sold worth $1.1 billion.

“The third quarter of 2020 saw the second-highest sales on record in the region since data was collected in 1980,” Kinsley said. “Much of the increase was drive by pent-up demand from sales that did not occur during the spring due to containment measures and record-low mortgage rates.”

– With files from Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media

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