Real estate and construction services — spanning movers, realtors and demolition companies — will remain in operation while the Ontario government closes non-essential businesses in hopes of halting further transmission of the coronavirus. On Monday, March 23rd, the provincial government announced the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, a disease that has led to 588 cases and seven deaths in Ontario to date. An official list of essential services that would be permitted to stay open was released at approximately 9pm on Monday, upon which the real estate community breathed a collective sigh of relief — land registration services and real estate agent services would remain open while home construction sites would stay active.
“Most importantly, it means that REALTORS®, following the advice of health officials, will be able to support families in this difficult time who need to close on a home,” wrote Sean Morrison, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) in a statement on social media. “But let’s be clear. This news is not a pass to carry on like it is business as usual.” For brokerages and real estate professionals province-wide, this decision avoids possible complications with conditional and closing transactions in the event of a shutdown. Construction work and services in several sectors, including residential, would also stay in operation. “Today’s announcement by the Provincial Government that deems construction sites as ‘essential workplaces’ is vital to balance the health and safety of workers and the housing needs of Ontarians,” reads a press release from Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). “With families waiting to close on new properties, sales of existing homes, and countless other logistical details associated with buying and selling a property it is essential to keep the industry working.” The non-essential business closures will take effect tonight at midnight, and remain active for 14 days until further review.
by Michelle McNally