Photo: James Bombales

Real estate agents in Ontario’s COVID-19 hotspots have now lost the ability to host in-person open houses for the second time during the course of the pandemic.

As of Saturday, October 17th, the Toronto, Peel and Ottawa public health regions prohibited the hosting of in-person open houses as part of further Stage Two restrictions announced on Friday, October 16th. The three regions were already subject to modified Stage Two restrictions since the Thanksgiving weekend.

York Region also joined the three regions in Stage Two on Monday because of a concerning rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

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The open house ban, along with the other Stage Two restrictions, will be in place for the next 28 days and reassessed on an ongoing basis.

“We are pleased to see the Government has listened to OREA’s advice on stopping open houses in areas of the Province where COVID-19 cases are on the rise,” said Sean Morrison, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association, in a press release issued on Friday.

In a separate press release, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) said that it would once again take steps to suppress in-person open houses in light of the latest restrictions on its public-facing websites, such as Realtor.ca and TRREB.ca.

In-person showings scheduled by appointment only are still available to buyers and sellers. Digital tools, such as videos, live streams and virtual tours, have been promoted to real estate professionals as a safer alternative by OREA and TRREB.

“While in-person open houses are prohibited, showings to pre-qualified clients are necessary in order to facilitate and complete transactions, and Members must ensure they follow health and safety best practices when doing so,” said TRREB president, Lisa Patel, in the press release.

Open houses were previously banned in Ontario from early April to late July during the pandemic’s first wave.

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