I’m not one to panic; I am one to plan. I have given some thought to how homeowners and prospective buyers can reduce the likelihood they will encounter or spread the Coronavirus within the real estate business. Agents must step up and play the role of a catalyst for change in how we approach our day to day work.
First, let me assure you I carry individual hand sanitizers in my car and handbag, and I use them. If I am showing your house, I will insist all prospective buyers entering a property wipe their hands at the front door (while I clean the doorknob), or they do not enter. I will ask potential buyers to refrain from opening drawers, closet doors, touching counters, and faucets. This is for your protection and peace of mind as well as theirs. Below are several things we can do to ensure your safety while your home is on the market or while you are in the process of buying a house.
If your home is on the market, please ask your agent to provide shoe covers and provide a trash receptacle for disposal after use. Under no circumstances should the shoe covers be worn again.
I’m advising against public open houses and open houses for brokers as well. If a buyer wants to view a property, a private showing should be arranged to limit the number of people present. Let’s use common sense and apply social distancing whenever possible.
The Internet can be a lifesaver in the days of the Coronavirus outbreak ( and I’m not exaggerating)! Properties may be viewed online. Professional photos, both interior and aerial, plus 3-D tours enable buyers to tour the property without stepping foot on the dirt beneath it. The use of DocuSign or other e-signature programs allow the purchase offer and plethora of other documents be signed without changing hands, pens, paper, well you get the picture. The virus cannot play a role in the online transaction.
Buyers are often present at home inspections. However, the home inspection report is available online; the inspectors encourage buyers to call them direct if they have specific questions about items discovered. Again, the negotiations for repairs are conducted online via phone calls, text messages, and emails. The seller or buyer doesn’t need to attend a closing. For items that must be notarized, mobile notaries are available. They come to your house or meet you at a location of your choice (perhaps the hood of your car) if you want to limit entrance into your home.
Those are my preventive thoughts, and as a disclaimer, they are not issued by the industry or local governments. I will continue to keep looking for ways to keep my clients safe by limiting unnecessary exposure risks. Stay safe, remain calm, and use common sense as the battle to defeat this virus requires the best of everyone.
Update: Here are the new showing guidelines issued by the California Association of Realtors as of March 20, 2020.
Any person entering a property shall provide by a declaration that to the best of their knowledge, they are not currently ill with a cold or flu; do not have a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath, or exhibit other COVID-19 symptoms; have not been in contact with a person with COVID-19; and will adhere to and follow all precautions required for viewing the property at all times. All persons visiting a property will agree to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer prior to entry, and to wear disposable rubber gloves and a protective face mask if one is made available. In addition, sellers must disclose to all persons who enter the property if the seller is currently ill with a cold, flu or COVID-19 itself, or has a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms, or has been in contact with a person with COVID-19. Further, if anyone who enters the property is later diagnosed with COVID-19, the person who is diagnosed must immediately inform the listing agent, who will then make the best efforts to inform everyone who entered the property after the person diagnosed, of that fact.
If your home is on the market, and you wish to continue showing it to prospective buyers, turn the lights on, leave gates and interior doors open to reduce the touch factor. Please advise your agent she is to make sure the prospective buyers and their agent observe the above showing instructions. Let’s make every effort to put our clients’ and customers’ well-being above all else.
Another update as of April 1, 2020: A Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration form states showing guidelines and requires signatures of prospective buyers before touring a property. There is a Listing Agreement Coronavirus Addendum that establishes the terms and conditions of showing a property listed for sale to be signed by sellers. We, as an industry, are putting the safety and well being of our clients and customers as our top priority.
Take care and stay safe!