The real estate industry has been deemed an essential service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has impacted the industry in unprecedented ways. Even though many parts of Canada are in a recovery period and reopening many businesses, life is not the way it used to be. Everyone has to endure our new normal in almost every facet of life. This virus has infected many people worldwide and has no age. Children, youth, adolescents, adults, and seniors of all ages have been inflicted with this horrible virus. The virus directly impacted the real estate market, as new construction builds were brought to a halt in many places resulting in a reduction of the number of homes being built and sold.
The following are some important tips for realtors to consider so they can still operate in a safe and successful manner.
Preventative Measures Realtor Members Should Be Taking
In an effort to protect yourself and others it is of the most importance to:
- Use soap and water and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water are best to use, however, if it is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes as much as possible, especially with hands that are not washed.
- Wear a mask at all times when in the company of others.
- Practice social distancing throughout any transactions with other people. Always stay 6 feet apart.
- Always cover your nose and mouth when sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces.
- Stay home if you are feeling unwell or are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
- When meeting clients, ask if they have been exposed to COVID-19, are exhibiting any symptoms, or awaiting a COVID-19 test result. If so avoid meeting in person.
- Create new ways to show homes without conducting open houses.
Traditionally, a realtor would hold many open houses to allow potential clients to see the home first hand or meet numerous potential buyers at the home for private viewings. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, open houses were no longer permitted and many people did not want potential buyers in their homes for fear of spreading the virus. Still, at this time open houses are still not permitted and potential buyers that request a private viewing must wear masks and gloves when entering a home. Clients are not permitted to linger in the home too long, nor are they allowed to touch anything, or sit on any furniture.
Typically a lot of real estate business is conducted in person, however, of recent, much of the communication is done by telephone or electronic means. Now realtors are forced to come up with new innovative ways to showcase homes and serve clients while still keeping limited personal interaction.
Ways Realtors Can Safely and Effectively Conduct Business
Many of the real estate boards have been working hard since the onset of the pandemic to find safe and effective ways to showcase homes, facilitate sales while limiting personal interactions.
Due to the fact that personal interactions have been very limited, agents now communicate with clients digitally, either through telephone calls, Zoom, FaceTime, email, and other electronic technologies.
Typically the photos in a listing highlight special features in the home. However, since the pandemic, agents are posting many more photos with their listing so potential clients can get a real feel for the home and property.
Since April 2020, Realtor.ca has provided agents with the means to showcase their listing by video and 3D virtual tours. This allows clients to virtually walk through the home without stepping foot in the home.
Realtors can operate utilizing e-documents. Land title documents, strata documents, and many other documents can be viewed digitally. All these documents can be emailed to you by your agent.
Private viewings can be arranged with clients who are serious about purchasing a home and would like to view it in person along with their home inspector. Safety protocols must be followed during this process such as social distancing, wearing masks and gloves, and shoe covers. These viewings are by appointment only and stringent disinfecting takes place after each viewing.
Presenting Listings Outdoors at The Property
Many of the realtors have taken the initiative to present a listing outside of a property to safely answer questions that potential clients may have. Clients can view the exterior of the property while safely social distancing. This gives the clients the ability to meet with the agent in person safely.
Agents should do their best to take extra precautions by disinfecting lockboxes, doorknobs, keys, and other high touch-surfaces.
Changes In Brokerage Offices After COVID-19
As there is no way to tell when the COVID-19 pandemic will actually come to an end, realtors are faced with the challenges of creating new safe office spaces. During the pandemic, brokerage offices were closed and realtors were faced with finding new innovative ways of doing business with minimal in-person contact. With restrictions easing up somewhat, brokerage offices will look much different than they did pre-pandemic. Provinces throughout the Country are experiencing different stages of re-opening.
New Protocols in Brokerage Offices
Many brokerages will operate differently from one another. Some will close common areas such as kitchens and lounges to prevent close contact between staff members as well as clients. Protective barriers may be placed at the desks of agents to safely distance them from clients. Floor markers may be used to encourage physical distancing. Separate doors may be used for entering and exiting the office. Clients may be asked to visit the brokerage by appointment only. All staff, buyers, and sellers may be required to wear masks. Some brokerages may screen clients attending their office by taking their temperature and filling out a questionnaire or answering COVID-19 health-related questions. Some brokerages are utilizing large training rooms that typically hold up to 30 people for meetings with their clients so there is ample room for physically distancing.