The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting members in unprecedented ways and raises numerous unique and novel issues for the real estate industry. Through this guidance, we aim to respond to commonly asked questions and to empower members to successfully navigate their real estate businesses during these challenging, and continually evolving, circumstances.
Here are some general preventative measures that the CDC recommends for individuals to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus:
• Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask or covering when indoors.
• Practice social distancing by staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others when possible.
• Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you. COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone 12 and older.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
• Stay home if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or any other cold or flu-like symptom.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you choose to conduct in-person showings or other activities, here is some important guidance:
• Check state and local orders to confirm the permissibility, and any specific requirements, of conducting in-person showings.
• Encourage buyers to narrow their property search through photos, virtual tours, and leveraging other technology to reduce the number of in-person showings.
• Consider adopting a policy of asking all buyers for a prequalification letter to limit in-person showings only to qualified and serious buyers.
• Be familiar with state and local restrictions based on whether a property is vacant, owner-occupied, or tenant occupied, and consider implementing different precautions for occupied properties versus vacant properties.
• Discuss with a seller the precautions that will be taken when showing their property and adhere to any specific requirements requested by sellers showing the property.
• Require property showings by appointment, in lieu of open houses, to reduce the number of persons in a property at any given time.
• Request both the seller and potential buyers to self-disclose whether they have COVID-19 or exhibit any symptoms. However, note that COVID-19 is also spread by individuals who are asymptomatic.
• Be aware of any state or local restrictions on the number of people who may be present at the showing and discourage non-essential parties from attending the showing.
• Be aware of and comply with fair housing obligations related to COVID-19, see Guidance for Fair Housing Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
• Ask buyers to remain in their vehicle until you arrive at the property.
• For an owner or tenant-occupied properties, request that the seller or tenant open all cabinets, closets, window coverings, and turn on lights before leaving the property.
• For vacant properties, arrive early to open the front door, open all cabinets, closet, window coverings, and turn on lights.