4 Steps to Safely Show Real Estate During a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way real estate showings are managed. In some states, open houses are prohibited unless a property is unoccupied or vacant. Masks and social distancing are mandatory for prospective buyers and their agents. In other states, rules are looser for home tours and showings.
When you're allowed to conduct home showings and tours, take extra steps to protect your clients and yourself from coronavirus. Here are four steps to conduct the safest real estate showings while the pandemic is active.
Develop and Circulate Your Safety Plans
The National Association of Realtors and other property-related organizations have developed detailed guidelines to help agents and sellers create safe showing protocols. Read through professional materials on COVID-19 precautions to create individualized safety plans for your showings.
Safe property-showing protocols should include the following:
- All parties must disclose if they have COVID-19 or potential symptoms.
- All parties must wear masks during property tours.
- Individuals must maintain six feet of distance from one another.
- All parties must wash and/or sanitize hands before entry.
- Prospective buyers should avoid touching any surfaces or items.
- Tour groups are limited to up to four people.
- Prospective buyers are prohibited from using bathrooms during tours.
After you or your real estate office create your safety protocols for home and property showings, make handouts, signage, emails, and other materials to spread the word about the behavior and safe practices you expect from your staff, prospective buyers, and property sellers. Since many people ignore such materials, cover your bases by verbally going over with buyers and sellers the rules for showings before you meet.
Double check that staff and clients understand the rules you've established to ensure safe showings. Allow buyers and sellers to ask questions, but be firm in your insistence that all parties adhere to your rules.
Carefully Plan Showing Blocks
While open houses are unsafe during a pandemic, proper scheduling of in-person tours limits the exposure of people and property to potential COVID-19 contamination.
Arrange property showings in two- to four-hour blocks of time. Schedule each party for a 15- to 30-minute tour of the premises. The staggered arrivals cut down on traffic outside yet allow two to four groups to view the home per hour.
Explain to buyers that they must remain in their vehicles until you invite them inside for their tour. Due to excitement about viewing a property, some buyers may ignore any external signs that state these rules.
If the sellers of properties are in high risk groups (elderly or immunocompromised), ask that no children be present during tours. While this may limit the number of potential buyers at block showings, you're protecting the buyer from potential COVID-19 transmission. When parents are distracted, kids can't be counted on to keep their hands off toys or avoid using toilets.
Set Up Safe Showing Environments
Plan ahead to prepare properties for the safest showings possible. Place signs outside of properties informing prospective buyers to remain outside until invited inside to take their tour. Inside properties, post signs that reiterate the property-tour rules.
All doors, curtains, cabinets, and closets should be opened before the block showings. All lights should be turned on as well. The owners of occupied properties can perform these tasks before the showings. In vacant properties, the agent should arrive ahead of schedule to prepare the properties.
Purchase the following items to have on hand at all showings:
- Hand sanitizer
- Liquid hand soap
- Paper towels
- Proper face masks
- Disinfectant wipes and sprays
In some cases, sellers may ask that prospective buyers wear disposable booties over their shoes. Some sellers may request that prospective buyers take their shoes off and leave them at the front entrance.
All parties should use hand sanitizer before entering properties. Hand washing is also encouraged. The paper towels you purchased keep buyers from using towels or other linens in the home to dry their hands.
Bring along a small trash receptacle and box of liners. Keep the trash bin outside the front door of the property, so buyers can safely dispose of masks, gloves, and booties after their tours.
Disinfect Thoroughly After Showings
When a block showing is finished for the day, it's time to sanitize the property. Use disinfectant wipes to sanitize:
- House keys
- Door handles
- Cabinet pulls
- Sink faucets
- Any other surfaces touched by tour groups
Encourage property owners to do their own disinfection processes after they return home (or to their commercial properties). Doubling the post-tour cleanup process means doubling the precautions against COVID-19 spread.
It's not easy to show properties during a pandemic. However, with advance planning, effective communication, diligent adherence to rules, and the proper supplies, you can conduct property tours while keeping yourself and others as safe as possible from potential coronavirus infections.
- Home Staging Warehouse