Much of the country is at a standstill due to COVID-19 (otherwise known as the Coronavirus), but real estate isn’t stopping. With interest rates lower than we have seen them in years, home sales continue to close, even as fear of the virus mounts. How can Realtors and their clients prevent Coronavirus during real estate activities? We’re providing a few tips to help you protect yourself against COVID-19.
Before a Showing: Homeowner and Realtor Coronavirus Prevention
If you’re putting your home on the market during the COVID-19 pandemic, be sure to take additional steps to keep yourself and potential buyers safe.
- Deep clean your home and all exposed surfaces with alcohol or bleach products. Use a diluted bleach solution or a product with at least 70% alcohol content to clean all surfaces. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from any potential exposure.
- Provide plenty of hand soap in all common areas near a sink. Place paper towels and trash cans nearby for hand drying. If possible, provide paper booties to cover shoes, place hand sanitizer throughout your home, and a box of plastic gloves for Realtors and homebuyers who tour your home.
- If anyone in your home displays ANY symptoms common with COVID-19, immediately isolate that person and yourselves for at least 14 days. During this time, you should not allow anyone else inside your home. Notify your Realtor immediately; those who have already viewed your home should be notified.
- During a showing, homeowners typically leave their house and go somewhere else. During this pandemic, most public places (restaurants, libraries, bars, shops) are closed. Therefore, plan accordingly and have a safe space to go during a showing. Perhaps you drive to a local park where you can distance yourself from other people, or remain in your car and read a book or get offline work done.
- Realtors should make every attempt to create virtual tours, online walkthroughs, and 3D floorplans during this time. If buyers can view homes from the safety of their computers, it will drastically minimize outsider contact. Realtors should encourage buyers to take virtual tours first, and then see only their top two or three in person.
- Realtors and sellers are strongly discouraged from holding open houses during this pandemic. By limiting showings only to those who are seriously interested in purchasing, homeowners will drastically limit the number of potentially affected individuals inside their home.
Home Buyers and Real Estate Agents: Protecting Yourself During a Showing
For those who are purchasing a home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should take as much care as possible when entering other homes or offices. Realtors and their clients are encouraged to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene to prevent Coronavirus.
- Realtors, clients, and other individuals should not shake hands. It may feel impersonal at first, but avoiding direct contact is the best way to prevent illness.
- Drive separate cars to a property to avoid cross-contamination.
- Touch as few surfaces as possible when entering a home. Try to push doors open with a foot or elbow whenever possible.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after touring a property. Ideally, wash your hands every time you touch a shared surface, like a counter, doorknob, light switch, or other surfaces.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, and NOT into your hand. If you use a tissue, toss it into a trash can and wash your hands immediately.
- If you or one of your clients has any symptoms associated with the virus, isolate yourself immediately and DO NOT tour any homes. Utilize online virtual tours if you want to view properties from home.
- Utilize virtual tours when possible to avoid exposure to the illness.
- Use hand sanitizer if hand washing isn’t immediately available.
- Do not touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.
- If you must be in a space together, practice social distancing, and remain at least six feet apart.
Prevent Coronavirus at the Closing Table
Many homeowners and homebuyers went under contract before community closures began. Therefore, they will be sitting down to the closing table as the Coronavirus continues to spread. During this process, you can take steps to keep yourself and the other parties safe.
- Bring your own pen. You should not share a pen – or anything else, for that matter – with anyone else at the closing table.
- Before entering the room, be sure the tables, chairs, doorknobs, and other surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned with antimicrobial wipes or a bleach cleaner.
- Practice social distancing and keep all parties six feet apart. This might mean having all parties sit with a chair in between them. While this might feel impersonal, the CDC reiterates that social distancing is the best way to prevent Coronavirus.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after signing.
- Provide all parties with hand sanitizer.
- Do not touch your face, nose, eyes, or mouth.
- Do not shake hands with the other party, your real estate agent, the title company representative, or anyone else.
While the actions mentioned above pertain to real estate professionals, homeowners, and home buyers, many of the tips apply to our daily lives. During this outbreak, we must be vigilant and take our health and the health of our loved ones seriously.
The CDC recommends the following actions for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Proper hand hygiene: wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds regularly throughout the day.
- Do not shake hands, “high-five,” or make any other hand-to-hand contact with other people.
- Practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from other people in public spaces.
- Do not attend large gatherings (the White House recommends less than ten people at a time). This includes avoiding restaurants, bars, shopping centers, houses of worship, schools, and offices.
- If you or someone in your family exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have come into contact with someone who tests positive, immediately isolate yourself and contact your local health professionals for further instructions.
The real estate market does not have to stop during this crisis. In fact, right now is a great time to buy a home. However, we are all responsible for keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. By following some basic cleanliness procedures, we can ensure Realtors and their clients stay safe.