Over the past several months, in-person viewing of properties and open houses have been limited to minimize the exposure to and spread of COVID-19. As restrictions begin to ease in Massachusetts and around the country, we are seeing an increase in showing activity and open houses.
If you’re thinking about listing your home or are looking for a new place to call home you may be wondering what you can expect regarding showing guidance.
Below I have outlined some general protocols that have been adopted during the re-opening phase to help keep buyers and sellers safe when conducting real-estate related activities.
Virtual showings remain commonplace
First and foremost, even though restrictions are easing, the use of virtual showings is still encouraged to limit in-person activity as much as possible. It is recommended that buyers narrow their property search by leveraging virtual technology (online tours, videos, photos, etc.) and driving by properties before requesting an in-person viewing.
Showings for only pre-qualified buyers
Many listing agents are adopting a policy that requires all buyers to submit a pre-qualification letter prior to entry. The objective is to limit in-person showings to only serious buyers who are financially qualified for a purchase.
Reduced number of people allowed to attend a showing
Non-essential parties are discouraged from attending showings. Some sellers are requesting that a limited number of people enter their home during a single showing.
Additional disclosures may be required
It’s important for buyers and sellers to self-disclose whether they have COVID-19 or exhibit any symptoms. Prior to scheduling a showing or entering a property, buyers may be asked to complete a form or answer a series of screening questions related to potential exposure to COVID-19. At a minimum, many agents are keeping a log of buyer/seller interactions including names, dates, and locations to enable contact tracing.
Adherence to social distancing
During all showing and open houses, it is recommended that a minimum of six feet between individuals be maintained.
Open house tours by appointment
In addition to the guidelines and protocols listed above, open houses may require an appointment. In order to comply with new requirements, open house tours are often being scheduled in intervals, for example, 10-15 minute showings per party.
Sanitary protocol recommendations
For those planning to list their home during the pandemic, it’s important to have a protocol in place for sanitizing a home before and after showings. The National Association of REALTORs® recommends some basic precautions in order to make the experience as touch-free as possible. Examples include opening doors, cabinets, closets, window coverings, light switches, etc. prior to potential buyers entering the home. After the showing, high traffic areas and surfaces should be disinfected, including the key and lockbox.
When attending a tour, buyers should be mindful of recommended precautions. These include:
- Wear a mask or face covering
- Avoid shaking hands
- Wash or sanitize hands when entering a property
- Remove shoes or wear booties prior to entry
- Avoid touching surfaces in the home such as fixtures, cabinets, and door handles
- Do not use the bathrooms
- Do not share personal items like phones, pens, tablets at the property
This is general information about how real estate related activities are being conducted. Please consult with local public health information for further guidance.