Real Estate During a Pandemic

It’s a state of emergency here in Ontario, and in many places around the world, and yet the real estate industry is still ticking along. My brokerage, iPro Realty, has correctly suggested a suspension of all open houses for the next 30 days, but how do you stay safe when you still need to find a home during a global pandemic?

Below I’ve outlined some tips on how to keep yourself (agents and clients alike) safe during real estate transactions amid COVID-19.

1. Let’s start with the obvious one, handshakes.

We shake ends at open houses, when meeting potential new clients, when dealing with suppliers, and when deals are done. That human connection is vital to many deals but it’s going to have to be put on pause for now. So what can you do in the meantime?

May I suggest in these times of social distancing a Vulcan salute? While you don’t have to say anything along with it, the adage “Live long and prosper” is very relevant to those you’ll be working with, so why not go the extra mile with a little LLAP. It’s definitely going to be a conversation starter!

2. Online meetings and contract signings.

There really is no need to meet in person anymore to review offers, sign contracts, and so on. With multiple live-video chat options including Facebook Messenger, ZOOM, Skype, and Google, you can get that face to face experience without having to be there.

And with so many ways to sign documents online, using your lucky pen in person will have to wait for the days when the virus is behind us.

3. Driving clients to showings.

While it’s definitely better right now to ask everyone to drive their own vehicles, not everyone has their own car. If you do still need to take clients in your own car to showing appointments, please keep sanitizing wipes in the car and wipe it down after every group of clients has been in there. If you can provide hand sanitizer for everyone to use, even better!

4. Viewing properties.

If you really trust your agent but also don’t want to go anywhere, you may want to ask them to visit properties for you and to use a video chat to walk you through the place in a virtual showing. More immersive than a virtual tour, the agent can get an up close look at the place and show you the good and bad on video that you’d be able to normally see in person.

5. Hosting showings.

If you’re a homeowner and people are coming to see your property, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself and others:

  1. Consider leaving hand sanitizer for use in a very obvious place when people walk in (next to the listing paperwork is good). Leave a small sign asking people to use it.
  2. Leave as many doors open as possible. When people go to showings they open everything, meaning they touch everything. If you can open things in advance, you’ll limit your risk of exposure.
  3. That being said, make sure you sanitize all surfaces before and after showings. Keep those doorhandles wiped down as well as the edges of doors, kitchen appliances and cupboards, and anything else you can think of.
  4. You may also want to leave a container of sanitizing wipes out for agents conducting showings, especially if they are back to back, asking them to please wipe down any surfaces they have touched, just to be safe.
  5. For extra security, you could provide disposable gloves for visitors to use but there’s no guarantee they won’t touch their mouths and still touch a surface while wearing them. Wiping everything down is really your best option.
  6. While pretty soaps and towels look nice, leave your guests with a place they can use good cleaning soap and a pile of small fresh towels if you can.

If you are able to skip the home search process right now, I do highly recommend it, but it’s likely not feasible for many of you. You may have already sold your property and need a new one to avoid bridge financing fees, or are a tenant who must be out of your current home by a certain date. Life has to go on, even strangely during a pandemic. 

Ask your agent for the steps they are taking to ensure your safety, or if you are an agent be sure to share them upfront with current and potential clients. And remember to check only verified sources of COVID-19 information. This is certainly a trying time for all of us, and adding the stress of real estate can make it feel even daunting. By taking these steps to protect yourself, you’ll also be helping to protect your community.

Live long, and prosper,

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