The British Columbia Real Estate Association and the province’s regulatory agencies have developed new guidelines for open houses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Real estate professionals need to rethink their practices to protect themselves, consumers and communities from COVID-19. It’s not business as usual,” say the guidelines.
Recommendations include limiting open house attendees to serious buyers by leveraging technology tools and screening for qualifying consumers; encouraging pre-registration and/or scheduling attendance; having assistance to ensure physical distancing measures are followed inside and outside the home; and other considerations for multi-tenanted properties.
The guidance recommends that all open house attendees, including Realtors, wear a mask and minimize physical contact with the home. “Require anyone entering the home to wear a mask, including other real estate professionals. Consider how you will communicate this to consumers ahead of the open house, and what you will do if a consumer refuses to wear a mask or doesn’t have one. Consider having disposable masks available at every open house for this eventuality,” say the guidelines.
Recommendations also include limiting the number of individuals allowed in the home at one time and encouraging consumers to wait in their car or line up outside while maintaining physical distancing from other waiting consumers.
“Some of the safety guidelines and protocols issued by the health authorities require you to use your professional judgment,” say the guidelines. “One thing is certain, if you, your clients, or any consumer are displaying symptoms related to COVID-19, you cannot proceed in a way that may endanger others. You are obligated to refuse entry to the consumer, reschedule if the seller or tenant is displaying symptoms, or find someone to host on your behalf if you are showing symptoms. In some cases, it may not be possible to proceed with an open house altogether.”
The guidelines also note that “you may hear concerns from others in the neighbourhoods and strata properties where you host open houses. Whether online or in-person, be prepared to respond to concerns with professionalism and empathy,” say the guidelines. “Remember Dr. Bonnie Henry’s words, ‘Be kind, be calm, be safe.’ By communicating clearly about the precautions and safety protocols you are following, you can help members of the public understand that you are acting responsibly to protect their health and safety. Keep in mind that your actions can influence the public’s perception of the entire real estate profession.”
Darlene Hyde, BCREA CEO, says, “When it comes to resuming open houses, this guidance will support Realtors in adapting their practices to help ensure the safety of their clients and the broader public.”
“As we cautiously move ahead with Phase 3 of B.C.’s Restart Plan, Realtors look forward to working with consumers to keep B.C. communities safe,” says Hyde.