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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great advice Carolyne, as usual.

    Technology aside, Realtors still, and always will, have to establish a trusting relationship with their prospective clients. Time is of the essence, but in this case, spending the requisite amount of it with one’s potential clients ‘upfront’ is essential.

    Re the barefoot/carpet-caper advice:

    During the mid-to-late nineteen eighties-early nineteen-nineties i was a conciliator with the Ontario New Home Warranty Corp. (now TARION). One of my on-site conciliation meetings dealt with the homeowner’s claim that the carpet in the living room was defective. Upon entering the home I saw a well worn path of shiny beaten-down darkened carpet leading from the front door vestibule area through the center of the room to the rear recreation room which was hardwood covered. I noticed that all of the residents were walking around barefoot. I had a sticky politically correct/incorrect dilemma on my hands; how to advise these folks from India that this is Canada, not India, wherein India bare footedness in one’s home (without wall-to-wall carpets) is the norm, but is not the norm in Canada…unless one wants to shampoo one’s carpets weekly due to the oils emanating from one’s feet and sticking to the carpet…forever, if not cleaned weekly…which would still ruin the carpets before their normal expiry dates. I dealt with the explanation as deftly as I could, and the owners got the picture after I showed them that the exact same carpet in another room—the dining room “where no one went unless wearing sandals” as they told me—was in perfect condition. The builder was relieved, and I suggested that all of the lonely pairs of sandals sitting on the front vestibule floor be worn thereafter, everywhere in the house, to which the residents all agreed. When they asked me which carpet-cleaning outfit i would recommend, I declined to respond, citing lack of knowledge of any outfit’s ability to get the soiled carpet back to its original condition. I knew there was no way that carpet could be restored. I never heard back from the claimants, but I did hear back from the builder who expressed his thanks for the way I handled the sticky situation which was based upon a foreign cultural behaviour regarding walking bare foot in one’s non wall-to-wall carpeted home most all of the time. Case closed.

    I now wonder if that same issue arose today, and I treated it the same way that I did back when, if I would be called out and labelled by some crazed, left-wing-university educated Marxist cancel-culture warrior as a racist bigot…not to be confused with bigfoot.

  2. Covid is here, there, and EVERYWHERE!

    I have copied and pasted this from one of my REM comments ages ago… but it is even more important now.

    When showing property by appointment or open house visits, (just my opinion) do not let people remove their shoes and walk barefoot especially or even in their socks, through someone’s home.

    It was a carpet installer who madee aware because I had previously always had real wood hardwood floors; he said never walk on carpet barefoot or even with socks. If necessary invest in indoor-only house-shoes, or wear your indoor sippers to protect broadloom, yours or someone else’s. No matter how clean you are, feet produce an oily substance that is almost impossible to remove from carpet, over time. Look for the foot traffic areas in your own home perhaps.

    You can even slip on shoe paper cover-ups as many service industries do now, covering their steel-toe boots. GOOD IDEA! Buy them and give to your sellers and buyers. Leave a “take one; use these” sign at the front door. Your company can even buy corporate personalized paper shoe covers!

    Invite all would-be clients to meet with you, even on line, if they inquire as to will there be an open house at this address so you can spend time getting to know the caller’s wish list. No sense showing random choices that are not match-ups; a total waste of everyone’s time.

    Post a note on the door that says “adults only” will be permitted to enter, and no more than two at a time. Children not permitted inside Do NOT remove your shoes. Never, not just during Covid restrictions. Always. You will get lots of funny looks and frowns.

    There’s no good reason for children of walking age to be inside a seller’s home at any time. If this means one of the parents must stay outside with the children, they can rotate. Safety first. You must protect your seller’s property. And you are giving a message to the visitors that you would respect their own property likewise. I got lots of listings owned by would-be buyers because of insisting on this topic.

    ===

    And in reality, we as agents are simply the delivery boys. But before we ever help someone sell and or buy a property, we must first sell ourselves (our expertise). First and foremost we are in the people business, tightly followed by the finance business.

    It doesn’t, nor the should it, matter to us what, if any, house the buyer wants to buy. It’s his money not ours. We are simply purveyors of information, guideposts if you will. But before anything can move forward, we absolutely must develop rapport with Mr and or Mrs John Q. Public. You must engage their trust. So if you simply say something as uncomplicated as: “I am really a selfish person. How so? I want your business, and I want to do such a good job for you that you will send me all your family, friends, and business associates, and whatever house I help you acquire, when you are ready to sell it, you will select me once again as “your” preferred agent.”

    I start all my real estate relationships by knowing as best as possible exactly what I’m dealing with. This is how I earn my living. But even more important is how I treat you and your business with respect.”

    “Personally, I am not going to prequalify you. Personally I don’t care where you work, how much money you earn, how much of that money together or alone you decide you want to spend. That is the job of the money/finance provider. I will work for you to establish the best possible buying power your money will dictate.”

    “But before we go out to look at houses, we need to prepare the sellers that we are coming. And they need to know that they too can trust us – to show their property only to would-be buyers who can afford to buy it if they decide they like it enough to consider.a purchase. As much as we respect you and your time, we must also respect them and their time; and, their property. It’s how we treat both sides of a transaction.”

    “So, before you get all excited about a house you might love and wish to call home, we need to know for sure that your bank or mortgage broker supports your decision – before we go shopping.”

    “You surely don’t want to be disappointed, and we want to avoid that at all costs. Makes us look less than efficient. So, one of my personal rules is to get you prequalified so I can do the very best job for you.”

    Some such conversation can take an hour or maybe even two, in a nice quiet, undisturbed location, ideally your office or some neutral location. [Or of course now online.] Never make your people feel rushed. Set aside dedicated time to be with them to build rapport. If you are good on the phone and find it easy to develop rapport on the phone, then close the door in a quiet uninterrupted spot – and talk. Unless it’s an emergency do not interrupt the flow of your discussion by taking other calls as your phone might continue to ring.

    Always remember, if these people aren’t ready yet, they will be at some point later, and you want them to remember how well you treated them, even if it takes three years of occasionally staying in touch. It’s called business-building for the future. NEXT! I can’t begin to count how many of these discussions I had where people simply thought they were ready and in reality, they weren’t. They thanked me profusely for being gentle and kind and taking time to explain. And they came back. When they were really ready, and prequalified.

    This worked for me, developing a 24% market share in my trading area. I was the go-to person, and I produced wonderful referrals over the years. So I’m living proof it works. Patience required? Absolutely!

    If you are just starting out, be prepared that it might take a couple of years to get grounded in this business, but it is an education money cannot buy, and only time will tell how successful you will be.

    In the meantime, get all your buyers prequalified by a finance expert. Leave that part of the real estate job to someone who already has the perfect answers that enable you to do the perfect job for your buyers and sellers. Everyone will go home happy, especially you, with your worked smart, not hard, well-earned commission cheque in hand and a great testimonial.

    Never forget: first and foremost we are in the people business. Always “SAFETY FIRST.”

    ===

    Carolyne L 🍁

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