Editor’s Note: Since this post was published, efforts to help contain the spread of COVID-19 have rapidly evolved. We recommend REALTORS® refer to Health Canada or other public health authorities for up-to-date guidelines, restrictions and precautions.
We understand you may have questions and concerns about doing business now that the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 is declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
In response, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) continues to take precautions in making sure its employees and members remain safe. The health and safety of our employees and our members remains our No. 1 priority.
With information seemingly changing by the hour, it’s imperative you follow guidelines set out by Health Canada by regularly checking the government agency’s dedicated website.
If you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing after having travelled, or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with #COVID19, call a health care professional or local Public Health Authority. For more info : https://t.co/CrbF9Apcl7 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/bLwsNx43R2— GovCanHealth (@GovCanHealth) March 12, 2020
Currently, the most vulnerable population are those aged 65 and over, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical conditions. We recognize many REALTORS® fall into one or more of these categories and the unique issues COVID-19 presents to the real estate industry.
Like the National Association of REALTORS®, we suggest speaking openly and honestly to sellers about the pros and cons of holding an open house and to think about alternative marketing opportunities, like virtual tours and presentations.
REALTOR.ca supports 10 virtual tour and video providers including:
- Property Panorama
- Real Vision
REALTOR.ca visitors who view videos and virtual tours are 27% more likely to reach out to a REALTOR®. Additionally, 78% of visitors who view REALTOR.ca listings click on the photos.
Interacting with clients
If you feel you must host an open house, consider requesting visitors disinfect their hands before entering the home with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. If hand sanitizer is unavailable, encourage proper handwashing with soap and water. Keep disinfecting wipes handy and use them to wipe down door handles and other high traffic areas.
You may also consider doing the following:
- restrict open house attendance to one group at a time;
- ask visitors to limit physically touching items in the home;
- refrain from greeting others with handshakes or hugs;
- encourage clients to thoroughly clean and disinfect house after open houses or viewings;
- request clients or attendees to notify you if they become ill within two weeks of an open house or showing. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, communicate this with the homeowner and other attendees if possible;
- avoid sharing items such as phones, tablets or laptops;
- meet clients in private spaces instead of public areas such as coffee shops, coworking spaces or restaurants; and
- encourage fellow REALTORS® to provide information via email or other digital means.
Health Canada suggests practicing “social distancing”—in other words, stay in isolation if you’re showing symptoms of being sick and keep a two-metre radius from others when out in public.
We understand our industry and your day-to-day business is built upon creating relationships with your clients. Not being able to interact with them directly or in a way you’re familiar with might be challenging. That being said, we recommend all members follow the following precautions to help limit the spread of the virus:
- Stay home if you’re showing symptoms of being sick and contact your local health agency to determine whether testing is required.
- If you’ve recently travelled to an “affected area” or been in touch with someone who has, consider staying in self-isolation for up to 14 days.
- Continue regularly and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth and eyes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette.
- Consider bringing sanitization wipes, gels or spray with you when conducting day-to-day business outside of your home or office, especially if you’re meeting with clients face-to-face.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, please don’t panic. Stay informed, prepare yourself and your family and pay attention to advice from health officials.