Showing Practices with COVID-19
Cool, cool. So today I am talking about COVID-19 and the best showing practices for it. I'm going to start out by talking about the Fair Housing Compliance during COVID first off, are you allowed to ask someone if they have COVID? A lot of Fair Housing laws prevent you from asking certain questions to people regarding certain things about them. Usually, anti-discrimination laws prohibit certain questions about disabilities, since COVID-19 is highly contagious and very dangerous. Federal agencies relapsed this prohibition and they issued guidance to employers, permissible for realtors to ask someone to self disclose any symptoms or known potential exposures to the virus. So you can ask someone if they have been exposed or have any symptoms that they know of on the virus. While they're permissible for realtors, we know that many individuals who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic so it's very important to still take these precautions and these regulations, regardless if someone does have it, or does have symptoms, or has come in contact with somebody who does have it.
One thing is to try not to ask, to restrict children from coming to any showings, as this is still covered in Fair Housing laws. You're not allowed to discriminate against children, rather. And we'll talk about this a little bit later in the slides, you can try to put in a policy to restrict how many people can actually come to these showings. Some good things to think about before conducting showings, encouraged by buyers to narrow property search through photos, video tours, and other technology available to them before coming to look. Video tours and 3D tours have become so very important during this time because a lot of buyers are going to be looking.
That's going to be their first impression, and give a good idea of what the homes look like and all of that good stuff. Consider adopting a policy for maybe requiring pre-qualification letters before having buyers come through your house. This is just to make sure you're only getting serious and qualified buyers coming through, rather than having a bunch of looky-loos come around. Discussing with the seller any precautions that you want to take when showing their property, and listen to any specific requirements your seller might have. Your seller might want to block off something or have a certain part of their bedroom not touched at all. So make sure you're listening to whatever they want. Require property to be shown by appointments only. Request both seller and buyer disclose if they have COVID-19 or any symptoms. Discourage non-essential people from coming to the showing like I kind of said.
Maybe put a limit or a cap on how many people you can allow at shows. During in-person showings, obviously the six-foot social distance distancing recommendations, everybody knows about that, so try to adhere to that. Avoid shaking hands with any clients, this is kind of a given nowadays as well. As I said, limit the number of people that can come to a showing, set such as for. Once people come in, require them to immediately wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer before they start looking through cabinets, or touching appliances, or fixtures, or whatever it may be. Require that masks and face coverings are worn at all times. Advise the parties that are touring your listing to respect the property, and try to restrict as much as they can on touching things, such as cabinet handles, bathrooms, light switches, whatever it may be. Just try to make sure they know that they need to limit their touching of items. Instruct buyers and anyone on the property not to use the bathrooms at the home.
Once the showing is over, one thing to wipe down any services or fixtures that seem to be touched during the showing. Do this with a sanitizing wipe, recommend the sellers to do the same, just so you know you've touched on everything. Doing it twice over isn't a bad thing. Wipe down the key and lockboxes at the property because that is obviously being touched. If you're able to speak with the buyers, try to do it outside the property, don't stay inside the property. Go outside to a ventilated area or arrange a talk on the phone. Follow up electronically instead of doing paper documents at the showing, try to limit that.
And then a couple of common questions regarding local regulations. As we know the limit on 10 people in a public area. Does the indoor gathering limit of 10 people apply to open houses? And the answer is yes. Regardless of size, all gatherings must maintain at least six feet of social distancing. Usually at an open house, if there's a lot of people in there, you can't really maintain that six feet of social distance so you might look into modifying your open house, maybe allowing one or two families at a time to make sure that you can maintain that six feet. Also, you can't have more than 10 people. Does the indoor gathering limit of 10 people applied to businesses and offices? No, the gathering limit applies only to indoor social gatherings, so businesses and offices are open and they're available to have more than 10 people. Are face coverings required at open houses? The Governor's order doesn't really talk about this, but it's kind of safe to say that these open houses are, and in fact, indoor spaces, open to the public so it's usually good practice to require that.
People coming to open houses should at least have a face covering on, so that is it. And those are just some good practices when talking about showing properties during COVID. Any questions?
What are your thoughts on virtual open houses?
I think, I mean, that's very cool and people probably are more comfortable with it. I personally haven't done one yet, so I don't know how it would go, but I think a lot more people would be comfortable with it rather than jam-packing a house. I mean, I would recommend it.