What precautions should you take when selling a home during the Coronavirus outbreak?

Your home is your safe place and naturally you want to keep it that way. In the face of the increasing spread of the Coronavirus, homeowners and agents across the country are upping precautions — especially during the showing of homes.

“Apart from washing our hands and keeping everything sanitized—asking people to remove shoes or wear booties is more crucial than ever,” said Philip Scheinfeld, a New York City-based broker.

In addition, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has offered some of the following tips to help its members stay vigilant and healthy.  Please find this under their Showing Guidance During Reopening Section.

Before Conducting In-Person Showings

  • Check state and local executive orders to confirm the permissibility, and any specific requirements, of conducting in-person showings.
  • Encourage buyers to narrow their property search through photos, virtual tours, and leveraging other technology to reduce the number of in-person showings.
  • Consider adopting a policy of asking all buyers for a pre-qualification letter to limit in-person showings only to qualified and serious buyers.
  • Be familiar with state and local restrictions based on whether a property is vacant, owner-occupied, or tenant-occupied, and consider implementing different precautions for occupied properties versus vacant properties.
  • Discuss with a seller the precautions that will be taken when showing their property, and adhere to any specific requirements requested by sellers showing the property.
  • Require property showings by appointment, in lieu of open houses, to reduce the number of persons in a property at any given time.
  • Request both the seller and potential buyers to self-disclose whether they have COVID-19 or exhibit any symptoms. However, note that COVID-19 is also spread by individuals who are asymptomatic.
  • Be aware of any state or local restrictions on the number of people who may be present at the showing, and discourage non-essential parties from attending the showing.
  • Be aware of and comply with fair housing obligations related to COVID-19, see Guidance for Fair Housing Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Ask buyers to remain in their vehicle until you arrive at the property.
  • For owner or tenant-occupied properties, request that the seller or tenant open all cabinets, closets, window coverings, and to turn on lights before leaving the property.
  • For vacant properties, arrive early to open the front door, open all cabinets, closet, window coverings, and to turn on lights.

During In-Person Showings

  • Adhere to social distancing recommendations, and maintain a minimum of six feet of space between persons at all times.
  • Avoid shaking hands with clients.
  • Limit the number of persons who may attend a showing, such as only four people total.
  • Require all persons entering a property to immediately wash their hands or to use hand sanitizer, remove footwear or wear booties, and wear a face mask or covering, and gloves.
  • Instruct buyers and others touring the home to avoid touching any surfaces in the home, such as light switches, cabinet and door handles.
  • Instruct buyers and guests not to use bathroom facilities at the property.
  • Do not share phones, pens, or tablets or other personal property during the showing.
  • Comply with any requirements of the seller during the showing.

After Showing Property

  • Wipe down any surfaces touched during the showing with a sanitizing wipe or disinfecting cleaner, as requested by seller, and suggest the seller also disinfect the property.
  • Wipe down the key and lockbox with a sanitizing wipe or disinfecting cleaner after use.
  • Speak with buyers outside of the property or in a ventilated area while maintaining a distance of 6 feet, or arrange to speak by phone or email.
  • Do not provide any paper documents, and instead follow up with any information electronically after you leave the property.
  • Use hand sanitizer upon returning to your vehicle.
  • Maintain a detailed log of interactions to enable contact tracing, to include names, dates, and locations of interactions, as well as a party’s contact information.

Remember after every showing of the home, NAR recommends cleaning and disinfecting your home, especially commonly touched areas like cabinets, doorknobs and faucet handles.

If the thought of strangers walking in and out of your home is uncomfortable, consider alternative marketing opportunities such as pre-recorded video tours or even a live FaceTime call.

Finally, do not panic, stay informed, and use your best judgment. The situation is rapidly changing, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) will update its risk assessment as needed. Visit the CDC’s website for latest updates.