Like every area of business, real estate is feeling the impact of coronavirus and those in the industry are adapting quickly to stay safe, reduce the spread of COVID-19, and minimize business impact. This article will point you to a number of resources and guides to help you conduct your business safely, while staying productive to prepare for the increased activity that’s expected as the pandemic subsides.
“February’s sales of over 5 million homes were the strongest since February 2007… For the past couple of months, we have seen the number of buyers grow as more people enter the market. Once the social-distancing and quarantine measures are relaxed, we should see this temporary pause evaporate, and will have potential buyers return with the same enthusiasm.”
– Lawrence Yun
Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors
February 2020 Existing Home Sales Report – National Association of Realtors
Guidance For Agents And Brokers
You probably have lots of questions about how coronavirus changes your daily business activities – questions such as:
- Can you ask clients or colleagues about their health or travel history?
- Can you refuse to drive potential clients?
- What precautions should brokers consider taking in their offices?
We recommend reviewing and following the guidance from the National Association of Realtors for open houses, transactions, Shelter-in-Place, along with many other aspects of conducting business during this time. Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS® was published on March 30th and provides answers to many common questions about COVID-19 and running your real estate business.
40% of members nationally reported they suspended holding open houses in the “2020 NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse,” conducted March 16-17, 2020.
What effect does a “Shelter In Place” order have on open houses? What if your client insists on holding one? Guidance from NAR on open houses offers advice for these situations and suggests leveraging technology as much as possible to replace in-person open houses.
Agents have quickly turned to technology to share property tours online instead of in-person and there are many very accessible ways to make this happen, even if you have no experience. Our article on creating virtual tours will show you how to get started quickly and inexpensively.
Virtual tours can be added to open house fields in some MLSs while other MLSs have disabled the use of open house fields. You can look up your MLS in our IDX coverage page to confirm if open house fields are available. It’s still a good idea to double check with your MLS in case your MLS has not notified us about a change in their open house field policy.
Resources For Employers
To remain compliant with OSHA, employers can access a compilation of advice from the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration in “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19”.
The guidance provides employers with detailed steps they can take to protect employees, including:
- Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
- Prepare to implement basic infection prevention measures
- Develop policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation sick people, if appropriate
- Develop, implement, and communicate about workplace flexibility and protections
- Implement workplace controls
NAR has provided a Sample Preparedness Plan for Circumstances Relating to COVID-19 that any real estate brokerage or association may adapt and implement in their workplaces.
Productivity And Communication Tools
There are lots of online tools to help you stay productive and in communication, many of which are free or very inexpensive. Once you try some, you may even find them to be indispensable after this pandemic is over. Check out NAR’s article How to Stay Productive and In Communication for some ideas.