COVID-19: The rules to follow when visiting a property
In order to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19, visiting a house for sale must be done in compliance with hygiene and social distancing measures issued by public health authorities.
As long as the health situation so requires, it will be in the buyer’s and the seller’s best interest to hold their initial talks by phone, email or video call, before even planning a visit. The idea here is to make sure that the property truly meets the buyer’s budget and needs, for instance by talking about the desired occupancy date, the property’s features and mortgage prequalification.
Don’t hesitate to go over the listing together, including the photos, the 3D virtual tour (if available) and the property description. You can also think about showing the potential buyer around the place virtually, by video call.
Follow these hygiene measures
If the initial discussions look very promising, it’s time to make an appointment. However, it is strongly recommended to delay the visit if the buyer or someone they’ve been in contact with develops cold or flu symptoms or has travelled in the previous14 days.
Here are the best practices to follow during the visit:
- Limit the number of people present, e.g., the owner plus one visitor at a time if possible.
- Keep children and seniors (aged 70+) away during the visit.
- Maintain a 6-foot (2-metre) distance at all times.
- The owner should open doors and cupboards to keep visitors from touching them.
- All parties should wash their hands before and after the visit.
The owner is also asked to disinfect bannisters and other possible contact surfaces in the property before the visitor arrives and after they leave.
Being careful during an open house
While it’s better to plan visits with serious buyers, it’s still possible to organize an open house while still limiting the pandemic-related risks. The measures to take during an open house are generally the same as for a planned visit. For instance, it’s important to minimize the number of people inside the home, wash your hands and maintain a 2-metre distance from others at all times.
If several people arrive at once, they must wait outside, while keeping a 2-metre distance from each other. During that time, the owners may start talking to the visitors about the property and about the potential buyers’ needs. The homeowner can disinfect all potential contact surfaces after every visitor’s tour is over.
There is an advantage, in the current circumstances, to buying and selling a home without a go-between. The seller keeps control over the visit and avoids having a stranger touching their personal effects. And potential buyers get answers to their questions directly from the seller during the visit. Afterwards, the negotiations and the conclusion of the transaction can be done remotely thanks to the available technological tools.