With the coronavirus pandemic preventing real estate agents from holding open houses and in-person showings, buyer's agents have had to pivot. It’s no longer about visiting a half dozen places with an excited couple shopping for their very first house. Realtors now have a bigger job — to give their buyers access to homes for sale in a safe way. This can mean going the virtual route, where the Realtor is the only person entering the home. It can also mean taking additional precautions for the safety of everyone involved in buying or selling a home.
Keep safety on your mind
Staying healthy while still showing homes means thinking about everyone’s health and personal safety. For agents, that includes your own well-being, your clients’ health, and the welfare of the current owners of a home. Even if you are able to bring clients in with you for a showing, practice the highest level of safety to show you really care about others. This means taking a variety of precautions whenever you enter a home, no matter who’s with you. Here are 4 easy tips to keep in mind:
1. Limit guests at showings
If you’re not going to a showing alone, it’s essential you limit the number of people that join you. You want to continue practicing social distancing, which can prove challenging with more than about four people. The National Association of Realtors suggests that you pre-screen clients for coronavirus. Make sure they’re not running a fever, weren’t exposed to a person with coronavirus in the last two weeks, and don’t currently have any symptoms. Upon entering the home, you and your clients should wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. You can also suggest people remove their shoes or cover them with booties. These actions limit the spread of coronavirus and prove you prioritize health all around.
2. Wear mask and gloves
For an additional layer of protection, you should wear a mask and gloves while inside the home. The mask is only necessary if there are other people there with you. It works the hardest at keeping your germs away from others. Gloves are more of a personal preference. Even without them, avoid touching surfaces whenever possible. While in the home, make sure you don’t touch your face without sanitizing your hands first.
3. Use disinfecting wipes when on site
As an extra courtesy, bring along a small package of disinfecting wipes to use on the front door. The CDC recommends all frequently touched surfaces get cleaned regularly. When a home is for sale, this includes the outside of the front door handle and anything a Realtor must touch to access the home. Make sure to wipe off the handle, keys, and key holder before and after you’ve touched them. This keeps the risk of germs spreading to a minimum.
4. Reduce physical contact
The less you touch when inside a home, the less likely you are to spread or interact with germs. The best way to minimize contact is to ask the owner to lend a hand. Before you arrive for your showing, ask the owner to turn on all the lights and open all interior doors. You can even request they open curtains and pull up blinds. That way you won’t go through the home touching something in every room.
Avoid touching counters and looking in cabinets if possible. If there is something you want to open or touch, make sure only one person comes into contact with the item. Then, use those disinfecting wipes to clean the surface.
Focus only on serious shoppers
Another way Realtors have had to adjust their process with buyers is in the approach. It’s no longer acceptable to put people at risk for a casual walkthrough of a home. Realtors must work with buyers to ensure they’re serious before scheduling a showing of any kind. Whether it’s in person or through the lens of a phone, buyers should feel like they may really want to buy first.
This puts additional pressure on agents. What happens if a buyer loves a home on their virtual tour, but hates it once they see it in person? This is why it’s important to be thorough with your clients when they’re looking at a home. Allow them to watch a virtual walkthrough more than once. Encourage them to do their research. Have clients look at pictures of the property, ask questions, and learn about the neighborhood. A serious buyer should feel connected to the entire area. If there’s any hesitation, suggest they wait until it’s safe to visit a home in person. States are beginning to allow this activity again, but with extreme caution. Remind buyers that the way we buy and sell homes today may change, and while the virtual experience can come close, it isn’t the same as a real visit.
Avoid visits altogether
Perhaps the safest way to “show” your clients a home today is to avoid a visit all together. Even when you enter a home alone, you’re potentially putting the homeowner at risk, so try and work directly with them as an alternative. Ask them to serve as your eyes. There’s no reason the current owner can’t host a Zoom call for you. This gives the buyer a live tour of the property, which you can help direct, all without anyone having to enter the home.
Since this is a lot to ask, make sure you’re courteous about the request. Acknowledge this is a big favor that can benefit everyone. It may help sell the house and get your clients their dream home all thanks to a guest videographer.
Remain flexible and polite
Regardless of how you show a home today, as a Realtor the most important thing is to minimize the health risk for everyone. You’re initiating the request to enter the home, so it’s up to you to maintain proper safety measures. Whether this means not going into the home at all, creating a virtual experience, or providing clients with the right safety equipment, this is an opportunity to show what kind of real estate agent you are. Show your professionalism and care by the careful approach you take to each showing.
Read more: Why It's Still a Good Time to Buy a Home