08 Jul What You Need to Know: Navigating COVID-19 as a Real Estate Agent in British Columbia
In British Columbia, REALTORS® are considered essential service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, the real estate industry hasn’t necessarily continued as normal in light of COVID-19. Over the past few months, industry experts and newcomers alike have expressed various questions and concerns in regards to how we, as a community, proceed with new safety measures in place. For those consumers who move ahead with buying or selling properties, there are specific steps REALTORS® and consumers can take to protect their health and the health of the greater community. In this article, we’ve gathered useful information from real estate associations and healthcare experts to ensure you can navigate this new normal safely while continuing to grow your business as a real estate professional.
What You Need to Know
- Real estate agent services are considered essential services by the Government of British Columbia and can continue to operate at locations accessible to the public, ensuring that they implement appropriate sanitation and social distancing measures.
- There are new safety protocols and guidelines from the Provincial Health Office and WorkSafeBC, as well as your brokerage’s policies and procedures. While these guidelines may change, they are considered the foundation for the protocols you, as a real estate agent in BC, are required to develop before you resume open houses.
- There are helpful financial tools in place to assist real estate professionals during this time: CERB is now available for up to 6 months according to the Government of Canada’s website (eligibility dependant). FRAME also offers a commission advance that can get you the money into your bank account by end-of-day with proof of a signed deal. Click here to get started.
Best Practices for BC Realtors During COVID
- New adapted open-house practices to protect consumers
- According to the British Columbia Real Estate Association, recommendations include “limiting open house attendees to serious buyers by leveraging technology tools and screening for qualifying consumers; encouraging pre-registration and/or scheduling attendance; having assistance to ensure physical distancing measures are followed inside and outside the home; and other considerations for multi-tenanted properties.” Some realtors are keeping it simple via a quick call or text to the hosting agent before attending an open house, but there are many ways to track and manage attendance for realtors.
- BCREA has also recommended that all open house attendees, including Realtors, wear a mask and minimize physical contact with the home
- Limiting the number of individuals allowed in the home at one time is another helpful to ensuring everyone’s safety; encourage consumers to wait in their car or line up outside while maintaining physical distancing from other waiting consumers
- Use technology to your advantage and educate your clients on online tools which allow them to explore the market from the comfort of their homes
- Use 3D scans to create an open house experience. With a whole floor plan, users can go through a home and get a good idea of the layout.
- Host a virtual broker’s open house with a self-shot video tour. Use a chat platform such as Facetime with the seller agent and buyer agent doing a virtual walk through a home.
- Use virtual staging to fill an empty house so you don’t have to rely on a real stager putting real furniture in, or getting it out.
- Check-in and review offers virtually in Zoom or Google Hangouts, where documents can be shared and gone over together in real time.
- Use e-signing, e-closing and mobile notary services.
- Other safety measures to keep in mind (Source: BCREA):
- Confirm with the seller that the home has been cleaned and that common spaces are disinfected. This should include door handles, counters, light switches or anywhere someone may touch.
- Provide hand sanitizer/disinfectant at the door and recommend that everyone use it.
- Keep a list of everyone who has attended the property in case contact tracing becomes necessary.
- Make sure they are aware of how their personal information is being collected/used and disclosed.
- Abide by the schedule you have in place and encourage consumers to wait in their car or line up outside while keeping two metres away from other waiting consumers.
- If possible, set out markers or barriers to help ensure two metre’s distance is kept between consumers.
- Ensure that all lights are on, all doors are open (including closets) and all areas a consumer may want to see are accessible.
- Limit the number of individuals allowed into a home at one time based on the size of the property. Have a plan to communicate this to consumers, and ensure they wait until they are invited to enter the home or the multi-tenanted property.
- Remain two metres away from consumers during the showing.
- Don’t shake consumers’ hands or engage in physical contact.
- If you have the onset of a fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal symptoms, or any other cold or flu-like symptoms, stay home for 10 days. Should you continue to feel unwell after 10 days, continue to self isolate. Use HealthLink BC’s online assessment tool to determine your next steps.