It’s been almost a month since The Bay Area shelter in place (SIP) went into effect. The good news is that our collective efforts appear to be bending the curve in California, according to Governor Newsom’s address yesterday. And talk in San Francisco Realtor circles is turning to how we should initially begin reopening real estate after the government lifts the SIP.
We are currently unable to have open houses, broker tours, and most physical showings. (Agents have been doing lockbox showings, but largely for vacant, single-family homes.) So what’s a safe, post-SIP strategy for buyers and agents to see properties while they maintain their social distance and not spread the virus?
The ground rule here is that things will be anything but normal in the absence of a vaccine, adequate hospital staff/supplies to fight a potential surge, large-scale contact tracing and testing.
Until then, here are my recommendations for what will be the new normal in the foreseeable future:
For Single-Family Homes:
– By appointment within a given timeframe, so listing agent can control the number of people visiting the property and limit attendees to serious buyers and agents.
– Buyers and sellers sign the California Association of Realtors (CAR) Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory Addendum, acknowledging the risks of physical showings during a pandemic. You can check out the current version here, which CAR will likely revise after the SIP ends: Coronavirus Property Entry Addendum.
– Buyers submit a current preapproval letter/proof of funds from a lender to demonstrate that they are qualified to purchase.
– Everyone wears face masks and disposable shoe covers, gloves ideal.
– Limit the number of people in the property at one time, just like the grocery stores do it. Everyone will need to maintain a six-foot distance from one another, which should guide capacity.
– No touching appliances, doorknobs, etc without gloves on.
– Visitors waiting outside stay at least six feet apart.
For Condos and Multi-Unit Buildings:
– All of the above, plus agent needs homeowners association (HOA) permission for open houses and showings.
– There should be a person opening the building door and escorting people to an elevator or staircase to reach the unit.
– Any movement within common areas (fitness centers, roof decks, etc) requires agent escort.
– Agents and buyers should travel separately to a property (no carpooling).
– Agent opens up property, buyers enter separately and agent wipes down obvious touch points (doorknobs, light switches) with disinfectant, prior to locking up.
– If on lockbox, listing agent should schedule appointments to avoid multiple parties arriving simultaneously.
Thanks to all my San Francisco colleagues for doing the right thing and staying at home during the SIP. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.