Tips for Staying Safe as a Real Estate Agent during the COVID-19 Outbreak | Olga Judith Valenzuela
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Tips for Staying Safe as a Real Estate Agent during the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Coronavirus outbreak has naturally caused many people to take more precautions and be more careful to avoid possibly spreading the virus or coming in contact with it. The real estate industry is hit especially hard by this virus because so much of the housing business is about interacting with home buyers and sellers. 

The main challenge a lot of agents are facing these days is the question of the open house, one of the oldest and most common practices in selling a home. While avoiding open houses is the best way to avoid the chance of coming in contact with the virus, this can also be difficult when the livelyhood of agents and their families depend on making the sale.

If you must take part in an open house, here are some tips for keeping you, home buyers, the home sellers, and other agents safe:

  • Instead of having open hours when buyers can come and go, spread potential buyers out in 15- or 30-minute appointments. This gives you enough time to clean up and sanitize between visits, and it also keeps too many people from being on the property at once.
  • Leave all lights on in the house for the entire event or showing. This will keep buyers and their agents from touching the light switches and possibly contaminating them.
  • Set up cleaning stations. Have alcohol-based hand sanitizer available throughout the house, and keep soap, paper towels, and cleaning wipes on the countertop for everyone's use. You might even consider handing out a travel-size sanitizer at the door.
  • Offer booties at the door. Ask all visitors to cover their shoes with booties to avoid contaminating the seller's property.
  • Clean common surfaces between each buyer. Wipe down the doorknobs, cabinet handles, countertops, faucet handles, and other areas the visitors touched before the next one arrives. Do so again when your event comes to a close to protect your sellers.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) encourages agents to be open and honest about the risks of an open house during this time. Recent guidelines released by the trade association ask that agents "Assess the risk based on your specific location, and direct your clients to local and state health authorities for specific information about the severity of the risk in your area."

NAR also recommends using alternative marketing tactics, like virtual and video tours. One brokerage, Redfin, has already begun making virtual tours the norm for its agents. Consider asking your brokerage what alternative options and technologies you could use during this time. It could help both you and your community at large stay healthier in the long run.