Following my prior post titled COVID-19 When It Comes To Real Estate, It’s Not Business As Usual, I received some inquires seeking clarity on what we in the real estate profession can and cannot do during these challenging circumstances.

First, we are not restricted from trading in real estate at least not yet.  We are simply being urged not to.  As previously stated this directive comes from the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).  The primary mandate of RECO is to enforce the rules that real estate salespeople, brokers, and brokerages must follow.  Overall this is to protect the public interest through a fair, safe and informed marketplace.

There is no mistaking that COVID-19 poses a real threat to us all.  The urging by RECO for us not to trade in real estate at the current time is to help fight the spread of the virus thus protecting the public-at-large as well as seller, buyers and ourselves.  My brokerage Sotheby’s International Realty Canada was one of the first offices in the area to close.  Most of us are working from home including our administrative staff in Toronto.  Personally I have refrained from listing any properties for sale, most sellers are willing to wait and given the current circumstances they do not want people in their homes anyway.

At the same time some people simply have to sell and or buy and to comply with RECO while providing the utmost in due care to their clients, most Brokerages have established a policy and a protocol to facilitate this while we also adhere the provincial “State of Emergency” legal requirements. The following is summary list of things to avoid and what the alternatives are that will us to continue to list and sell properties when necessary.

  • We have been urged to cease face-to-face business unless absolutely necessary whereby sellers and buyers have no alternative but to sell or buy a property. Conference calls or Face Time are viable alternatives for communication with clients
  • It is now illegal for REALTORS® to hold or participate in public Open Houses. We are endeavouring to verify if virtual Open Houses can be held using media such as Facebook Live.
  • Buyers are urged to view online virtual tours and photos prior to requesting a property showing in person.
  • All document signing either for a Listing Agreement or for an Agreement of Purchase of Sale and others is to be done using electronic signatures versus paper copies.
  • If a property is to remain active in the MLS® System, it must be available to show following the policy and protocol as established by the listing Brokerage.  If sellers wish to decline showings due to the risks posed by COVID-19, the MLS® listing should be suspended until such time as we are no longer under the provincial State of Emergency.

For those sellers that wish to maintain their home listed for sale, most Brokerages have established the appropriate protocol to minimzie the health risk to consumers posed by the virus.  In the case of Sotherby’s International, we as listing REALTORS are expected to perform the following,

Before Every Property Showing

  • Disinfect the lockbox, all doorknobs, surfaces, light switches and counters with the appropriate antibacterial, germ killing cleaner.
  • Turn on all lights and open all closet and other doors in order to minimize the necessity for buyers and their sales representative to touch any surfaces.
  • Provide hand-sanitizers or germ killing wipes at the entrance door.
  • Provide surgical gloves and or post a note that buyers and their sales representative should not touch surfaces or doorknobs while they are in the home.

Preparing A Home After Property Showings 

  • Disinfect the lockbox, all doorknobs, surfaces, light switches and counters with the appropriate antibacterial, germ killing cleaner.
  • Close all doors and turn off all lights.
  • Maintain a log of who has entered the home and the buyer’s response from their showing.

Again, this is clearly not business as usual.  I showed a property yesterday to buyers that are currently homeless and must buy something in the near term.  We viewed the property following the guidelines above and further, we all wore rubber gloves.

My grandfather, my father and my father’s brother were all dentists.  Back in the day dentistry was done literally “hand-to-mouth” there were no latex gloves.  As a kid I clearly remember how many times my father would wash his hands daily both at work and at home.  His hands were his livelihood and he protected them relentlessly.  That may well be the future all of us live in when out in public but let’s hope otherwise.

In closing, we will get through these troubling times and ultimately we will be better for it.  It will no doubt take time so be patience and lets all continue to give thanks to the front line workers that continue to man our hospitals, grocery stores and other establishments that we simply can’t do without.

Please feel free to Contact Me if you have any questions or concerns relative to your specific real estate situation either now as we fight COVID-19 or in the months ahead.

Stay home. stay healthy and sincere best wishes to you and yours for a safe and happy Easter weekend