Real estate open houses are permitted this Friday, July 16, under Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen.
We know that a large portion of Ontario REALTORS® are in no hurry to start hosting open houses. Digital tools, virtual home tours, and in-person scheduled showings have proven effective over the last year, and REALTORS® should continue to rely on these tools and practices to help their clients buy and sell homes.
Open houses should be used as a last resort to market a home and only employed at a seller’s request and with the seller’s approval.
OREA’s number one priority is to protect the health and safety of our REALTORS® and their clients. With that in mind, we have crafted guidance for OREA Members on conducting safe open houses in Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen.
OREA’s guidance includes:
- Provisions Members are required to follow under the Provincial regulations;
- Key questions to ask yourself & clients; and
- Practices you can utilize to operate an open house in Step 3.
Here’s what’s covered in our guidance:
- Request self-screening of COVID-19. Post signage on the property entryway door stating that if people have been ill, have symptoms of COVID-19, have come in contact with a person with symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should not enter the home.
- Set a time limit. Limit the time each group spends inside the residence to ensure all guests have the opportunity to see the home during open house hours.
- Set a limit on guests. While indoor gathering limits have increased, limit the number of people in the house to a maximum of three people (including the buyer’s sales representative if they are attending with the buyers), to allow for physical distancing.
- Require PPE use. Ensure masks or face coverings are worn inside at all times, as physical distancing may not always be possible. Consider providing this PPE outside the entrance of the residence. Municipalities may have by-laws regarding the use of masks where business is being conducted. Be sure to review any such by-laws in your municipality.
- Manage the flow of traffic. If a line forms outside, people should be staggered 6’ apart. Consider signage or markers to this effect. In the home, plan and direct safe traffic flow by considering an alternate exit to the entrance and posting signage informing guests of the traffic flow through the home. Have an assistant manage physical distancing outside and inside the home and for people registering. While a showing is in progress, place a sign on the door to indicate that and ask other guests to wait in a queue or their cars.
- Sanitize hands before and after. Provide hand sanitizer at the door and require guests to disinfect before entry.
- Ensure proper ventilation. Where possible, ensure that the property’s AC unit has been turned on, or open windows to ventilate the space.
- Enforce ‘no touching’ rules. Open all the interior doors and closet doors and turn on lights so that any open house visits can be completed without touching these surfaces. The listing REALTOR® should be available to open cabinets, storage spaces, blinds, etc.
- An alternative is to provide gloves as people enter the home so guests can touch without the risk of outside germs. If this alternative is used, all other steps outlined in this document still need to be taken out of heightened precaution.
- Sanitize. Disinfect surfaces, door handles and parts of the house that guests come in close contact with both before and after the open house.
- Protocols for multi-tenanted properties. For multi-tenanted properties like condominiums, discuss with the seller whether building management has any COVID-19 safety protocols to be aware of and incorporate those into your plan. Also, enlist the help of an assistant to manage entry to the building and other common area, and ensure physical distancing can be maintained between consumers in common areas.
To read OREA’s guidance on safe in-person showings click here.
To sum up, open houses should be used as a last resort to market a home and only employed at a seller’s request and with the seller’s approval. As we move into Step Three of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen, we trust that our Members will continue to put health and safety first while doing what you have always done best – helping Ontarians achieve the dream of a place to call home.
I am so proud of the leadership REALTORS® have shown in protecting Ontario communities. On behalf of OREA’s Board of Directors – thank you, and please stay safe.