Carefully. Even in the era of virtual tours and Matterport virtual reality, most buyers will want to actually visit a home for sale prior to making a purchase offer. Photos don’t often show scuffed floors or loose kitchen cabinet hardware – and unless you are there, you don’t know if there are objectionable odors from cooking, pets, or cigarettes.
The priority has to be protecting the health of the homeowners, the buyers, and the agents. The first step is often a COVID-19 “ hold harmless” signed by all parties stating that they are symptom-free and have not had any exposures to COVID-19 within the past 14 days.
Another important element of staying safe is to limit contact on high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs and light switches. Sellers are asked to turn on all the lights and open doors to each room and to the closets. The buyer’s agent should be the only person in the group to touch anything in the house.
Speaking of limiting contact, it goes without saying that each person touring the home must wear Personal Protective Equipment such as a mask and booties. Many also choose to wear gloves, even if they don’t expect to touch anything. Hand sanitizer and/or hand washing should be done before and after seeing each property.
Finally, it’s safest to limit the number of people entering the home. Most agents prefer only one or two adults in addition to the buyer’s agent. Additional family members and children are too hard to watch over during a showing to ensure that they don’t touch anything.
The real estate market continues undaunted. As we have begun exploring the “new normal," we are showing vacant homes rather than those that are owner-occupied. However, as time goes on and we are more comfortable with COVID-19 precautions, many homeowners ARE allowing access while they are still in residence. As long as everyone is mindful of the need to heed precautions, it should be fine.