The real estate industry emerging from COVID-19 but a new reality anything but normal

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Leave the doors open and all the lights on. This is one of many new guidelines for people opening their homes – perhaps for the first time in months – so that realtors can hold open houses.Some provinces are now allowing open days, with new rules in place, after regulators restricted screenings during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board said earlier this month that open houses would resume, with warnings to would-be home hunters. Visitors to open houses can expect to see signs indicating health precautions, use handwashing stations and sign a visitor log for contact tracing.

Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening plan, which hit much of the province on Friday, also includes open houses as part of its new gathering limits of 50 people, a capacity of 30% , with physical distancing applied.

Regina real estate agent Tim Otitoju says minimizing the need to touch doors and light switches is one of the many ways the open door process has changed.

During screenings, he’s the one who opens any front door – with gloves, disinfected hands and a mask – and he limits the number of people in the house at a time.

Before entering, potential home buyers and sellers answer questionnaires and sign waivers regarding any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19. Vendors who accept the open house must disinfect the house.

The situation is all the more delicate as the owners seek to show the properties occupied by the tenants.

The Ontario Real Estate Board has discouraged private in-person sessions and unnecessary open houses. But RECO does not have the power to require agents to obtain the consent of a tenant.

“The power imbalance that exists between landlord and tenant means that tenants are not always able to express themselves and that they should not feel unsafe at home,” Mazdak Gharibnavaz said in a statement. of the Vancouver Tenants Union, opposing the return of open houses.

While open houses are once again an option in many areas, that doesn’t mean all the vendors are on board, Otitoju explains. Many still prefer to stick to virtual screenings, and Otitoju himself opts for Zoom instead of in-person meetings to review offers.

“I have little shoe covers in the back of my car. My real estate agent tools have certainly changed, ”says Otitoju, an agent at Platinum Realty Specialists.

“I find it works. Now, many people who come to open houses are in the market to buy this type of house. Time for open houses as a hobby – now is not the time to do it. this now. Buyers know this. Salespeople know this. Real estate agents know this. ”

This is all part of the evolution of the real estate sales process.

It may seem obvious that for a purchase as big as a house, nobody wants to buy an invisible show. But Anthony Hitt says even buyers of expensive properties are seeing the benefits of virtual tools that were popularized during the pandemic.

A visit where a salesperson or agent carries a camera around the house, for example, can allow buyers to take a close look at finishes, views through windows and interior cabinets, says Hitt, president and CEO of Engel. & Volkers Americas.

For sellers, this reassures them that those who end up in person are interested in buying, he says.

Cameron McNeill, who markets pre-built properties in the Vancouver area with MLA Canada, says that although the showrooms have been open for a month, people continue to do more research online before showing up in person appointments.

More like shopping in the car

McNeill predicts that buying homes will become more like buying cars, where much of the research and emotional buying journey takes place before hitting the ground.

“The most precious thing you have is your time,” says Hitt, saying that online visits reduce travel.

“I don’t think we’re going to eliminate open days. We may see less of them and they may come at a different time in the process… I don’t think a lot of consumers, even with masks and all the precautions, are willing to burn out and be in a crowded property. ”

It was common to share a meal with a client, but that’s not on Otitoju’s mind these days, he says.

“I don’t remember the last time I shook someone’s hand,” says Otitoju. “It’s not the only way to build relationships. You build relationships with your actions, and people see it. “

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