There is no doubt that life has become somewhat easier under Covid level 2, and this progression towards normality will continue as and when we move to level 1. Irrespective of when these changes occur though, it is very apparent that the threat of Covid is not going to go away in the short term and the basic rules under which we are able to operate now are likely to apply for some time yet. In all facets of our lives, it is simply a case of accepting the situation we are in, working within the terms and conditions imposed on us and keeping safe to keep Covid at bay.
The last month or so has been a difficult time for those needing to make life changing personal and business decisions but closures and lock downs have not deterred the enthusiasm of some. Property sales have continued, albeit at a lower-than-normal level with the electronic media playing a big part in the property viewing and negotiation processes. Some property transactions have been consummated without the purchasers having an opportunity to conduct a live viewing of their new home. It is pleasing for all concerned that we have now moved to a level where inspections are permitted.
It is of equal importance though, that we continue to observe the industry and government protocols that are designed for our protection. For the information of home buyers and sellers we list below some of the dos and don’ts that apply under Level 2, and will still be good practice to observe under level 1 when we reach that milestone.
REAL ESTATE OFFICES: Offices are open to the public but the usual rules around social distancing, registering your visit, using available hand sanitizer and face masks apply. Planning visits to avoid large groupings of clients and staff at any one time is recommended. Clients and staff with health issues are urged to avoid office visitations.
APPRAISALS & LISTINGS: Real estate agents may visit properties to carry out appraisals and listings provided they can do so safely with regard to social distancing and hygiene etiquette. If the property is tenanted, approval of the tenant for any visit is mandatory. Visits by photographers or home stagers etc. are permitted but again with social distancing being observed. Telephone or video communication is preferred where possible, as is the use of digital marketing in lieu of letterbox drops.
TRANSPORTING CUSTOMERS: This is better avoided, but where necessary agents must request the client to confirm in writing that they have not been unwell with flu-like symptoms, self-isolating or been in contact with a confirmed Covid case. The agent needs to record details of the interaction including date, time, and name etc. Covid information and hygiene requirements to customer beforehand must be e-mail to the client beforehand.
OPEN HOMES: Open homes may take place provided contact tracing systems are in place. The number of people in a home at any one time must be limited to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. No more than 10 people at any one time including agents is recommended. This may mean staggering access to the property and requiring attendees to wait outside the property until prior attendees leave. Vacant properties are to be treated as if the property is occupied. The rights of tenants must be observed and their cooperation and approval is necessary for any open home or client visitation.
PRIVATE VIEWINGS: As with open homes, viewings may take place but observing all the rules and regulations pertaining to registration of clients, social distancing, and hygiene requirements. Where possible, homeowners should be encouraged to vacate the property during open homes or individual inspections. Any inspection is to be contactless were possible, with the agent being responsible for opening any doors and cupboards prior to the client’s visit.
SALE AND PURCHASE AGREEMENTS: Agreements can be negotiated and executed in person, provided it can be done safely and the usual Covid rules covering health and safety are observed. Discussions should be held by telephone or video call where possible to minimise face to face contact. Parties should use their own pens when executing documents.
PRE-SETTLEMENT INSPECTIONS: Pre-settlement inspection can take place observing Covid rules and protocols.
Covid levels 1 and 2 provide a far greater degree of flexibility in the way we can facilitate the sale and purchase of residential property as compared with levels 3 and 4. We still have a responsibility though to protect those we employ and the large and loyal client base we deal with. The real estate profession is committed to working with the Government and our communities to prevent the spread of Covid 19. As a member of the Real Estate Institute of NZ, Tommy’s share this objective and with the cooperation of our clients, we will observe the industry protocols and do our utmost to protect our people and those who interact with us during these difficult times.
Thank you for your support and cooperation.
For more information on the pandemic, please visit covid19.govt.nz