You’re right: Open Houses are currently banned by the government because of the pandemic. While you should discuss having multiple showings in a single day with your salesperson, back-to-back showings and Open Houses are not safe or practical.
I caution anyone against trying to find a loophole in the rules. It is important to note that Open Houses have been banned since late March for good reasons. A necessary decision made in consultation with medical authorities, the ban is helping to protect the health and safety of everyone in Ontario.
In addition to the health risks, ignoring the ban could result in fines being issued to the property owner, buyers who attend, and disciplinary action against the brokerages and salespeople involved.
Many real estate brokerages and salespeople are currently offering digital services as alternatives to hosting Open House visits. The added bonus is that more people can view a property from their own home. Such things as videos, virtual tours and live-video walk-throughs are helping to limit face-to-face meetings and public gatherings, as requested by public health authorities.
If, after speaking with your salesperson and brokerage, you decide that scheduling multiple, same-day showings works for you and the brokerage, you will need to take special care. Protocols and requirements must be established that your salesperson can then follow and share with potential buyers.
You will need to ensure that same-day showings are scheduled far enough apart to allow the time needed to sanitize high-touch areas, like door handles and countertops, between visits. Be mindful that special considerations will be needed to accommodate schedules between buyers and their salespersons, your time, and that of your salesperson to ensure there is no risk of overlapping showing times.
Other considerations may include requesting that all visitors complete a voluntary risk-exposure questionnaire in advance of confirming a showing, that they complete a temperature check before entering the property, and that each person wear a mask and gloves. You may consider arranging for masks and gloves to be provided on-site.
Inside the property, doors should be opened, and all lights turned on prior to visits to reduce the need for visitors to touch common surfaces.
With the nice weather upon us, opening windows helps to increase the circulation of fresh air. Once showings are done for the day, all high-touch surfaces should be cleaned/sanitized again before you and your family return to the property.
While it is not business as usual in real estate, with due diligence and careful planning we have seen many successful transactions take place since the beginning of the pandemic. Best of luck with your sale — and stay safe!
Contributed By: Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.