Buyers need to be aware that COVID-19 and strategies to mitigate it may impact their property searches for the time being. Self-isolation strategies could impact how properties are being marketed, if in-person viewings are available, or whether the sellers keep the property on the market.
Potential impacts of COVID-19 on processes around viewing properties and present options for mitigating risk to the health of all parties could include but not limited to:
- only showing buyers properties that they are genuinely considering purchasing
- placing viewing conditions, such as for the seller to leave the lights on and doors open, including a few cabinets, closets, and drawers to avoid touching any surfaces
- having you request health and recent travel information from potential sellers and their professionals before any viewing to give the buyer an indication of any risk. Sellers are obligated to either be truthful or simply decline to answer. Inform the buyer that the seller also has the right to request this information of them and can decline to show the property if they choose. You may choose to seek out this information on your own behalf, even if the buyer tells you it’s of no concern to them
- travelling in separate vehicles to viewings to limit the amount of time spent in close proximity to each other
- taking advantage of virtual video tours for initial viewings of properties, understanding that some sellers may require an offer to purchase before viewings, to limit viewers to motivated buyers
- taking precautions during viewings, including wearing nitrile gloves or using alcohol-based, anti-microbial hand sanitizer, and not touching, doorknobs, cupboard hardware, light switches or other surfaces unless necessary. Remember the viewing terms may be subject to negotiation between the parties, and may be impacted by the availability of gloves, masks, etc.
- where feasible, communicate virtually using online meeting tools such as Zoom or Skype
- use electronic signatures for signing documents
- Provide deposits and conduct financial transactions electronically
- if in person meetings are required, maintain a safe distance of at least six feet (two meters) at all time