On June 22, New York City is expected to enter Phase 2 of reopening. As a part of Phase 2, most real estate activities will be able to resume and real estate professionals will be permitted to show listings in person — provided everyone follows state health mandates.
What follows is a handful of takeaways from the guidance and a few suggestions to minimize risk in phase 2. Note that this is in no way a comprehensive guide. Agents should review the complete state guidelines and summary of mandatory and recommended best practices for details.
Note: This guide is intended for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and is not a comprehensive list of the state’s interim guidance. Please read the full guidance.
Limit Showings to 1 Party at a Time and Plan for Distancing
Between new state guidelines and strongly suggested best practices, traditional open houses and group showings are off-limits for the time being. State mandates aim to prevent congregation in or around the property while letting shoppers see it alone or in small groups. So planning ahead will be your best bet.
We recommend reading the full state guidelines. Note that they strongly encourage limiting the number of people at a home showing at any one time:
-State rules “encourage only one party (e.g. building inspector, home appraiser, prospective tenant/buyer, photographer, stager) to be allowed inside the property at a time. If more than one party is inside the property at the same time, six feet of distance must be maintained at all times between individuals, and face coverings must be worn.”
-The guidelines also note that “as a best practice, appointments for showings should be scheduled in advance when possible,” and “[agents/brokers] must stagger showings in order to avoid the congregation of people outside and inside properties.”
-Also: “Showings and open houses will only be allowed in unoccupied … or vacant properties,” according to the guidelines.
-Guidelines say that both agents or brokers and any shoppers, inspectors, appraisers, etc., “will be required to wear a face-covering at all times.” Agents or brokers may also choose to require that gloves and shoe coverings are worn by visitors.
Note that this is just a partial list of the state guidelines for home showings.
Clean and Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces Often
The guidelines state, “Responsible Parties must ensure employees, salespeople, agents and broker clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (e.g. handrails, doorknobs etc.) before and after every showing,” so we suggest bringing cleaning products so you can easily clean those handrails, doorknobs and other commonly touched surfaces after each party’s visit.
When it comes to surfaces like cabinets, doors, and windows, consider opening these in advance to discourage visitors from touching them. It’s also a great idea to point out the fact that you’ve done this to remind home shoppers that you have their health and safety in mind, and make them more conscious of surfaces as they explore the unit.
Skip the Amenities for In-Person Showings
Be mindful of the state’s guidance to avoid showing building amenities (like a gym, roof deck, pool), and instead provide virtual options. If you must show these areas, read up on the regulations so you’re clear on rules around disinfecting them after each showing and maintaining appropriate social distancing of six feet at all times.
Ask That Young Children and Guests Stay Behind
Explain to everyone up front that state regulations say, “Prospective tenants/buyers are encouraged not to bring young children or extraneous guests to property showings, when possible, or leave attended children outside.” It’s helpful to let your clients know this information in advance so they can arrange for a care provider if needed.
Whether you’re speaking with a prospective tenant or buyer, building inspector, home appraiser, or fellow agent, being informed and clear about the state regulations not only ensures you’re adhering to them but also sets others at ease about their safety before they visit in-person.
Avoid Car Rides With Clients
Driving clients around for a multi-home tour over the weekend is common for agents, and a nice way to build a relationship. However, during Phase 2, the state recommends, “Responsible Parties should limit salespeople/brokers from driving in the same car with prospective tenants/buyers. If this cannot be avoided, face coverings must be worn by everyone in the vehicle and frequently touched areas of the vehicle should be cleaned and disinfected.” A good rule of thumb we suggest is to plan on taking separate cars, cabs, public transit, or simply walk.
Don’t Forget Virtual Tours
The safest home-shopping practice of all remains a virtual tour. While many prospective buyers and renters may be keen to get into new homes, continuing to provide virtual tours and video walk-throughs on your listings will help shoppers whittle down their choices and keep everyone safer.
Since the state says, “Responsible Parties are encouraged, but not required, to conduct remote walkthroughs rather than in-person walkthroughs (e.g. recorded/live video), where possible,” remember your options. There are many ways to showcase listings remotely including 3D Home® tours, walkthrough videos, and even live video chat tours over FaceTime or Zoom.
More Showing Tips for NYC Agents During Phase 2
Apart from the state-mandated rules and related suggestions above, here are more tips from us for showing homes in NYC during Phase 2:
-Open all doors (to rooms and closets) before any showings begin. This will greatly reduce the number of times shoppers touch any part of the home.
-Before the showing, turn on all lights and open all window shades. Bringing lots of light into the home will mean shoppers don’t need to do so.
-If it’s nice out, open all windows to increase ventilation.
-Ensure all shoppers are wearing face coverings (and potentially gloves and shoe covers) when they come in.
-Bring extra masks and gloves in case shoppers don’t bring their own. While this is potentially an extra expenditure, it’ll help keep you safe, and your clients at ease.
-Ask that all shoppers remove shoes and jackets at entry, preferably outside the unit. You don’t want to risk outerwear that could be infected getting draped over furniture.
-Ask that any food or drink be left outside.
-Plan a large, preferably outdoor spot to talk to home shoppers after their tour, in order maintain a safe social distance. These days, you don’t want to hold extended conversations in a small kitchen, or anywhere indoors.
As NYC reopens, StreetEasy is here to help. Keep the complete state guidelines and summary of mandatory and recommended best practices handy for complete details. We hope you stay healthy and safe.