July 22, 2020:
TORONTO, ON – With Ontario moving into Stage Three of its Framework for Reopening the Province, the big change for home buyers and sellers is the removal of government prohibitions on open houses.
While open houses are permitted in regions entering Stage 3, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) is recommending that REALTORS® counsel their clients to use electronic tools first and to the greatest extent possible including virtual tours. OREA is also urging REALTORS® to continue to do scheduled safe showings in-person. If a seller insists on open houses, OREA is providing guidance on how to do them safely for clients, guests and REALTORS®.
“REALTORS® are trusted professionals who have consistently put the health and safety of Ontarians before business, using virtual tools and safe showings,” says Sean Morrison, President of OREA. “While open houses are once again permitted by the Province, we are encouraging Members to work with their clients to use virtual tools and scheduled safe showings first. These tools have been successful in limiting in person contact and saving buyers and sellers time. If an open house is insisted upon by the client, OREA has prepared guidance on how REALTORS® can do them safely.”
OREA safe open house practices
OREA is recommending the following measures be considered in conjunction with all relevant and applicable advice, recommendations and instructions from public health officials:
Post a clear protocol. Outside the residence for open house guests to follow.
Request self-screening of COVID-19. Post signage on the property entryway door stating that if people have been ill, have symptoms of COVID-19, have come in contact with a person with symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19, they should not enter the home.
Set a time limit. Limit the time each group spends inside the residence to ensure all guests have the opportunity to see the home during open house hours.
Set a limit on guests. While indoor gathering limits have increased, limit the number of people in the house to groups of two plus their REALTOR®, to allow for physical distancing.
Require PPE use. Ensure masks or face coverings are worn inside at all times. Consider providing this PPE outside the entrance of the residence. Municipalities may have by-laws regarding the use of masks where business is being conducted. Be sure to review any such by-laws in your municipality.
Manage the flow of traffic. If a line forms outside, people should be staggered at least 6 feet’ apart. Consider signage or markers to this effect. Have an assistant manage physical distancing outside the home and for people registering. While a showing is in progress, place a sign on the door to indicate that and ask other guests to wait in a queue or in their cars.
Sanitize & disinfect surfaces before and after. Provide hand sanitizer at the door and require guests to disinfect before entry. Disinfect surfaces, door handles and parts of the house that guests come in close contact with both before and after the open house.
Enforce ‘no touching’ rules. Open all of the interior doors and closet doors and turn on lights so that any open house visits can be completed without guests having to touch these surfaces. The listing REALTOR® should be available to open cabinets, storage spaces, blinds, etc.
Protocols for multi-tenanted properties. For multi-tenanted properties like condominiums, discuss with the seller whether building management has any COVID-19 safety protocols to be aware of and incorporate those into your plan. Also, enlist the help of an assistant to manage entry to the building and other common areas, and to ensure physical distancing can be maintained between consumers in common areas.
To read OREA’s Stage Three guidance for real estate transactions click here.