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COVID-19 AND REAL ESTATE SERVICES - REDUCING THE RISK

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Real estate services were identified as essential services by the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in March 2020. They were encouraged to remain open and to follow public health orders to reduce the spread of the virus. WorkSafeBC, in consultation with the real estate industry, subsequently formalized safety guidelines in the form of a six page set of protocols in May 2020. They were designed to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the conduct of real estate services.

The following is extracted from this document and outlines some of the key measures directed to Realtors®, which have direct implications to buyers and to sellers, The full document can be found at https://www.worksafebc.com.

The provision of virtual services - Correspond with clients and potential buyers through email, telephone, or video/teleconference. Use technology to draft and execute any written service agreements, or standard forms including electronic signatures for documents. Offer virtual viewings or virtual open houses where possible. Provide potential buyers with online access to property documents including strata documents, market research, community development documents, etc.

In-person viewings - Prohibit anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 from attending in-person viewings including those under order by the public health officer to self-isolate due to international travel or known exposure to COVID-19. Post signage at the property promoting the proper physical distancing requirement. Provide hand wash bottles with soap or hand sanitiser to persons viewing the property. Conduct viewings by appointment only. With the permission of clients and consumers and where practicable, document names and contact information of all people attending a property viewing in accordance with all privacy policies. If possible, request that current occupants or landlord disinfect frequently touched surfaces prior to any viewings.

Hygiene and Disinfection Considerations - Encourage the use of masks, gloves and shoe covers at viewings. Avoid using the property’s washrooms. Ensure clients practice good respiratory etiquette. Schedule viewings that allow for adequate time to disinfect high touch surfaces, eg. light switches, handrails, door handles, and allow for air flow throughout the property.