There is a new phrase on everyone’s lips these days – social distancing. We began hearing it uttered all over the media and in our daily conversations during the first quarter of 2020, and it will undoubtedly be in the back of our minds for years to come, even after we discover a vaccine against COVID. We have spent months living with hourly updates about fellow Americans becoming ill and the unwillingness by some people to follow recommendations on PPE usage despite the statistics about curve flattening. To say people are apprehensive about close contact would be an understatement.
Nevertheless, life must continue, including the procedures surrounding buying and selling real estate. Just like most other industries, there is a new normal when it comes to social interactions. The reopening of cities and towns is a dynamically changing situation when it comes to any type of social interaction, so it’s important for a licensed realtor to keep abreast of reopening phases. Real estate is classified as a nonessential business, so the seasonal numbers which normally impact predictor models won’t have the typical data because of the later reopening of the industry.
The government recommends a distance of six feet when going into public. This makes it difficult, but not impossible, for a realtor to privately show someone a house. The concept of public open houses is a practice that will someday resume after states enter into the green phase, but for now, precaution is key, with PPE and hand sanitizer readily available. Fortunately, with the advancements in artificial intelligence, real estate agents are able to virtually show a home to someone without needing to physically be in their presence. Many people feel that it is almost as good as the real thing, with the added advantage of the peace of mind from staying safely at home. There are many companies willing to make elaborate home tours, but a realtor can just as easily walk through a property with a cellphone. Another option is to live stream with potential buyers so they can have more control over camera direction and ask any questions on the spot.
The same rules apply when it comes time to close a deal. Many people come prepared with masks and gloves to sign their paperwork in empty offices. Appointments do not overlap, as a precaution, and they try their best to maintain the six food social distancing rule from their agent.