Risk of transmission
According to the risk-adjusted strategy paper, real estate activities scored an overall rating of 10 (medium risk category). We address some of the criteria that were used in establishing the risk below.
- Ability to screen all employees
We can ensure that all real estate agents be temperature screened at real estate offices. Regulations can be made to implement compulsory staff health screening, observe stringent personal and client safety measures such as masks, sanitising of hands and vehicles and physical distancing. We would accordingly have the ability to identify and isolate ill employees.
- Ability to enforce social distancing of 2 meters
It is our view that the risk of infection when dealing with an estate agent is low as social distancing rules can be applied absolutely.
- Real estate as a professional service
It is our view that Real Estate should be classified as a Professional Service. The Estate Agency Affairs Board requires all estate agents to complete a Professional Designation Examination and maintain Continuing Professional Development in order to be issued with and keep their Fidelity Fund Certificate. This is a professional certification endorsed by the government.
- Percentage of employees who use public transport
Almost all estate agents use their own private transport. It is one of the very first questions and requirements when an estate agent is appointed.
Administrative staff are more likely to use public transport and we therefore suggest that they be treated and classified differently.
We accordingly request that a distinction be made between Professional Real Estate Services (an agent with a Fidelity Fund Certificate) and other real estate activities (administrators and support staff in the real estate field).
- Percentage of employees who must cross provincial borders to start work
There is no need for cross border services to be provided in real estate. Agents have always referred clients to other agents that are located in the relevant city or province in which the service is required.
When the risk ratings in the risk-adjusted strategy paper are considered, we are of the view that real estate should be lowered to a rating of 4.
Proposed regulations and guidelines for residential sales and letting:
Open Homes & Private Viewings
- No open homes or show houses will be allowed under Level 4. We suggest that this should only be allowed under directives at Level 2.
- Private viewings strictly by appointment only and with the consent of the client and property occupants. Estate agents will ensure that only buyers who are serious about making an offer on a property, or are in the process of making an offer, are given a private viewing.
- The number of private viewings per day can also be limited to only 2 per day and surfaces can be cleaned between viewings.
- Consider online viewing methods (virtual tours, video conferencing software) where possible
- Pre-registration and recording in a register of all private viewing attendees. With the written consent of the person being captured in a declaration, the agent will capture a copy of the identity document (for instance photo) and record the physical address and phone numbers to assist with contact tracing. This register will contain details of the time, date and address of the visit.
- All attendees to be e-mailed COVID-19 information beforehand, including hygiene expectations
- Information to include instructions that the private viewing is ‘contactless’ and surfaces cannot be touched by attendees. The agent (wearing gloves) will open any doors/ cupboards on behalf of attendees
- Agent to open internal/external doors as appropriate beforehand to minimise risk of surface transmission
- Property owners/occupants to leave premises during viewing, where possible
- One private viewing at a time. Viewings to be spaced sufficiently apart to allow time for sanitising after each viewing, as required, and to ensure there is no contact between attendees
- Maximum of two people from the attendee’s family to attend a private viewing
- Attendees to wait in their vehicles until agent advises they can enter, to ensure that there is no contact between attendees
- Only one agent to attend a private viewing
- Shoes removed prior to entry
- Physical distance of at least 2 meters to be maintained at all times
- Agent to wear gloves and hand sanitizer to be available for use by all attendees entering and exiting property
- Keep private viewings very brief
- No private viewings at properties where a person living at property is, or has been in the 14 days prior to the viewing, unwell or is self-isolating
- Display COVID-19 information and hygiene notices at property
- Those feeling unwell, have travelled overseas recently, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 may not attend the viewing
- High risk people should consider not attending the viewing (e.g. those over 60 or those with other existing medical conditions)
- Afterwards, sanitize or use antibacterial wipes to wipe down areas attendees may have accidentally touched
Appraisals & Listings
- Agents may visit the property to conduct an appraisal or evaluation. Agents must adhere to physical distancing (at least 2 meters)
- Do not attend property if occupants have been overseas recently, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
- Only one agent to attend the property
- Minimise time at property
- Minimise in-person contact with the client/s
- Clients may take their own videos and photographs for listing purposes. If a photographer or videographer is attending the property, they must:
- adhere to physical distancing (2m)
- not attend property if the occupants or buyer have been overseas recently, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days, or if they or anyone they have been in contact with have been a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
- minimise their time at the property
- minimise in-person contact with the client/s
- Agents must use virtual methods to share new listings with their colleagues
- Contracts should not be executed in person with the estate agent present
- Contracts can be drawn up digitally and delivered to the client
- Contracts can be explained and discussed using online technology
- Signed contracts should be collected by courier
Pre settlement inspections and purchaser due diligence
- Where permitted through government sector classification, if a professional (for example, a building inspector, valuer or engineer) is attending the property, they need to:
- adhere to physical distancing (2m)
- not attend property if occupants have been overseas recently, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
- limit number of persons at the property (e.g. have professionals attend separately)
- minimise their time at the property
- minimise in-person contact with client/s
- Purchasers should not attend the property with the professional (inspector, etc.). We recommend they join by phone or videoconference if they wish to.
- Agents who provide the professional with access to the property should wait outside or in one room in the house while the professional works
- The contact details of any professional visiting the property should be recorded together with the date they attended, to assist with contact tracing
- Ask the professional to sanitize areas they may have touched – or ask them to wear gloves which can be disposed of immediately after the visit
Settlements and moving
- Clients moving home should be permitted in accordance with government regulations
- Agents should arrange for sanitized keys to be provided with no physical contact between any party
Real Estate Offices
- Workers must work from home where they can
- Offices to remain closed to the public
- Display COVID-19 hygiene information and provide hand sanitizer
- Ensure 2 meter physical distancing measures in place
- During Level 4 minimize the number of people in office at any one time to 1/3 of the workforce