COVID-19: A Message to Our Clients

While reacting to COVID-19 and respecting social distancing, we know that there are still many people who need to buy and sell homes during these uncertain times and our clients health remains our top priority. 

Realtors have been deemed an essential service by the Federal Government and we are doing everything we can to act responsibility and keep our clients safe while finding ways to provide the same level of service they require. 

I will continue to analyze market conditions to help better serve my clients and provide as much insight to the real estate market as possible. I have had a number of clients ask me about the potential effects COVID will have on the market and at this time I cannot make any valid predictions as we are still in the early stages. However, I can tell you that properties continue to be listed and sold. Having said that, I want to briefly review what I am seeing other agents implement, and how we will conduct business moving forward. 

Open Houses

For the time being, realtors are prohibited from hosting open houses. Below is a message from Philip Sober, the President & CEO of Royal LePage:
Royal LePage has continued to take action to help keep both you and your clients safe as we face this unprecedented global crisis together. The safety measures we are taking are being guided by public health authorities and the government as well as company-specific initiatives. We are NOT permitting traditional open houses or person-to-person consumer outreach such as door knocking. We will communicate the lifting of this restriction when it is safe to return to traditional business practices. 

REALTORS® who wish to provide an open house service MUST host the event in a virtual fashion, utilizing online tools and digital video technologies. One that we recommend is Facebook Live, a live video streaming feature on Facebook that allows you to broadcast a live video through your company page or personal profile. It’s easy, and it’s free. It allows you to engage with your viewers and answer any questions in real-time. And, once a Facebook Live video is created, it can reside on your page or profile for viewers who missed the live event. 

Private Showings

We will be working with our buyers to assess properties online through options like virtual tours, detailed floor-plans and high definition photos. If a buyer is interested in a property, we will then provide a virtual showing where we will use technology to walk buyers through the home on Zoom or FaceTime.

Once a buyer has narrowed their search and requests a physical visit to a property, we will make the necessary arrangements to keep both our buyers and the property sellers safe. Before any private showings are scheduled all participants wishing to view the home in person will be required to sign a Health Disclosure Declaration. 

Consultations

To support social distancing and in order to keep our community safe we will be conducting all meetings via phone call or video conferencing. With applications like Zoom, these meetings will be very similar to our face-to-face meetings but instead will be exclusively online. 

Paperwork

Prior to COVID-19, we had adapted our business to be as paperless as possible, commonly using online signing for our contracts and encouraging all documents to be sent electronically to reduce paper waste. We will now be exclusively using this paperless method and will guide our clients through video tutorials if they are uncertain how to do so. 

Clauses

In order to protect our buyers and sellers we have implemented a new clause, from our lawyer, which we will be using to help protect all parties involved should they be affected by the virus and cannot complete the purchase or sale of a property. We will continue to tweak and make changes to this clause as necessary. 

The COVID-19 Clause: 
The parties agree and acknowledge that in the event either the BUYER, BUYER’s lender, SELLER, any of their respective CONVEYANCING LAWYERS AND/OR NOTARIES and OTHER CRITICAL service providers, or the RELEVANT LAND TITLE OFFICE or other government agency becomes the subject of a voluntary or mandatory COVID-19 virus quarantine or closure prior to or at the time for performance hereunder that results in the parties inability to perform on the Closing date stated herein, the closing shall be automatically extended at the request of either party for a period of up to ten (10) business days after such quarantine or closure order is lifted, up to a maximum delay of thirty (30) days unless the parties otherwise mutually agreed to extend the performance date farther.

Completions 
As it stands lawyers and relators are deemed an essential service. In order to facilitate property completions, our lawyer sent out the following information:
We will continue to offer in person meetings at this time (and we are working on getting the Law Society of BC to allow for virtual meetings in a similar way that other provinces have allowed for same). Additionally, for the well-being of our staff and their families, we are taking extra precautions regarding sanitizing procedures and social distancing and ask the same from our clients. If you are attending the office, please kindly wash your hands in the washroom outside in the hall before entering and do not be offended that we are not shaking hands and are maintaining distance.

Other safety measures such as using your own pen, and distancing are being used as well. Should the client be in quarantine, measures such as having the agent representing the client sign an affidavit confirming the client’s identity then witnessing the clients sign the legal documents with the lawyer present on virtual call have been used. Please note I have only heard of one case of this and cannot confirm the legality of this measure however I find it reassuring we as an industry are finding creative ways to ensure completions are taking place. 

Possession

When it comes to helping sellers or buyers with the possession, I will be doing the following:
 
For Sellers:
Prior to the possession I will conduct virtual walkthroughs with my sellers to ensure the house is in proper key handoff condition. After the virtual walkthrough I will have my clients place one set of keys in a lockbox that I have left on the property and provide my clients with a one-day code to access that lockbox. The remainder of the keys will be left In the house for the new owners. 

For Buyers:
I will request the selling agent take the same or similar steps mentioned above. Prior to my buyers taking possession I will conduct the walkthrough solo and have them wait outside. Once I have previewed the home, I will leave the keys in the house and leave the door open. Once I have vacated my clients will then enter the home and I will be close by on the phone to answer any questions at a safe distance. 

As you know, plans and policies are consistently evolving and changing but we will continue to provide real estate services using these adapted and safe approaches. 

Please stay safe and contact me with any questions regarding the market and its evolving policies.