No open houses for real estate listings; sick buyers must stay home

Buying, selling and even building a home can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic – using reasonable practices, say industry groups

Realtors are being strongly discouraged to hold any open houses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) announced March 19.

The board said that it was making “this explicit recommendation today with the support of real estate brokerages, and after an assessment of the latest information and commentary from public health and other government authorities.”

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REBGV said that, earlier in the week, it had also “removed the rule requiring that properties listed on MLS be made available for showings.”

Ashley Smith, REBGV president said, “Realtors want to do their part to help prevent the spread of illness in our communities and to meet the housing needs of residents in a responsible way. We’ve heard from some in the community who are unhappy that their Realtors are not holding Open Houses. To those people, we ask for your understanding given the public health crisis we all face today.”

The board said that “anyone looking to buy or sell a home in today’s environment is encouraged to discuss COVID-19 preparedness with their Realtor” and offered some key tips for buyers and sellers. These include:

• If you recently travelled abroad and/or are unwell, do not view a property, and stay home.

• If you’re a seller, talk with your Realtor about alternative approaches to open houses, such as virtual showings and other technology-based solutions.

• If you’re a buyer, only visit a property when others are not present, sanitize your hands before and after a showing, and avoid touching doorknobs and other surfaces in the property.

The REBGV is also offering other tips for buyer and sellers at www.rebgv.org.

Construction must go on

Announced the same day was approval to B.C. construction companies to continue site operations, as the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people does not apply to construction sites, according to the Urban Development Institute.

The UDI said in a March 19 statement that “a senior provincial government official has contacted UDI president and CEO Anne McMullin to assure our industry and membership the 50-person limit does NOT apply to construction sites. The provincial government official confirmed that all sites can and should remain operating… Sites must continue to conform to Worksafe BC practices and current COVID-19 prevention protocols. That means additional handwashing stations should be made available, that workers should maintain their social distance of 1-2 metres from one another and during any on-site meetings.”

The UDI statement added, “In addition, the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during the March 17 news conference… that ‘Construction work outside is not as much of a risk that we are concerned about... but anyone who’s sick should not be going to work.’”

The Homebuilders Association of Vancouver (HAVAN) also sent out a statement March 19 offering advice to construction employers on site safety during the pandemic. 

The dedicated web page, www.havan.ca/covid-19-resources, also has links to various government resources that are helping small businesses during this time, plus a link to a COVID-19 self-assessment tool.

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