By Kate Sax, vice president of professionalism and career development at the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors
Over half a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, people are stressed, and tensions are running high. Real estate sales are expensive and complex under any circumstances, and now we’ve had to adapt to a whole new set of safety standards. In the face of these challenges, it’s more important than ever that Realtors hold themselves to a high standard in all their dealings with each other and the public.
We can’t forget the basics just because there’s a pandemic.
COVID-19 has changed much of how we do our work from day to day, but it shouldn’t change our attention to common courtesies. If anything, clear communication with colleagues and clients is more pressing today than it was a year ago.
With that in mind, reassess your policies. Do you always give sellers a full 24 hours’ notice before property showings?
What about updates when a showing is delayed or cancelled? When you arrive, do you always take care to knock or ring the bell before entering, and to knock again if you encounter any closed doors while showing the home? Do you strictly ensure that no one has unaccompanied access to the home without permission?
These are small actions, but central to how Realtors can show respect to everyone we work with.
We must go above and beyond in the face of COVID-19
Given the ongoing pandemic, each of these basic aspects of professionalism needs to be taken up a notch. Now, respect for a seller’s property entails far stricter sanitation protocols, and it’s more important than ever that you understand your clients’ specific needs. For example, an immunocompromised homeseller is likely to have different concerns about showing their house than someone who is not considered to be at high risk from the virus.
But regardless of their own personal risk levels, every seller has the right to set rules about what they expect from buyers entering their home, such as requiring everyone to wear masks and use hand sanitizer at the door. When acting as the buyer’s agent, it’s your responsibility to follow these rules and to ensure that your clients do so as well.
On the flip side, sellers have a responsibility to everyone entering their home to properly clean between showings. Both buyers and sellers should disclose the situation and reschedule home tours if they’ve come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Remember, there are alternatives if a buyer isn’t able or willing to tour a home in person. We’re seeing more and more Realtors take potential buyers on virtual tours using tools like FaceTime, other live feeds and virtual home showing software, especially now that many children are being homeschooled.
In 2020, allowing unauthorized access to a property is even more taboo and potentially dangerous than it would have been prior to the pandemic. Ensuring homeowners know who will be arriving at the house and when is critical.
Right now is a stressful, polarized time across the country. Everyone’s dealing with extra burdens, and we all need to take the extra step to respect each other in all our interactions. Realtors value community service and involvement. In these strange times, we should think of how we treat our clients, fellow Realtors and neighbors as an extension of that service and strive to set an example for everyone around us.
Mainstreet Organization of Realtors is a professional membership association located in Downers Grove that serves nearly 18,000 Realtors in DuPage, Lake, and western and southern suburban Cook County. MORe is the largest local Realtor organization in Illinois and the seventh largest in the nation.