The B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA) recently released new rules for holding open houses, a practice that is now resuming as part of the province’s third phase of its recovery plan, after four months of being on hold.
Open houses have been a real estate standard for many years, but the way they will be held going forward will be noticeably different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the health crisis, open houses allowed anyone to show up and view a home. In fact, many people would attend them just to see what properties looked like, almost as a form of entertainment. However, that will no longer be the case, at least for the foreseeable future, as changes to how open houses are conducted are being implemented to keep everyone as safe as possible during the pandemic.
New Protocols from BCREA
One of the new protocols outlined by the BCREA is allowing only serious buyers to attend open houses by using technology tools and screening measures for qualifying customers. As well, realtors are being asked to pre-register potential buyers before they participate in the open house and use technology to reduce in-person contact as much as possible.
Other measures noted by the BCREA include all parties involved wearing masks and maintaining social distancing once inside. Buyers also have to wait outside for their turn if numerous people want to view a home.
B.C. realtors will have to ensure they are doing their due diligence when it comes to things like screening buyers and sellers for symptoms, and also monitoring their own potential symptoms to keep clients safe.
Another expectation is that realtors work with sellers to ensure all homes are properly cleaned and sanitized, both before and after in-person open houses, and even in between showings whenever possible.
In a news release, BCREA CEO Darlene Hyde stated:
“Realtors will continue taking every opportunity to use technology to reduce in-person contact, for example, through virtual showings and executing documents remotely. When it comes to resuming open houses, this guidance will support realtors in adapting their practices to help ensure the safety of their clients and the broader public.”
Realtors Happy with Guidelines
B.C. realtors are welcoming the new rules, as they feel the guidelines offer a good balance of keeping people safe from the COVID-19 virus, while also allowing them to continue doing their job as effectively as possible.
Real estate experts have been relying on technology for the past four months to market homes for sale in B.C., particularly on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Many have also been holding virtual open houses trying to get as many eyes on the homes as they can and also trying to meet the needs of buyers and sellers wherever possible.
While getting people on board with virtual open houses and other non-traditional forms of marketing can sometimes be challenging, the industry is seeing some promising movement as things open up and the new guidelines are in place. A good example is the Okanagan area, where sales rebounded last month to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Supply Levels and Pricing
One challenge the B.C. real estate industry is facing besides the pandemic is a low supply of homes, which the BCREA says will likely put some pressure on pricing going forward.
Economists are predicting median prices will rebound to around $710,000 before dropping to approximately $540,000 later this year or in early 2021.
Much of the recovery will be dependent on whether a second wave of the COVID-19 virus takes place, which could affect the economy and therefore cause home prices to decrease slightly.
Despite the uncertainty in the market and the economy in general, the BCREA believes the market will remain strong as realtors adapt to new ways of conducting business and help buyers and sellers navigate the changes in the industry.
Source: Global News