Though initially Governor Inslee’s statewide, “Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order,” required the closure of all “non-essential critical infrastructure” businesses during Phase I, there have been certain modifications issued for the residential real estate industry which acknowledge the importance of providing housing to the public. The Governor’s directives have balanced housing needs with the over-riding importance of protecting public health through staying home and social distancing. The real estate brokerage industry shares the Governor’s priorities. The industry’s paramount concerns are safety of the public and the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Accordingly, real estate brokers will limit personal interactions to the greatest extent possible and will engage in-person only when necessary, and by following strict protocols.
While some counties are in Phase II and others are preparing for it, the Phase II re-opening requires specific protocols which are to be followed for the process of buying or selling a home. The modifications for Phase II include:
• Real estate firms may open their offices in a limited fashion;
• Three persons (Phase I only allows two) are allowed onsite for permitted in-person real estate activities for both residential and commercial brokerages; and
• Sign installers may install real estate signs.
For both Phase 1 and Phase 2 in-person real estate activities, real estate brokers and industry partners (e.g. appraisers, inspectors, photographers, stagers, etc.) must wear cloth face coverings and should encourage clients and customers to do the same. Any previews or showings should be conducted as expeditiously as possible. Real estate brokers may not leave a third party unattended in a property. Sellers should vacate the property prior to any preview or showing appointment. In addition, listing brokers should stagger any preview or showing appointments to avoid any overlap. In lieu of physically showing the property, brokers and buyers can utilize virtual tours and videos that are included with the listing. Brokers should also consider virtual showings to further practice social distancing.
No real estate open houses or similar invitations to view a property without an appointment are permitted in Phase I or Phase II. Brokers must adhere to the “phase” protocols for the county where the property is located.
There are risks associated with leaving the safety of your home and viewing homes for sale, as well as having prospective buyers enter your home. Buyers and sellers must be attentive to, and abide by, the mandates and guidelines from public health officials and work with their real estate broker to make informed decisions about listing, selling, and purchasing real property. Brokers will exercise their best judgment under the circumstances to provide advice regarding all aspects of the current real estate market.
For more information about buying or selling a home, be sure to work with a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Snohomish County Camano Association of Realtors® is the voice for real estate in Snohomish County. If you have questions for The Expert about real estate email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting https://www.sccar.org.