It’s been a long tradition in the real estate industry: Showcasing a home for sale via an open house, where anyone could just walk in.
“In the pre-COVID days, open houses were often a form of Sunday afternoon entertainment,” said Darlene Hyde, CEO of the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA).
“People would just go into a house to see what it looked like.”
Those days are now gone, at least for the foreseeable future, as modifications are underway keep everyone safe during the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the BCREA released new rules for realtors holding open houses, which are now resuming after being on hold for the past four months.
“This will be safe for the public going through the open house, it will be safe for the occupants, it will be safe for the public and for the realtors,” Hyde told Global News.
The new protocols include limiting open-house attendees to serious buyers by leveraging technology tools and screening for qualifying consumers.
The new guidelines also encourage realtors to pre-register potential buyers before they attend the open house.
“The realtor community is going to a lot of extra lengths to make it safe, so there’s no point in having people on a property or in a place that don’t have to be there,” Hyde said.
Other guidelines include buyers having to wait outside for their turn if numerous people are wanting to go through a home and all parties involved wearing masks and maintaining their social distance inside.
Kelowna realtor Geoff Hayes welcomes the new rules.
“It’s kind of helping us keep the handle on the pandemic, but it’s also helping us do our job,” he told Global News.
Hays said for the past four months, realtors have had to rely on technology to market homes for sale.
“We’re using our phones, we’re going live on social media, Instagram, Facebook,” he said.
Many realtors have been holding virtual open houses, since traditional ones have not been taking place since mid-March.
“People, they typically want all eyes on their home, so it’s just been one of those things where . . . we had to explain, ‘Well the bad news is we can’t do them, but the good news is we can do them a different way,'” Hayes said.
Hyde said the pandemic has made it tough the last few months to market homes for sale.
“It has been extremely challenging and we have encouraged realtors to use virtual means whenever possible,” she said.
Despite the new strict guidelines in the industry, Hyde said things are looking promising.
“The market is opening up, and in the Okanagan for example, sales rebounded in June. They are back to pre-COVID levels, so things are really looking good for the Okanagan.”
Hyde added that the supply of homes, however, remains low.
“It’s got to be putting a little bit of pressure on the price,” she said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead but we are cautiously optimistic that the market will remain firm.”