The National Association of REALTORS® has asked agents to carefully consider the advisability of continuing to hold open houses at this time, especially based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control that gatherings of ten or more persons be avoided. Agents are not required to put themselves at risk and if you prefer not to hold an open house, that is your right, but your decision should be discussed with the seller.

If you are comfortable holding an open house, first have an honest conversation with your seller outlining the potential risks and ensure that they too are willing to proceed. Should the client express concern or opt to avoid holding an open house, their wishes must be honored. In that case, consider alternative marketing tactics such as virtual and video tours.

If after discussing these issues you and your client mutually agree to hold an open house, be sure to send an email to the client confirming the nature of your discussion and their decision to proceed. When the time comes, take the following easy steps to limit potential transmission of the virus.

  1. Turn on all lights and lamps before the showing starts. This will ensure that anyone entering the home will not need to touch the numerous light switches found throughout a home.
  1. Open all interior and exterior doors before showing the home to prospective buyers. Again, this will ensure that buyers are limiting physical contact as often as possible. Following the open house, it is recommended that the listing agent or seller wipe down and sanitize all doorknobs.
  1. Bring hand sanitizer and request that buyers and their agents utilize it before entering the home.
  1. Refrain from greeting others with a handshake.
  1. Keep windows open throughout the home whenever the weather permits to let fresh air flow throughout the showing.
  1. Prior to, and immediately following the showing, wipe down all frequently touched surfaces using disinfectant wipes. Additionally, avoid touching surfaces in the home whenever possible.
  1. Ask anyone entering the home to remove their shoes or cover their shoes with disposable booties.
  1. Request that prospective buyers maintain a distance of six feet or more. Consider posting a notice on the door stating that entrance will be limited, and visitors should wait outside in a queue that includes enough space for social distancing.
  1. Request attendees to notify their agent if they become ill within two weeks of attending the open house. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, communicate this to the homeowner and other attendees if possible.
  1. Keep a list of everyone that attended the open house, including their contact information and the date and time at which they were present in the home. In the event of an infection, you may be asked to provide the information to local public health authorities so they may investigate further.

This article is of a general nature and is not intended as definitive legal advice. You should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.