Best Practices & Real Estate: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
It is important that we all remain informed about the coronavirus (COVID-19), and to that end, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) continues to monitor COVID-19 developments closely. The well-being of TRREB Members, their clients and TRREB staff is our utmost priority.
REALTORS® engage in interactions with clients throughout their day-to-day business, and we have suggested ways to protect yourself during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please take the time to review these suggested best practices which apply to Realtors and their clients, home buyers and sellers, and businesses.
We have also included advice from other public organizations about what you need to know, which areas are affected and the steps you should be taking to protect yourself and others.
Please only visit the various TRREB offices across the GTA if it is essential for you to be there on necessary business that cannot be handled via telephone, email or TRREB’s other online channels, including e-Commerce, the online REALTOR® STORE and Help Desk call centre.
These are suggested measures, and Realtors and their clients should speak with their Brokerage for advice and direction.
How can I protect myself as a Realtor, Home Buyer/Seller or Business Client?
Before meeting with clients, it is advisable that Realtors ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of COVID-19. Realtors should use their best judgment, and may want to avoid driving clients or interacting in person with clients who show signs of illness or reveal recent travel outside Canada to areas of increased risk of COVID-19; and please note that these areas continue to be updated as the situation on COVID-19 continues to evolve.
If Realtors and clients do interact, it's a good idea to follow Health Canada guidelines on prevention tips.
In addition, Health Canada suggests you keep a two-metre radius from others when out in public, and to practise "social distancing," and Realtors and their clients should stay in isolation if you're showing any symptoms of being sick.
Interacting with Clients
Realtors should consider contacting clients by email, phone or using other forms of technology, such as video calls. These best practices can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and allow Realtors to remain in contact with clients and avoid the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
If Realtors do have an in-person meeting with clients, they should ensure that they and their clients partake in prevention measures such as thorough handwashing with soap and water or disinfecting with an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol prior to meeting.
This is a real estate Brokerage decision that will have to be considered, taking into account the health of clients, Realtor staff and the community. Tuning into the news to remain informed about COVID-19 will allow you to better understand the severity of the risk in your area.
Realtors should speak openly and honestly with Sellers about the pros and cons of holding an open house and consider alternative marketing opportunities. This will assist in determining the risks of holding an open house with Sellers or Buyers.
If Realtors and their clients feel the need to host an open house, these tips should help:
- Use disinfecting wipes to clean commonly-shared surfaces like door handles;
- Restrict open house attendance to one group at a time;
- Ask visitors to limit physically touching items in the home;
- Refrain from greeting others with handshakes or hugs;
- Encourage clients to thoroughly clean and disinfect the house after open houses or viewings;
- Request clients or attendees to notify their Realtor if they become ill within two weeks of an open house or showing. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, communicate this with the homeowner and other attendees if possible; and
- Avoid sharing items such as phones, tablets or laptops.
Realtors can also propose alternative marketing opportunities for the Seller's consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property as a means of respecting current government health advisories in effect.
How about TRREB MLS® Rules and related matters?
TRREB's MLS® Rules are in place to ensure compliance and the orderly operation of the MLS® System; however, we recognize that we are in unprecedented times, and the situation is changing rapidly with each passing day. During these extraordinary circumstances, any complaints received by TRREB regarding compliance with the MLS® Rules will be assessed in light of directives provided by government and public health authorities.
TRREB encourages all Members to follow the advice of public health authorities and exercise reasonable precautions as needed to ensure the safety of all Members and their clients. CREA and NAR have published resources that TRREB Members can also refer to in determining appropriate measures for their respective operations. Those resources can be found here (CREA) and here (NAR).
What else is TRREB doing?
In keeping with best practices and being diligent to minimize any exposure, the following courses of action have been taken by TRREB, with further measures possible, in light of the dynamic nature of COVID-19 developments.
- All in-person classes hosted by the Professional Development Department have been suspended. Where possible, online webinars will continue to be made available.
- Access to the various TRREB offices is unavailable until further notice. TRREB is still operational and open for business during regular hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Members can still contact TRREB by telephone, email or TRREB's other online channels, including e-Commerce, the online REALTOR® STORE, Help Desk call centre, etc.
- Arbitration and Professional Standards hearings will be suspended indefinitely until further notice.
- A decision on the timing of our annual REALTOR® QUEST Conference and Trade Show will be made in the coming weeks.
Looking for more information surrounding COVID-19?
For a full list of prevention tips, please visit the Health Canada website.
You should also be mindful of the following advisory on Enhanced Public Health Measures for COVID-19 from the Office of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding travel, large events and other related matters.
Ontario Ministry of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
World Health Organization
Centres for Disease Control (CDC) – United States
We are monitoring developments closely, and will communicate any additional measures as they become necessary.
Thank you for your understanding as we all deal with these challenging times.