Keeping Safe in Real Estate with Covid-19 Pandemic
Many people will be surprised to hear that in light of most states (including Florida) issuing a shelter in place order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, the real estate industry is considered essential and you may still proceed with buying or selling your home. Why is this? Well I think there are two important points that can be made when combined supports why real estate can and should continue to operate at least for the time being.
- Real Estate may be the most critical industry to the economy and completely shutting it down could send the economy into a tailspin.
- Real Estate activities are essentially low risk for spreading the virus and can even be made lower risk if proper administrative controls are followed.
While the public safety is of the upmost importance, we will get through this eventually and if real estate activities can continue in a safe manner then the government needs to ensure there is still an economy at the end of the pandemic. This article hopefully provides some context to how certain activities are or can be made low spread risks and will also talk about how we can take proper pre-cautions to keep safe in real estate with Covid-19.
Before we do a dive into protective measures lets briefly talk about how the virus spreads to give some context to the preventative measures. So how does the virus spread?
- Between people who are within 6 feet of each other. Close contract with another person is the easiest way to spread the virus and should be avoided at all times.
- The virus might also travel respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- While it is not as common as the first two, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
So now that we understand a little more about how the virus is spread, let go over some compensatory measures we can take to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure real estate activities are low risk to spreading the virus.
- Stay home if you are sick and have any of the Coronavirus systems – If you are at all sick, even it you just believe you have cold, you need to stay home and not participate in any activities until you are feeling 100% better. Common Covid-19 symptoms are but are not limited to:
- Shortness of Breath
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, stay home. If you see someone who has these symptoms at a showing, send them home. Its not worth it. You can resume your buying process when you or your client feels better.
- Assume you and everyone else you are with has it – Per the CDC, the virus can take 2-14 days to even show symptoms of the virus. There are also other who are asymptomatic who will have the virus but not have any symptoms. The best way to avoid getting infected or getting others infected is assume everyone has it no matter how healthy they seem.
- Do anything virtually that can be – Listen, I would never buy a house prior to seeing it in person first and I don’t think its wise to invest in a property without seeing it at least once first, but limit visits. Have your realtor give you a virtual tour before deciding to see it in person. Also, while it is great that you want to attend the inspection in person, inspectors are more high tech these days and can take video on sight and also video conference you to give a recap at the end. We have also done report reviews over video conference with our clients to ensure they are properly absorbing what is in the report. Unless its absolutely necessary for you to be somewhere stay at home. Virtual tours and inspections is a powerful tool to keep safe in real estate with Covid-19.
- Action you can take if you need to be physically present – If you are a realtor, inspector, buyer, title company, there is a strong possibility you will need to attend something in person. Here are some protective measure you can take ensure you don’t get infect or do the same to others.
- Ensure only the minimum amount of necessary people are present – A good example is at closings. A lot of the times realtor like to be present at closings to support their clients, but during the pandemic it is not appropriate. Figure out who needs to be there and stick to who is essential. You can always video conference the non-essential parties.
- Limit the time you spend out to bare minimum – For example, if you think it is of the upmost importance for you to attend the inspection, wait to the end of the inspection and come for a recap from the inspector. Inspection can be long increasing risk to exposure if people are present. You can always stay after the inspector leaves to take a better look at things as well if access is allowed.
- Wear the right protective equipment when out – I think the best thing to limit exposure if you are around people are gloves and facemasks/respirators. This will prevent you from touching contaminated services or inhaling respiratory vapor if someone coughs. If no one else is present you can lose the facemask, but I would recommend keeping the gloves on and throwing them out when you are done.
- Wash and Sanitize – Wash your hands for 20 seconds under hot water before and after going out. If you are gone a while, make sure you are washing frequently if you are touching anything. If no water is available use hand sanitizer. Bring sanitizing wipes to wipe down surfaces that are commonly touched.
- Avoid touching your face – Even if you chose to wear gloves, resist the urge to touch your face. If you need to scratch your nose, sanitize your hands first and then go crazy.
These are very interesting times we live in. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty building and that is a natural response as human beings. We need to keep pushing forward though, it will only make the problem worse if we shut down everything all together. With that said, be diligent about your preventative measures. There is a lot of good we can do right now, but if we don’t take the virus seriously that will all be for nothing. I hope you found this article informative and please keep you and your family safe!
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