If you already had your home listed or were thinking about selling your home this year, you may be wondering if you should still go through with it. The spread of coronavirus has disrupted a lot and while it shows no signs of slowing down, for now, that doesn’t mean you can’t still sell your home.
“But is it safe to show my home right now?” You’re not the only person asking this question and it’s understandable. Showings and open houses allow strangers to walk through your home and you have no idea where they’ve been, how recently they’ve been sick or the last time they washed their hands.
The good news is there are plenty of safety measures you can take to ensure your safety and the safety of your family. We compiled 10 of the most helpful coronavirus safety tips for sellers to help you hold showings safely.
10 Coronavirus Safety Tips for Sellers
Overall, it would be a good idea to hold off on open houses right now. There’s no need to open your home up to the public when you don’t need to and there are plenty of alternatives to finding buyers. Your real estate agent will be your greatest resource right now. In fact, they probably have already advised you to nix open houses.
Showings can be done safely in-person or you can explore virtual options. Let’s dive into the 10 safety measures you can take.
1. Talk to your agent about a virtual showing.
Real estate agents are quick on their feet when it comes to adopting new technology and finding new ways to help their clients. Chances are good your agent has already looked into virtual alternatives for every step of the home selling process.
If you are not comfortable holding any kind of in-person showing or anyone in your family or household has recently been sick, talk to your agent about conducting a virtual showing.
This can be done in a few ways! It can be as simple as your agent filming a showing and distributing the video to interested buyers, your agent personally holding a FaceTime call with interested buyers and “walking” them through the house or even a 3D home staging.
Talk to your agents about your options and what ideas they might have. You might just be surprised by your agent’s creativity!
2. Schedule showings for set time slots.
Work with your agent to schedule showings. Pick one weekend day your home will be available for showings and have potential buyers’ agent book time slots with your agents. Twenty to thirty minutes should be enough time for a buyer and their agent to walk through the house while still keeping things moving, preventing anyone from lingering too long and making sure you have enough time for multiple people to see the house.
Using this method to schedule showings helps you in a few ways
- You can monitor who is coming through your home.
- You can limit the amount of time people spend in your home.
- You have time to clean and sanitize the house before the first showing and potentially in between showings.
- You can make sure your agent talks to the buyer’s agent first to ask questions and discuss the safety precautions you’re taking.
- You can make sure there is only one showing at a time.
3. Ask buyers if they are sick or have been sick before they enter your home.
Your agent can absolutely screen potential buyers (and their agents) beforehand and ask if they, or anyone in their families or households, have recently been sick or traveled to coronavirus hotspots or out of the country.
Your agent can ask these questions when buyers’ agents call to connect and book a showing time slot. If someone says they have been sick recently (or someone in their household has been) your agent can politely ask them to wait to schedule a showing until they have met CDC guidelines for home isolation.
4. Limit the number of people the buyer can bring with to the showing.
We gave this piece of advice to buyers on the other side of the real estate process too. You can and should ask buyers to limit the number of people they bring with them to the showing. It’s reasonable to ask that just the buyer, their partner and agent attend without any of the friends, family or children they might normally bring with them.
If anyone pushes back, say a buyer wants to bring their contractor to your fixer-upper home, you and your agent can consider it on a case-by-case basis and use your best judgment.
5. Post a sign with your requests and safety guidelines.
Your agent may come prepared with this for you so you won’t have to write it up. It would be helpful for your potential buyers to post a sign or flyer at your front door sharing your safety precautions. Mention what cleaning and sanitation practices you’re following, what you’ve done to make the showing easy (such as leaving lights on) and lay out your requests of the buyer- such as taking shoes off, refraining from touching hard surfaces and not sitting on the sofa.
We’ve included a free safety flyer here that you can print out and use for your showings. Simply download the PDF and modify as needed for your home:
6. Provide a hand washing station and gloves, if possible.
Your sign can direct guests to the designated hand washing station they should use as soon as they enter the home. Preferably this would be the kitchen or a first-floor bathroom close to the front door. Stock it with ample hand soap, paper towels and a trash can that can be accessed without opening cabinet doors.
If you feel the need, and can find them in stores, you can also provide gloves for buyers and their agents to wear as they tour the house. If you choose to provide gloves, make sure you provide a trash can where gloves can be disposed of at the end of the showing.
7. Provide booties or shoe coverings.
It’s good practice to ask buyers to leave their shoes outside the front door, but keep socks on so no one is walking through your house in shoes or with bare feet. If you are able to and can find them in a store, you could also provide either booties to wear or coverings to wear over their shoes.
Again, make sure you provide a trash can for disposing of used booties or covers when buyers are finished.
8. Provide hand sanitizer.
It’s hard to come by right now, but if you have the stock or can find it in your area, it never hurts to provide hand sanitizer to buyers. You can set up stations throughout the home or leave it out for buyers and their agents to pick up as they enter the home.
If you’re having a hard time finding sanitizer, booties or shoe coverings, your agent may be able to assist.
9. Leave lights on and doors open.
Make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to move through the house without having to touch communal hard surfaces like light switches and doorknobs. Turn all the lights on in the house, including in closets, maintenance areas and in the basement. Leave doors open or ajar enough that buyers can move from room to room easily. The goal is to make showings safe and easy for both you and potential buyers.
10. Clean your house thoroughly after showings.
If you have time in between showings, you can always do a quick sanitization of common hard surfaces. At the end of the day, after the last showing, you should clean your home as thoroughly as possible:
- Dispose of all used gloves and booties and empty all wastebaskets
- Clean hard surfaces, such as countertops, doorknobs, light switches, bathrooms, tabletops and any other common surfaces
- Clean soft surfaces, such as your sofa, bedding, curtains and rugs. The CDC has guidelines for thoroughly cleaning soft surfaces.
Don’t forget to restock on gloves, soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels after every showing day!
The new normal in real estate is starting to take effect and it will take some time to adjust to a new way of doing things. If you’re feeling anxious, worried or have questions about the safety or showings, don’t be afraid to talk to your agent. They know how uncertain things are right now and will be more than happy to sit down (virtually!) and talk through your options and safety precautions.
If you’re wondering what safety tips you can pass on to potential buyers, you can refer to our 10 Essential Safety Tips for Homebuyers as a guide. We’ll continue to share updates and new safety practices as we learn them.