It’s not easy being a real estate agent even on normal days, so how do you cope with working from home and having to limit outdoor activities such as meetings and showings? While it is certain that you won’t be able to carry out some your usual tasks, there are still ways to ensure your livelihood is not badly affected by practicing safe and hygienic daily habits, as well as taking the necessary precautions when going outdoors.
What unique issues does Covid-19 present to the real estate industry?
When an infectious disease, such as coronavirus, is associated with a specific population or nationality, fear and anxiety may lead to social stigma and potential discrimination. Real estate agents must be mindful of their moral and social obligations, and be sure not to discriminate against any particular segment of the population. While the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, that does not provide a basis for treating Chinese persons or persons of Asian descent differently. In a similar vein, do not discriminate against people who may be related to certain groups or events that are known to be Covid-19 clusters. Simply take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and treat your clients as usual.
May I ask clients or others I interact with in my real estate business if they have traveled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness?
You may – and in some cases, encouraged to – ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. To avoid potential legal and health issues, be sure to ask all clients the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities. Be tactful when asking such questions, and provide a clear and simple explanation of the concerns regarding your health and theirs.
What precautions should agencies take in their offices?
Agency principals should use their best judgment when formulating a plan. In addition to performing regular environmental cleaning with special attention paid to frequently touched surfaces, agency principals and team leaders should implement a mandatory “stay-home” policy for any staff member or agent exhibiting any sign of illness. Brokers may want to consider imposing a mandatory or maximum flexibility remote work policy for employees and instructing agents to stay out of the office. In addition, agents should take measures to hold virtual meetings when possible, and potentially postpone or cancel in-person meetings or events to take to limit close contact between individuals.
What preventative measures may be taken to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus?
Everyone is urged to take these measures to protect themselves and others:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Practice social distancing by staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
- Stay home if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or any other cold or flu-like symptom.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
(Adapted from National Association of Realtors)