When New York City entered Phase Two of reopening on June 22, thousands of real estate agents across the city returned to work, no longer forbidden from in-person showings of apartments to potential buyers. The state has issued a series of best practices for brokers to follow, and the Real Estate Board of New York has issued its own safety guidelines for brokers and buyers.
Though in-person apartment showings are now permitted, the New York Times reports that the virtual tours that debuted during the Phase One lockdown have become widely accepted and will likely continue for the foreseeable future – and might outlive COVID-19.
Candace Adams, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, says in-person showings will eventually become the second and third step, not the first, of the sale process. “Everyone’s time is so valuable today,” she says. “Virtual tours will be a forever thing for us going forward.”
In Phase Two there will be no open houses, where potential buyers and their families can just drop in unannounced. In scheduled one-on-one showings, brokers will clean before and after each visitor, provide hand sanitizer and discourage clients from touching any surfaces.
“Getting people to change their behavior will be the hardest thing to do,” says Jason Haber, an associate broker at Warburg Realty. “It’s human nature to want to touch things. Sometimes when people come to see an apartment they bring the whole squad. Until we’re at the vaccination level, those days are probably over.”
Brokers agree that the focus on client comfort and safety is more important than ever, but during Phase Two and possibly beyond it, the consideration of everyone involved in a single listing may be a little tricky to handle. For in-person showings, agents will not only have to communicate with the buyer and seller, but also building managers and co-op or condo boards, since many buildings have established their own house rules and coronavirus protocols.