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Monday, March 23, 2020

Real estate services can continue under Ohio's "Stay At Home" order

Author(s):Columbus Realtors

On 3/22/20, Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton issued an Executive Order requiring all Ohio residents to stay at home in an effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Order begins at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 23 and is scheduled to last until April 7, 2020.

Ohio REALTORS® worked directly with the Governor’s office to ensure that real estate-related activities are specifically allowed to continue while the Executive Order is in effect.

Broker Decision, but carefully consider the risks

It is understandable that real estate open houses and showings are of concern to many, due to the uncertainty we’re faced with in dealing with COVID-19.

Real estate trades typically involve a significant amount of personal contact, particularly during showings, open houses, and in-person client communication. This includes REALTORS® and their clients, home buyers and sellers, and businesses.

However, in the current environment, public health authorities are strongly encouraging social distancing.

If REALTORS® and their clients feel the need to host an open house, showing or have an in-person meeting with clients, consider the following suggested measures from Columbus REALTORS® & other real estate organizations. 

Consider the health of others

It is the duty of REALTORS® to support their clients in making an informed choice about hosting or attending open houses and showings. 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. 

REALTORS® need to speak openly and honestly with clients so that they can weigh the risks in their community. It is important to heed the advice of health authorities (local, state, and federal). This is particularly important for clients who are in high-risk groups, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. 

REALTORS® are reminded that there are alternative online and virtual marketing opportunities for sellers that can easily be accessed by buyers. 

Please note: Although it is your client’s decision whether to hold an open house, you can decline to proceed if you are not comfortable with the risk to your health. As always, you should discuss the services you are prepared to offer with your clients.

Keep your distance

If REALTORS® and clients do interact, it's a good idea to follow Ohio Department of Health guideline to keep a safe distance from others when out in public, and to practice "social distancing".

REALTORS® and their clients should stay in isolation if you're showing any symptoms of being sick.

REALTORS® should consider contacting clients by email, phone or using other forms of technology, such as video calls. 

If REALTORS® and their clients feel the need to host an open house, showing or have an in-person meeting with clients, consider the following tips: 

  • Confirm whether any occupants of the property (owners or tenants) are ill, under self-isolation, have recently travelled out of the country or may have been exposed to COVID-19. 
  • Check with your brokerage regarding any special requirements it may have put in place. 
  • Encourage people viewing the property to follow handwashing and sanitizing guidelines established by health officials. 
  • Use disinfecting wipes to clean commonly-shared surfaces like door handles. 
  • Take steps to discourage those viewing the property from touching any surfaces or items in the home. 
  • Consider limiting the number of people in the home at any one time and practice social distancing, as advised by local health officials. 
  • 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. 
  • Keep a list of everyone that attended the property, including the date and time and their contact information. In the event of an infection, you may be asked to provide the information to local public health authorities so they may investigate any all potential risk.  

Columbus REALTORS® continues to encourage 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.  

Ways to help
If you would like to help out those who may encounter financial needs due to actions taken to curtail the COVID-19 virus threat, consider a tax-deductible gift to either the Emergency Relief Fund (supports organizations) or Gifts of Kindness Fund (helps individuals/families)

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