After almost two years of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, home shopping has regained a semblance of normalcy. New Yorkers may now visit prospective homes in person again and even attend open houses, as long as everyone follows the appropriate protocols. In the midst of the Omicron variant, that also means making sure to bring your mask! Here are some essential tips for safe home searching and COVID-19 guidance for real estate in NYC.

Note: This guide is intended for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and is not a comprehensive list of the state’s guidance.

Table of Contents

    Manhattan Rentals Under $3,000 on StreetEasy Article continues below

    Can I Shop for Homes in Person in NYC?

    Yes! Visiting homes in person has been permitted since NYC entered Phase 2 reopening in June 2020. However, home shopping isn’t exactly like it was before.

    For example, walkthrough videos and virtual tours are much more common now than pre-pandemic. It’s wise to watch them carefully before deciding to visit in person. 

    Do I Need To Wear a Mask or Be Vaccinated To View a Home In Person?

    In December 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that all indoor businesses must mandate masks for guests unless they institute a vaccine requirement. These businesses include indoor dining, fitness centers, and movie theaters. While the state’s announcements didn’t specifically mention real estate, you should still be ready to wear a mask or provide proof of vaccination when viewing a unit. As of February 2022, some mask requirements were rolled back. However, the city recommends wearing a mask indoors — and many types of establishments and buildings still require it.

    Brooklyn Rentals Under $3,000 on StreetEasy Article continues below

    COVID-19 Guidance for Real Estate: Dos and Don’ts

    Keep these handy tips in mind when you’re apartment hunting in NYC:

    Do Take a Virtual Tour First

    In this time of extensive health precautions, virtual tours save a lot of time and trouble for everyone — including you. Check out prospective homes through a screen first, and only visit in person if you think the place might really be the right one. This can not only save you time, but prevent coming in contact with more people than necessary. 

    Do Schedule an Appointment

    Traditional open houses, where you drop by within a given period and tour a home with others doing the same, are allowed once more, but less common than they once were. Archived state guidelines — meaning no longer in effect, but still permissible for individual businesses to enforce — discourage open houses. Try to book a specific time slot with the agent when you can view the home unaccompanied if you can.

    Do Wear a Mask, and Leave Nonessential People at Home

    As with any other indoor setting in NYC, you’re required to cover your face when viewing an apartment. During the Omicron surge, New York City mandated face masks once more. They’re especially important when you’re unable to fully social distance, such as in a small apartment. 

    And try to leave children, friends, parents, or other non-decision makers behind when you go to view a unit. The fewer people inside, the better.

    Queens Rentals Under $3,000 on StreetEasy Article continues below

    Don’t Go Inside While Others Are in There

    The archived state guidance encourages that only one “party” should be in a home at a given time for everyone’s safety. A party is you and your partner, or you and your roommates. It’s no longer mandatory to wait, but your real estate agent might still ask you to. And you’re more than welcome to decide to wait until the last party clears out before going in. 

    Don’t Touch Anything You Don’t Need To

    It’s just common sense, especially these days. But you’d be surprised how often people absent-mindedly run their fingers along a kitchen counter or drape their jacket or bag over a chair. It’s certainly OK to use handrails and doorknobs or to check handles and faucets if you need to. But don’t touch anything inessential, and don’t let your stuff touch it, either. And remember to bring lots of hand sanitizer! 

    Whether you’re looking to rent or to buyfind your next NYC apartment on StreetEasy.