New York City has been “reopened” for quite some time now. Although guidelines are always changing due to new variants like Delta and Omicron. Almost all real estate activities have resumed and real estate professionals are permitted to show listings in person — provided everyone follows state health mandates such as wearing masks.
What follows is a handful of suggestions to minimize risk as new COVID-19 variants continue to spread 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.
What Is Mandatory
In June, NYC rescinded most of its “mandated” industry guidelines, including those for real estate agents. The current real estate guidelines have been archived on the website.
However, individual businesses can continue to implement the archived guidance, or their own guidelines — as long as they follow the mandates currently in place. So if your agency only feels comfortable letting one party into a showing at a time, although it is no longer mandatory, you can ask clients to follow that rule.
Additionally, masks are required in all indoor spaces in NYC, effective December 13, 2021. So if you’re showing an apartment or meeting with clients, you will all need to wear masks. Or, according to Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement, individual businesses can institute a vaccine mandate instead of a mask mandate.
Limit Showings and Plan for Distancing
Masked open houses are permitted again now that the state has archived the real estate guidelines. However, if you wish to continue to follow the guidelines, you can choose to limit the number of people at a showing at any given time.
It’s also best to schedule appointments in advance whenever possible. This can help stagger showings to avoid a congregation of people outside or inside the properties.
You may also wish to only show unoccupied units to protect the current owners or tenants. Additionally, you can ask that additional guests and children stay behind to not crowd the viewing.
Clean and Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces Often
The archived guidelines encourage disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as handrails and doorknobs before and after showings. Bringing cleaning products to clean between client viewings is always a good idea, as is bringing extra hand sanitizer. Agents may also choose to leave cabinet doors and drawers open to discourage clients from repeatedly touching them to open and close them.
Skip the Amenities for In-Person Showings
You can choose to follow the archived guidance and skip out on showing the shared building amenities (like a gym, roof deck, pool), and instead provide virtual options. However, if you do choose to show them in-person, make sure both you and your clients are masked; the state still mandates wearing masks indoors.
Avoid Car Rides With Clients
Driving clients around for a multi-home tour over the weekend is common for agents, and a nice way to build a relationship. However, during Phase 2, the state recommended that agents limit the amount of time they spend in the car with clients.
Current state mandates require you wear a mask when in a car with clients. It may also be a good idea to disinfect high-touch areas of the vehicle, per the archived guidance.
Don’t Forget Virtual Tours
The safest home-shopping practice of all remains a virtual tour. While many prospective buyers and renters may be keen to get into new homes, continuing to provide virtual tours and video walk-throughs on your listings will help shoppers whittle down their choices and keep everyone safer.
Remember your options. There are many ways to showcase listings remotely including 3D Home® tours, walkthrough videos, and even live video chat tours over FaceTime or Zoom.
More Showing Tips for NYC Agents
While the only mandate currently in place for real estate agents is to wear a mask indoors, there are many other ways you can remain safe when showing properties. In the wake of the Omicron variant, many New Yorkers are being more diligent than ever. Here are some more tips from StreetEasy:
- Open all doors (to rooms and closets) before any showings begin. This will greatly reduce the number of times shoppers touch any part of the home.
- Turn on all lights and open all window shades. Bringing lots of light into the home will mean shoppers don’t need to do so.
- Open all windows (weather permitting) to increase ventilation.
- Bring extra masks and gloves in case shoppers don’t bring their own. While this is potentially an extra expenditure, it’ll help keep you safe, and your clients at ease.
- Ask that any food or drink be left outside.
- Plan a large, preferably outdoor spot to talk to home shoppers after their tour, in order to maintain a safe social distance. These days, you don’t want to hold extended conversations in a small kitchen, or anywhere indoors.