Toronto’s Stage 3 entry marked the return of in-person open houses; however, the homebuying past-time is not the same.
Visitors are expected to comply with all government and public health and safety protocols, including wearing a mask, not touching anything and keeping at least two metres distance from others. They’re also required to sign-in to support contact tracing and, of course, washroom use is strictly prohibited.
Other measures homebuyers can expect to find include:
- Questionnaires about any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 and, in some instances, a request to sign a waiver
- Limited access with the real estate agent (donning personal protective equipment) opening the front door to ensure only a certain number of people are inside at any given time, based on property size
- A hand sanitizer station at the front door that everyone must use upon entry
- Signage that communicates open house requirements
- Directions for traffic flow through the home
- Separate entry and exit points, if possible
Sellers who want their real estate agent to host an open house must completely clean and sanitize their home beforehand. High touch surfaces like door handles, counters, faucet handles and light switches must also be properly disinfected.
Realtors will then ensure all lights are on, all doors are open, including closets, and all areas that visitors may want to see are accessible to minimize touch points in the home.
Although public open houses are allowed, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board recommends that real estate agents favour other marketing approaches for sellers, including virtual open house tours, as holding an open house comes with the risk of exposure to the virus. This health risk will differ depending on whether a home is vacant, owner-occupied, tenant-occupied or in a multi-unit building like a condominium.