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As we all wade through the uncharted waters that the arrival of Covid-19 has thrust us into, those of us who work in residential real estate are scrambling to find ways to continue to conduct business, safely and sanely. With the arrival of spring, Sellers who waited for warmer weather are (still) ready to list, and Buyers who have waited for an uptick in inventory are (still) ready to start house hunting. However, the days of being comfortable with allowing strangers to enter and tour a home for sale – opening cabinets, turning on lights, touching doorknobs – are now over (hopefully temporarily). So what are Sellers, Buyers, and agents to do during this crisis?
Fortunately, real estate agents are backed by associations that are quick to provide recommended guidelines and legal resources in times of extreme circumstances. We immediately availed ourselves of their assistance and advice, and have adopted three major changes in the way we conduct business:
A TEMPORARY STOP TO TRADITIONAL OPEN HOUSES:
Both the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and our local Prescott Area Association of REALTORS® (PAAR), have strongly discouraged members from continuing to hold traditional Open House events. In fact, PAAR has disabled the ability to advertise such events through the MLS. Instead, agents are being encouraged to find creative alternatives, including virtual Open House events, video tours, etc. Since we are known for hosting Open House events that regularly attract a large crowd, we are reluctantly, but safely, exploring virtual soirees, for the time being, as are most of our colleagues.
THE USE OF A NEW ARIZONA CONTRACT ADDENDUM:
The Arizona Association of REALTORS® anticipated that the COVID-19 virus will impact real estate transactions in unprecedented ways, including, but not limited to, travel restrictions, quarantines, and the cessation or limitation of business and governmental operations. As a result, it may prove impossible or impractical for a party to timely complete their contractual obligations. To assist buyers and sellers experiencing such events, the Arizona Association just released a Coronavirus/COVID-19 Addendum. The parties in a real estate transaction are encouraged to use this form to amend the Purchase Contract to account for these unanticipated occurrences.
ADHERENCE TO STRICT SANITATION PROTOCOLS WHEN SHOWING HOMES:
The graphic below provides an overview of steps we are now taking to safeguard the homes and health of our Sellers, and to protect the health of our Buyers. We take these precautions very seriously – following these recommendations to the letter – and mandating that our clients do the same:
Housing is an essential need, and so we, as realtors, will continue to conduct business. However, it’s imperative that we all work together to keep each other safe. If your real estate agent is not willing to take the extra steps necessary to protect you, your family, and your home, we encourage you to find another agent who is.