As the province continues to operate under a state of emergency, local and provincial real estate associations are calling for the end of open houses.
The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and Toronto Regional Real Estate Board have announced they want their members to stop holding open houses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Over the weekend, OREA said realtors need to do their part in protecting the health and safety of both their clients and the general public by limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Sean Morrison, OREA President, said he’s calling on all realtors to cease holding open houses during this crisis and advise their clients to cancel any that are planned.
“If a client has an urgent need to sell or buy a home during the COVID-19 crisis, there are other real estate tools that realtors can use for showing a property, including virtual tours. Let’s put our clients and communities first and focus on protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians,” said Morrison.
OREA said has repeatedly encouraged its members to follow government and public health recommendations to help stop the spread of COVID-19 including following the clear advice of the real estate regulator, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).
Morrison says he understands that realtors will continue to receive requests from clients for open houses or showings, however, as “trusted advisors and professionals,” realtors should encourage clients to use technology that facilitates remote interactions and especially avoids large groups that can happen during open houses.
“Every realtor has access to modern tools such as virtual showings, video conference calls and digital signing. Now is the time to use them or, if you can wait until the state of emergency is lifted,” said Morrison.
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On a regional level, TRREB echoed a similar recommendation to its nearly 60,000 members, also calling for an end to in-person open houses.
“In light of provincial government restrictions on public gatherings and guidance regarding social distancing, TRREB recommends that members do not hold open houses for the time being,” said TRREB president, Michael Collins.
For clarity, TRREB said it will also no longer enforce its MLS R-345 dealing with showings and inspections while the current government health advisories remain in effect. Property listings on the MLS system will not be suspended because a property is not available for showings or inspections, which is what the rule requires.
“We’re at a critical phase with this pandemic and we all have to do our part to be successful in confronting this challenge in order to protect the health and safety of realtors, their clients, and the general public,” said Collins.
“Realtors are reminded that there are alternative online and virtual marketing opportunities for sellers that can easily be accessed by buyers,” added TRREB CEO, John DiMichele.
“We encourage members to use alternative marketing strategies such as video and virtual tours wherever possible, and to continue to follow directives and guidance being given by the government and public health agencies,” said DiMichele.
TRREB put together a list of best practices for its members, which are available here.
This news comes as Ontario continues to monitor 412 active cases of coronavirus across the province. Eight cases have been resolved while five deaths have occurred.