Open Houses Are Allowed to Resume in Stage 3, But Should They?

Open House
Image by Agover from Pixabay

Starting Friday, July 17, 34 of Ontario’s public health regions will enter into Stage 3 of reopening the province’s economy, with the exception of the GTA and nine other regions in parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2.

As part of Stage 3 of reopening, the province will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering into the next stage. This means that indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people; outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.

Of course, gathering limits are still subject to physical distancing requirements.

READ: Every Business That’s Allowed to Reopen in Ontario During Stage 3

For regions entering Stage 3, the provincial government has lifted the ban on real estate professionals hosting open houses, which were temporarily prohibited during the COVID-19 pandemic as physical distancing measures were enforced across the province to help slow the spread of the virus.

However, as of Friday, July 17, real estate professionals may begin hosting open houses once again, provided that they adhere to the province’s indoor gathering limits of a maximum of 50 people. In all cases, individuals are required to continue to maintain physical distancing with people outside their households or social circles.

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) says that throughout the pandemic, “realtors have demonstrated leadership in protecting the health and safety of their clients while continuing to offer services essential to Ontario’s economy. While the lifting of the prohibition is good news for Members who are eager to begin hosting open houses again, Members should continue to follow all instructions from local and provincial health authorities.”

While the return of open houses might be beneficial to some agents, there are brokers who believe they are no longer a necessary tool to make a sale.

Dorian Rodrigues, a broker for PSR Brokerage, says he found the temporary ban of open houses hasn’t made it difficult for him to sell a home, rather, he’s found those who have reached out to set up private showings have ended up being more serious about buying a home.

“The buyers that are scheduling private showings tend to be more qualified and eager to find a home. Although it has reduced the number of people through the home, it has increased the quality,” said Rodrigues.

And Rodrigues isn’t alone with this mindset. Shaun Denis, CEO and broker for Umber Realty, says he finds open houses to be “a thing of the past.”

“Typically, people don’t drive around neighbourhoods anymore looking for open house signs, they begin by viewing the online marketing material, and if it piques their interest, they will then book a private viewing,” said Denis.

“With the technology now readily available to prospective purchasers, open houses, in my opinion, are now, completely obsolete. The open house still remains valuable to the real estate agent listing the property because it provides them with the opportunity to meet people in the neighbourhood which subsequently, may allow them to meet future clients, however, it does little for the seller,” added Denis.

The technology that Denis is referring to includes the use of digital and virtual tools, such as virtual leasing and 3D tours, which have become critical for those working in the real estate industry to succeed amid the pandemic.

For the agents who will return to holding open houses, OREA says it will soon be publishing guidance for Members on conducting open houses under Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening framework.

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