The California Department of Public Health and the State Public Health Officer recently published guidelines for how real estate practices should incorporate social distancing and disinfecting practices to address coronavirus/COVID-19 concerns. Real estate businesses must first created a Workplace Specific Plan that outlines how the business is prepared to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This Workplace Specific plan must include a risk assessment, contact details for local health departments, employee training and communication plan, compliance verification, contact tracing, and protocol for responding to a coronavirus illness.
Second, real estate businesses must establish a Shown Properties Specific Plan. This plan should outline how agents and home viewers will prevent the spread of COVID-19 when showing properties. The rules set forth under the plan must be displayed at the entrance of each property, and should instruct all viewers to use face coverings and hand sanitizer. The rules must also be linked to any online profiles for the property as well as in the MLS listing. The plan must be provided to all clients, appraisers, inspectors, stages, contractors, and any others who may enter the property.
Real estate businesses must also provide employee training on a range of topics related to COVID-19 prevention. This training should provide information about the illness itself and how it spreads, as well as what employees can do to prevent the spread. The training must educate employees to not come to work if they are experiencing any symptoms, and encourage physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, face covering, and self-screening.
Along with education and social distancing, real estate businesses must also develop protocols for cleaning and disinfecting workplaces and shown properties. High traffic areas must be thorougly cleaned and disinfected. Employees should be discouraged from sharing any kind of equipment, and must implement property cleaning practices for their individual workstations. Properties that are shown must be thorougly cleaned before and after each showing. Properties being shown should have their ventilation systems running and windows opened, to circulate air throughout the property. All items that are passed between employees and customers, such as pens or keys, must be disinfected after each use. Workers must be provided time to clean and disinfect the property, and should provide masks, sanitizing wipes, and hand sanitizer to all those who enter the property to tour, inspect, or work.
Finally, real estate businesses should implement physical distancing practices in their workplaces as well as for shown properties. For showing properties, agents must discontinue holding open houses and instead must show properties by appointment or digital sign-in. Current occupants must maintain social distancing practices while the property is being toured. Where possible, agents should use technology such as virtual tours in lieu of in-person showings. When showing properties in-person, agents must open doorways and all other ingress and egress to minimize clients touching surfaces. After a property tour has concluded, the licensee must disinfect all mobility and safety fixtures, such as handrails, banisters, doorknobs, windows, and others. Handouts should not be used, and instead information must be delivered electronically.
By implementing these protocols, real estate agents are permitted to show properties and engage in transactions.