COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Real Estate Transactions
As stay at home orders are modified, it is essential that all possible steps be taken to ensure the safety of workers and the public.
This guideline is intended to help people involved in real estate transactions implement their plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and is summarized from the Guidance for Real Estate Transactions. This summary contains excepts from the full document, referenced above.
This document provides guidance for businesses operating in the real estate industry including sales and rentals of single-family, multi-family, apartment, commercial, and industrial properties to support a safe, clean environment for workers. The guidance is not intended to revoke or repal any employee rights, either statutory, regulatory or collectively bargained, and is not exhaustive, as it does not include county health orders, not is it a substitute for any existing safety and health related regulatory requirements such as those of Cal/OSHA. Stay current on changes to public health guidance and state/local orders, as the COVID-19 situation continues. Cal/OSHA Interim General Guidelines on Protecting Workers from COVID-19 webpage. CDC has additional requirements in their guidance for businesses and employers.
Worksite Specific Plan
- Establish a written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan at every facility, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas, and designate a person at each facility to implement the plan.
- Identify contact information for the local health department where the facility is located for communication information about COVID-19 outbreaks among employees.
- Train and communicate with employee representatives on the plan.
- Regularly evaluate the workplace for compliance with the plan and document and correct deficiencies identified.
- Investigate any COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to risk of infection. Update the plan as needed to prevent further cases.
- Identify close contacts (within six feet for 10 minutes or more) of an infected employee and take steps to isolate COVID-19 positive employee(s) and close contacts.
- Adhere to the guidelines below. Failure to do so could result in workplace illnesses that may cause operations to be temporarily closed or limited.
Shown Properties Specific Plan
- Establish a written COVID-19 prevention plan to be followed by agents who show properties. Display a set of rules for agents and home viewers at the entrance of the property that are to be a condition of entry. The rules must include instructions to use face coverings and hand sanitizer. It must include instructions to maintain physical distancing and avoid touching surfaces of the shown property. The rules or a link to the rules should be part of online public and MLS listings. Posted rules show be clearly visible and include pictograms.
- Real estate and rental agents must confirm understanding of the rules with visitors before showing the propetty and provide a digital copy of the COVID-19 prevention plan to clients, appraisers, inspectors, stagers, purchasing agents and contractors and obtain their agreement to follow the plan prior to enterting the property.
- Regularly evaluate compliance with the plan and document and correct deficiencies identified.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols for Shown Properties
- Thoroughly clean shown properties and disinfect commonly used surfaces including counters, door and cabinet handles, key lock boxes, keypads, toilets, sinks, light switches, etc. These surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each showing.
- During a showing, introduce fresh outside air, for example by opening doors/windows and operating ventilation systems.
- Instruct employees to wipe down and disinfect equipment that passes between employees and customers, including clipboards and keys, after each use.
- Provide time for workers to implement cleaning practices before and after shifts. If cleaning is assigned to the worker, they must be compensated for that time.
- Equip shown properties with proper sanitation products, including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for use by employees and clients.
- Provide and strongly recommend clients, real estate licensees, and inspectors to use face coverings and hand sanitizer. Place these items at the property entrance so that people can put them on before entering. Ensure disposable covers are properly discarded after use, for example in a tras bag that is sealed prior to disposal.
- All people entering a property, including agents, brokers, inspectors, and clients, must wash hands with soap and water immediately upon entry and before touring or inspecting the property, or use hand sanitizer when handwashing facilities are not available.
- Adjust or modify showings to provide adequate time for regular deep cleaning and disinfecting. If the property is currently occupied, ensure adequate time to disinfect after occupants leave for showings and before and after clients view the property.
Physical Distancing Guidelines for Shown Properties
- Discontinue holding open houses and showings open to the general public on a walk-in basis; use an appointment or digital sign-in process to control the number of people in the house or property.
- Ensure current occupants are away from property during showings, consistent with their legal rights.
- Utilize virtual tours in lieu of open houses via digital technologies, social media, etc. in lieu of property showings whenever possible. If virtual tours are not feasible, limit the number of people present during showings. When a real estate licensee or renter is present, maintain physical distance at all times.
- Employees and/or contractors must open doorways or other areas of ingress or egress prior to in-person property showings to minimize clients touching surfaces.
- Real estate licensees should remind clients to maintain physical distancing during showings and refrain from touching handles, switches, pulls, etc.
- All persons on property for in-person showings should avoid touching knobs, faucets, toilets and toilet handles, light switches, garage door opener buttons, handles and pulls, alarm system controls, fan pulls, remotes, thermostats, switch boxes, gates and gate latches, window locks and sashes, pool coverings, and other such items.
- Prior to and concluding in-person showings, real estate licensees must disinfect mobility and safety fixtures on the property such as handrails and banisters.
- All home inspectors and prospective homebuyers who accompany the inspectors should use face coverings while performing on-property inspections. Home inspectors must have access to and utilize soap and hand sanitizer.
- All information must be delivered electronically. Discontinue providing handouts or other types of promotional or informational materials.
Additional requirements must be considered for vulnerable populations. The real estate industry must comply with all Cal/OSHA standards and be prepared to adhere to its guidance as well as guidance from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Additionally, employers must be prepared to alter their operations as those guidelines change.