Hosting Open Houses in the Midst of Coronavirus

The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused Realtors to quickly pivot and adapt the way they do business. Specifically, agents have been forced to rethink how they show real estate.

Showings were halted after the issuance of Governor Newsom’s March 20, 2020, stay at home order – sending the real estate industry into a tailspin. The order mandated no in-person contact, making open houses impossible. Not to be deterred, Realtors began hosting virtual open houses. If potential buyers could not be physically present they could at least still see and explore the property.

In April, state and local officials began easing restrictions. Initially, Realtors could show properties, provided they were vacant (showing of occupied properties was still prohibited).

Only in late April were restrictions eased across California. The City of Los Angeles changed its order as follows:

Housing units and real property may be shown, provided that appointments and other residential viewings occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit. However, such in-person visits are not permitted when a tenant occupant is still residing in the residence, unless the owner first obtains the tenant’s written consent.

While the City of Los Angeles’ order only applies to property in the city, it has served as a guideline for other cities and counties, which have issued similar orders.

The question is: Where are we at this point with property showings? State and local orders all favor virtual tours. However, if a virtual showing is not feasible, Realtors can show the property in person, provided they obtain disclosures from all parties. To assist Realtors with the disclosure and waiver issues, The California Association of Realtors (“CAR”) developed the “Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration” (PEAD). By using the most updated PEAD, Realtors can ensure they are fulfilling their obligation to all parties under the law.

In addition to the disclosure and waiver requirements, the Department of Health issued further guidance on showings. In particular, a Realtor must post the rules for showing properties as a condition of entry, as well as a pictogram. Realtors are also required to thoroughly clean before and after each showing.  

While the disclosures and cleaning may be burdensome, it is the reality of showing properties for the foreseeable future. As of now, state and local officials have not provided any timeline for allowing regular open houses again. 

About Tim Burke

Tim is a licensed attorney in California and Nevada. He brings over 19 years of transactional and litigation experience to JohnHart. Prior to joining JohnHart, Tim was in private practice providing legal guidance to clients on Real Estate, financial, corporate, estate planning, and employment matters.

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