Safety precautions when buying and selling

While most industries are back up and running, things are far from being business as usual. As long as the threat of COVID-19 remains, businesses and consumers will need to follow various health and safety measures in the interest of containing the spread of this disease.

According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, real estate transactions will look a little different for the time being. “We need to make sure we return to work safely, which is why we sent out a Covid-19 Workplace Plan to all our offices, together with recommended safety procedures and material to be used for display purposes when conducting business. These protocols are designed to ensure the safety of our clients, our colleagues and our agents.”

In the interest of their own safety, those looking to buy or sell over this time should be aware of the following measures put in place by RE/MAX of Southern Africa to lower the risk of transmission:

Selling a property:

“To limit the risk of transmission, initial meetings with the seller will be done through digital communications (email, video call, voice call), as far as possible. Our agents will conduct as few onsite visits to the property as possible and will aim to visit once to capture all the necessary listing photos and to record a virtual tour / walk through of the home.”

Buying a property:

“When it comes to marketing a property, were possible, our agents will record virtual tours of all their listings. These will be shared with clients electronically (via WhatsApp, WeTransfer, social media, YouTube, etc). Instead of holding open homes, our agents will host a virtual open home via Facebook or other similar technology. Only once all digital means of viewing the home have been provided, should buyers be given the option to view the home in person.”

Serious buyers to arrange a private viewing

“Private viewings must be conducted by appointment only with the consent of the sellers. Our agents will screen potential buyers to ensure only qualified and serious buyers or renters are taken to view properties to limit risk of transmission. If anyone falls within the high-risk category, it is preferable that these occupants should not be present for the viewing. Though all attendees (which will be a maximum of two people from the buyers’ and/or renter’s party) will be informed that the viewing is contactless, the home must be thoroughly sterilized by the agent after the viewing has taken place, in particular surfaces that have been accidentally touched by visitors.”

Rules for private viewings include:

  • Meet at the property (travel independently).
  • If possible, property occupants not to be in the property during viewings.
  • Seller / landlord to open internal/external doors as appropriate beforehand to minimise risk of surface transmission.
  • All attendees are to wear cloth masks while viewing the property and sanitize their hands before entering the property.
  • Hand sanitizer is positioned at the entrance of the property and is available to all attendees.
  • Clients are reminded that the viewing is ‘contactless’ and surfaces may not be touched.
  • Physical distancing of 1,5m to be maintained.
  • No physical contact between attendees (e.g. no hugs, no handshakes).
  • The agent (who may choose to wear gloves) will open any doors / cupboards on behalf of attendees if the property occupant is unable to.
  • Private viewings to be kept as brief as possible.
  • COVID-19 information and hygiene notices will be displayed at the entrance to property.
  • Private viewings will be spaced sufficiently apart to allow time for sanitising after each viewing and to ensure there is no contact between potential buyers and/or renters.

Allowing Third-Parties Access to the Property

“Once a buyer is ready to make an offer, various third-parties will need to be granted access to the home, such as a valuer, building inspector, engineer, etc. These will be arranged strictly by appointment only and with the consent of the seller. All health and safety protocols with respect to “in-person meetings” to be upheld (e.g. wearing of face masks, social distancing, etc.).”

Signing of Contracts

“It is preferable that documents are delivered to the client and that Zoom calls or other video-based conferencing is used to explain terms and conditions of the contract. Should a meeting to sign documents be required, all parties are to maintain social distancing practices, wear a facemask and where possible, wear gloves. Each to use their own pen to avoid spreading germs. The agent will also provide sanitizer for attendees to use and will sanitize all surfaces (such as the desk at which the documents were signed) before and after the meeting takes place.”

Key Hand Over & Outgoing/Ingoing Inspections

“When conducting inspections or key handovers, all attendees are to maintain social distancing practices during the inspection of the premises (no handshakes, no hugs, etc.) and wear a facemask for the duration of the meeting. The agent will sanitize all surfaces that were touched after the inspection has been completed and will also sanitize the keys before handover.

“The above procedures have been put in place to protect everyone involved in the transaction. Provided these measures are followed, the process of buying and selling homes presents very low risk to buyers, sellers and agents.

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