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Guidelines for California Real Estate Showings in the COVID-19 Era

Key highlights from this article:

  • California real estate showings have been modified due to COVID-19.
  • The Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA issued news guidelines in May 2020.
  • In July, California Association of REALTORS® explained those guidelines to its members.
  • Guidance includes limiting the number of people, disinfecting, and posting entry rules.

Guidelines for California Real Estate Showings During COVID

This is a topic we’ve covered before. But with the state’s Realtor association issuing revised guidelines this month, we thought it was a good time to revisit the subject.

A bit of background. When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic erupted in the U.S., government officials had to determine which businesses were considered “essential” and which were not. Essential services were allowed to continue on, with modifications. Non-essential businesses had to shut down or limit their operations.

Real estate and closing companies were deemed essential, since they directly affect the housing of people. But new guidelines were issued for real estate showings and property visits These guidelines allow the real estate industry to move forward, while safeguarding public health at the same time.

The guidelines and requirements for real estate showings in California have been modified and “tweaked” over the past few months. In May 2020, the state’s Department of Health and Cal/OSHA published a document entitled “COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Real Estate Transactions.”

This 12-page PDF document (link below) offers specific guidelines and requirements for conducting real estate business in general, and for conducting property showings in particular.

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Key Component: The COVID-19 ‘Prevention Plan’

Many of the state’s guidelines and requirements for real estate showings in California can be filed under ‘C’ for common sense. These include disinfecting surfaces, wearing a mask when around others, limiting the number of people who are inside the home, opening windows when possible, etc.

But there’s also a newer component that real estate agents should know about. It’s called the prevention plan. State health officials advise agents and brokers to:

“Establish a written, workplace-specific COVID-19 prevention plan at every facility, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas and work tasks, and designate a person at each facility to implement the plan.”

These guidelines apply to workspaces as well as real estate property showings in California. Here are some highlights from the above-mentioned document:

  • Real estate companies and/or brokers should establish a written COVID-19 prevention plan to be followed by all agents who show properties to potential buyers.
  • Prevention plans should include a clear set of rules for agents and house hunters entering a property, and should be posted at the entrance of the property.
  • The written rules should include requirements for wearing face coverings and using hand sanitizer.
  • The prevention plan should also advise home buyers to “maintain physical distancing and avoid touching surfaces of the shown property.”
  • The state also encourages agents and brokers to include the rules (or at least link to the rules) from online public real estate listings websites and MLS listings. Posted rules should be “clearly visible and include pictograms,” according to state guidelines.

Posted Rules for Entry

The California Association of REALTORS (C.A.R.) refers to these as “rules for entry.” It even directs its members to obtain signatures from home buyers verifying that they understand the rules, before allowing them in for a real estate showing / property tour.

To quote the C.A.R. update from July 2:

“All visitors [to a listed property] must sign a PEAD-V form and deliver it electronically to the listing agent in advance. Doing this accomplishes several things: a) It is an agreement that the visitor will comply with the ‘Posted Rules for Entry’ (Form PRE); b) The visitor acknowledges receiving and agrees to the Prevention Plan; and c) The visitor attests they are not, to the best of their knowledge, afflicted with COVID-19, among other things.”

These and other COVID-related requirements mean that home buyers and real estate agents have to take additional steps they wouldn’t normally take. But that’s a small price to pay, when you weigh it against public health and the ongoing vitality of the real estate industry as a whole.

Where to Learn More

This is just an overview of the state’s guidelines and requirements for real estate showings in California, posted for the benefit of our readers. To learn more, you can download and review the Cal/OSHA document below:

COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Real Estate Transactions (PDF)

You can also find a wealth of information on the C.A.R. website by Googling “California Association of Realtors COVID guidance.” Agents who have specific questions about how to conduct real estate showings and property tours can refer them to their brokers, the C.A.R., or the California Department of Real Estate.

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