Adjusting to the coronavirus outbreak is the new normal, and like everyone else, real estate agents are working to keep themselves and their clients safe.
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, conducted on March 9 and 10, almost one out of every four sellers is making changes to how their home is viewed, whether it’s by temporarily suspending open houses, requiring homebuyers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer or asking them to remove their shoes or wear booties during showings.
In two of the hardest hit states — Washington and California — those numbers jump to 44% and 34%, respectively.
The survey also showed that buyer interest in most states remains high, with 78% noting no change and a mere 16% saying it’s decreasing.
Those numbers could change, however, if harder hit states are any roadmap. Twenty-one percent of California respondents reported waning buyer interest and 19% of Washington agents reported a decline in potential homebuyers in the market.
Agents in Atlanta are already making adjustments in terms of showings.
Cynthia Baer, associate broker with Keller Williams Realty Metro Atlanta East Intown, said she’s putting out booties and hand sanitizer (deftly labeled with her contact information) at her listings “and having discussions with my elderly sellers regarding options.”
She instructed one client whose home goes on the market next week to make sure to clean surfaces after showings and stay in their second home while the house is being shown to potential buyers.
“I’m not sure how our market will truly be affected, but am concerned we will see a slowdown as people feel uncomfortable moving forward with purchases as economy is unstable and sellers [are] not wanting strangers in their home or unable to leave due to quarantines,” she said in an email. “Sadly, it’s difficult to predict what will happen as we’ve never dealt with a pandemic in our market before.”
Kristen Jones, broker-owner with RE/MAX Around Atlanta, said agents there are stocking up on hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes “but, for the most part, conducting business as usual.”
“Showing homes is fairly low-risk if you your wash hands in between each home and avoid touching your face,” she said in an email, adding that historically low interest rates are resulting in multiple offers on listings.
Jones said it’s in the best interest of clients, the economy and the industry to be intentional and take precautions to contain the spread of the virus. “Personally, I would rather err on the side of caution and be wrong,” she said. “It is much easier to contain than it is to mitigate.”