Right now, showings are only allowed in New York City for vacant or unoccupied units, so how do you show an apartment when you haven't moved out yet?
There are new guidelines in place for showing apartments, and while they impose strict limitations on sellers and landlords, they're the best way to keep everyone safe, our experts say.
With Phase 2 of New York City's reopening underway, the real estate industry is now permitted to conduct business in-person. Open houses of vacant and unoccupied apartments are allowed, and the Real Estate Board of New York has issued detailed instructions for showing units safely.
Many brokers agree that best practices for now are to show apartments to one buyer (or family) at a time, rather than hold open houses and invite the infection risks that come with large gatherings indoors.
"We are showing apartments now that are vacant and also lived in currently," says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran. For showings of occupied apartments, she adds, the owner must vacate, and only one prospective buyer and one agent are allowed in at a time. They must follow social distancing, wear masks, and avoid touching surfaces; agents must disinfect anything that was touched.
Sellers also have the option of asking visitors to wear gloves and booties.
If a seller or landlord is showing an apartment that has a tenant in place, the agent should ask the tenant to sign REBNY's limitation of liability form and health screening questionnaire before the showing, says Beth Miller, chief communications and marketing officer at REBNY. Tenants should not be present when agents and visitors arrive.
No doubt all of these steps add extra work for all involved.
"This is a tall order for agents who need to maintain these records and often coordinate with the building’s resident manager," Kory says. "But it is for everyone’s safety and will hopefully allow us to return to business safely."
This is certainly not the ideal way to show an apartment, but the good news is that NYC is on track for a Phase 3 reopening, which will further loosen restrictions. In the meantime, it's still a good idea to supplement your in-person showings by handling as many aspects as you can of the process virtually.
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