COVID-19 and a Different Type of “Exposure” Risk

Jul 16, 2020

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By Ellen Baragon, Guest Contributor

Even when REALTORS® adapt strict COVID-19 safety protocols (you can review BCREA’s guidelines here), hosting open houses increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Hosting open houses also results in another type of exposure for Realtors: exposure to public scrutiny. With British Columbians anxiously watching the latest transmission numbers, neighbours in strata housing and single-family home communities will be quick to voice any concerns they have about open houses or lax safety protocols.

Realtors who proactively communicate the steps they’re taking to keep their communities safe and respond to concerns with professionalism and empathy will elevate their own reputation and the reputation of the Realtor profession.

Here are ten ideas on how to engage with the communities where you host open houses to help them understand the safety measures you are taking to adapt to our “new normal.”

Engaging your community

  1. Be proactive on your website and social media channels and post a summary of the protocols you are following at showings and open houses.
  2. Anticipate comments you might receive online or in-person and have some responses prepared in advance that highlight the steps you’re taking to keep your community safe. Be prepared to respond with empathy whenever you are contacted, whether online or in person.
  3. Prepare information sheets explaining the precautions you are taking during showings and open houses to protect the community. Two or three days prior, leave the information in the mailboxes of houses next to and across from the property where the showing will be held.
  4. Consider safety protocol toppers on signage outside the open house and including information in the take-one boxes. 
  5. Make information on your safety protocols easily accessible to other Realtors by posting it on MLS® back-end systems.
  6. If the listing is in a strata property, notify the strata manager/or council president that you are holding an open house and provide information about your safety precautions. Offer to distribute this information to residents of the strata or post it in common areas.
  7. If you make marketing videos, consider creating an explainer video on the COVID-19 safety protocols for viewings. Use your smart phone to record yourself briefly outlining what you are doing to protect the community and the buyers and sellers who come to the showing. Post it online and provide a link in all your other marketing materials.
  8. Consider which advertising mediums, such as local newspapers and/or social media, you can use to identify the measures you are taking to keep consumers safe during the COVID-19 crisis, along with tips on what consumers should expect if they are planning to attend an open house or showing.
  9. If the showing or open house is in a neighbourhood with its own Facebook page, see if the administrator of that account is willing to post information about the safety protocols you are using along with contact info for those who want to know more.
  10. Learn more about how to manage community concerns and reputation risks during COVID-19 by checking out the Open House by BCREA podcast episode with VP Crisis and Risk Ari Indyk at the global communications firm Edelman or check out this blog post for more ideas.

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