10 Important Etiquette Rules Every Home Buyer and Seller Should Know During Coronavirus Time

Story Highlights
  • #1 - Respect social distancing
  • #2 - Wash hands
  • #3 - Use hand sanitisers
  • #4 - Avoid handshaking
  • #5 - Wear (disposable) gloves
  • #6 - Practice respiratory hygiene
  • #7 - Remove of shoes
  • #8 - Use of bathroom
  • #9 - Wear a mouth mask
  • #10 - Viewings with young children

It goes without saying that the arrival of Coronavirus COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across the world. 

Our personal lives have been affected by closures of schools, public venues, cancelations of concerts, convention centres, and now more-and-more people are being asked to work from home. Social distancing might become the Phrase of 2020. 

Meanwhile, albeit at a much slower pace, life continues for those of us looking to buy or sell a home, whether the reason is job-related, financial, (e)migration, or any other life-altering change.

There will undoubtedly be home sellers who are no longer comfortable having their home for sale and prefer to retract their properties from the market. However, as of this writing, it seems the vast majority of home sellers remain motivated to sell their homes, but have, understandably so, relevant concerns going forward.

To avoid catching and/or spreading the Coronavirus, home buyers and sellers should pay close attention to these preventative etiquette rules advisable when viewing a property:

#1 – Respect social distancing

Whereas before, the real estate agent might have driven prospective buyers a number of houses in his personal vehicle, given the ‘social distancing’ guideline (perhaps we ought to refer to it as ‘spacial distancing’ instead), home buyers might prefer to meet on-site using their own vehicle.

In order to ‘follow the World Health Organisation rules‘ of keeping a 1-meter distance at all times between any two persons, one-on-one showings are advisable.

#2 – Wash hands

As a home buyer, make sure to wash your hands prior to the viewings (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time). Preferably, dry them afterward using paper towels that can immediately be thrown away.

The real estate agent might be requested by the home sellers to ensure any visitors wash their hands upon entering the property as well, so don’t be offended if that question arises upon arrival at the house. 

#3 – Use hand sanitisers

By now, most of us have alcohol-based hand sanitisers handy in the car or on our person, and will have used them before exiting the vehicle. 

However, there’s a very good chance the real estate agent will present you with hand sanitiser at the entrance of the property and ask you to quickly clean your hands. 

Let’s rather be safe than sorry and give those hands another rub – this way, the agent can genuinely tell the home seller he’s made sure every visiting buyer sanitised his/her hands upon entering the home.

#4 – Avoid handshaking

Physical handshakes, hugs or kisses might have been the way to go prior to the Coronavirus, however, in light of this being exactly how the virus spreads, one should not be surprised (nor insulted!) to have the real estate agent extend his elbow as a greeting

Similarly, if the home seller is present and introductions ensue. There’s no need to feel socially uncomfortable – we all know what’s happening at the moment. 

Extending one’s elbow and lightheartedly saying, “I guess this is how we ought to be greeting one another from now on,” is more than enough to address the proverbial elephant in the room!

#5 – Wear (disposable) gloves

The real estate agent might consider providing a set of gloves (or bring your own) to wear during the viewing. As we know, interested home buyers like to ‘touch the house(ie slide hands over kitchen countertops, feel the quality of cabinet doors, open closets to look inside, etc) which given the current circumstances may make some sellers feel uncomfortable. 

Any individual refusing to wear these disposable gloves should refrain from touching anything in the house. These individuals should rather ask the glove-wearing real estate agent to open doors, closets, etc. to assist.

After all, contamination on surfaces is one of the main ways the virus spreads.

#6 – Practice respiratory hygiene

Particularly during these uncertain times, try to follow good respiratory hygiene.

Or, in other words, when sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow (aka ‘chicken wing’) or tissues.

#7 – Remove shoes

As it stands, a number of sellers don’t appreciate having water, mud, or dirt traipsed through their homes. Going forward, extra precautions by sellers might require that all viewing parties remove their shoes, or wear shoe covers.  

A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 1-in-4 home sellers is requiring interested home buyers to wash their hands, use hand sanitiser, remove shoes, or wear shoe covers.

#8 – Use of bathroom

Going to the bathroom during a viewing is always a tricky one. Try to empty those nervous bladders at the local coffee shop a few blocks away prior to/after the viewing. 

If you must urgently go, perhaps ask the real estate agent for wipes to make sure everything you touch gets wiped down to reduce the chances of virus infection. 

After all, wouldn’t you appreciate it if a prospective buyer were to use your bathroom in these uncertain (virus) times, and clean up after himself by wiping down the countertop, toilet seat, and water tap?

#9 – Wear a mouth mask

Some home sellers might prefer to practice extra caution and request all visiting home buyers to wear a mouth mask as well.

Whether such a request is realistic (or logistically practical) is a different matter, as rampant shortages of mouth masks may hinder the buyers’ (or agents’) ability to do so.

#10 – Viewings with young children

Given home sellers heightened concern regarding potentially exposing their home to the Coronavirus, any viewings of properties with young children might be highly discouraged.

After all, enforcing the abovementioned precautions will very likely be a challenge with little ones bouncing around the house and touching everything, wouldn’t you agree?

Finally, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that, nowadays, many home sellers have video cameras installed. So, in addition to refraining from expressing whether you love or hate the place, and discussing financial budgets or motivations, prospective home buyers should be conscious of the fact that the seller may have the ability to closely monitor their actions throughout the viewing. 

Needless to say, if it turns out that some of these basic guidelines of viewing a house during the Coronavirus time have been violated, it might negatively affect the sellers’ response to any serious formal interest by the home buyer.

Why would the seller want to entertain a buyer’s offer if the buyer couldn’t be bothered to respect the seller’s basic etiquette rules upon viewing his sanctuary?

On a closing note, if a buyer viewing has been arranged, should either party experience a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, it is advisable to seek medical attention. Or, at least, cancel the appointment and stay at home! There’s no need to jeopardize anyone’s health – another viewing can always be arranged once you feel better!

If the viewing does take place, I hope that these abovementioned etiquette rules for both home buyer and seller prove helpful or come in handy!

Stay safe.

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About the author: The above article “10 Important Etiquette Rules Every Home Buyer and Seller Should Know During Coronavirus Time” was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 20 years combined experience as a real estate agent, real estate investor and landlord, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.

Make sure to connect with him via these social media platforms: LinkedIn, Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

© 2015-2020, Xavier De Buck. All Rights Reserved.

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