“The real estate industry has been declared an essential service BUT it is NOT business as usual,” TRREB President Michael Collins said.

Realtors in Ontario should avoid all forms of open houses and client meetings, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board told its 56,000 members on Tuesday.

As coronavirus cases rise locally and around the globe, Canada’s most populous province declared a state of emergency while ordering all non-essential businesses to close by Tuesday. To protect themselves and curb the spread of the new respiratory disease, real estate professionals should also avoid any face-to-face contact with clients for the time being, TRREB said in its most recent release in response to member questions.

Michael Collins

“The real estate industry has been declared an essential service BUT it is NOT business as usual,” TRREB President Michael Collins said in a prepared statement. “This was done primarily to ensure homeowners with pending closings, i.e., those who have already bought and need to sell, or those who have sold and have to buy, etc., are able to transact.”

For Realtors, this means to put off any non-essential face-to-face contact such as showings, client meetings, visits to the office and open houses in particular. If they are not able to do so, Realtors should maintain a distance of at least six feet from the person and have disinfecting products before and after the meeting.

“Realtors have a responsibility to protect their own safety, as well as the safety of their colleagues, clients, and the general public,” Collins said. “Members should adapt their practice to ensure that their professional activities are safe and comply with all guidance provided by Health Canada, the Province of Ontario and medical professionals.”

On its part, TRREB has removed open house listing times from its website and Realtor.ca and vowed not to enforce its MLS Rule for showings and inspections for the time of the shutdown. Property listings will still remain up and Realtors should continue to do what they can remotely, the board advises.

“Many aspects of the home buying and selling process can continue to occur without in-person contact, including documentation and signing, and in many circumstances, closings,” Collins said. “We’re still at a critical phase with this pandemic, and we all have to do our part to be successful in confronting this challenge in order to protect the health and safety of all.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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