COVID-19 has drastically affected the world, impacting everything from international travel to supplies of toilet paper. We live in an unprecedented time, and the situation is always changing. The virus is constantly being studied by scientists across the world, and public guidance is also shifting, sometimes on a day-to-day basis.
This is why it’s so important to stay up-to-date with the most recent information and set of best practices as issued by The World Health Organization (WHO) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So, here are explanations to six misconceptions you may hear from your real estate clients regarding the coronavirus (as we know to be true from credible sources at the time of this writing).
1. Everyone should wear masks for all real estate meetings
Perhaps some of your clients showed up to meetings wearing masks (of the non-N95 type). Maybe they became upset when you arrived to see them and didn’t don one first. If you’re in an area where office meetings are still held, colleagues might have moved nervously away from you when they saw that your face wasn’t protected with a mask like theirs.
CDC’s guidelines state that masks “should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.” Health care workers, as well as people who are caring for coronavirus patients in, say, a home setting, should also wear facemasks.
However, recently, the agency’s director Robert R. Redfield said the CDC is revisiting and reviewing those guidelines in regards to healthy people. He cited “new data that shows high rates of transmission from people who are infected but show no symptoms,” according to a New York Times article published March 31.
All to say, communitywide use of masks among healthy individuals (or those who show no symptoms) is still being studied and reviewed. It’s always best to keep up with guidelines issued by the CDC and WHO for best practices. (Remember: If you do decide to wear a mask, it’s important to know how to safely put it on, take it off and dispose of it. You can find this information here.)
2. Handling mail during the coronavirus outbreak is unsafe for real estate agents and everyone else
People are afraid of the possible risks of handling mailed letters or packages during the coronavirus scare. Perhaps clients resisted looking at your mailer about the real estate market.
The WHO’s website has a detailed list of coronavirus-related questions and answers. One of them relates to the coronavirus on mail or packages. The WHO says there is a very low risk of contracting coronavirus from shipped products as those packages have traveled through different conditions and been exposed to various temperatures.
Unless it updates that conclusion, you, staff and clients should continue handling mail as usual. However, you should always err on the side of caution, and wash your hands after coming in contact with various surfaces and objects throughout the day.
3. Coronavirus spells definite doom for the global real estate market
American Realtors, as well as those located elsewhere, may receive calls from clients who say they want to hold off on their homebuying or real estate investment plans. The people on the other end of the line may tell you in panicked voices that the coronavirus will certainly cause the global real estate sector to take a prolonged dive.
The markets in South Korea and Italy have experienced downturns due to the coronavirus spread in those countries. In early March 2020, no one attended 44 open house events in New York, presumably due to fears about coronavirus. On March 23, as shelter-in-place orders took effect, open houses were suspended altogether in New York.
Clients may read such news and want to hold off on their previous intentions. However, real estate agents should remind them that it’s too early to say for sure what will happen to the market over the long term or how quickly it could bounce back.
Also, consider that clients’ reluctance to attend in-person showings gives you a perfect opportunity to enhance your site. Video tours of homes or similar interactive features acquaint users with homes from afar.
4. Mortgage refinancing won’t substantially affect a homeowner’s situation
Due to the impact of the coronavirus on personal finances, many people are trying to remain as resilient as possible. Those thinking about refinancing their mortgages may believe that doing it right now is useless. However, as content in The New York Times suggests, refinancing could help a person save cash or shorten their term to pay the loan off faster.
Remind your clients that lenders are overwhelmed right now. The process of mortgage refinancing may take longer than people expect, but it could make their finances more stable.
5. Doing the paperwork required for homebuying or selling isn’t possible during the coronavirus crisis
In this new time of social distancing, the idea of signing papers and taking care of other logistical necessities while buying and selling a home may seem completely out of the question. However, you can assure your clients that’s not true.
The National Association of Realtors published a guide for working in real estate during the coronavirus. There is a dedicated section for transaction guidance concerning people who live out of the country and cannot travel or those who will not leave their homes. It suggests considering executing the process through electronic means if your state permits it.
Additionally, several states have remote notarization laws that could help a person complete a transaction without meeting in person. If a client cannot or will not travel, real estate agents should do whatever they can to work with them.
6. It’s dangerous to use a keyboard or phone for your real estate work
Scientists published a piece in The New England Journal of Medicine about how long COVID-19 survives on certain materials. The results showed it can remain detectable on plastic for up to 72 hours. That fact may make your nervous while thinking about your plastic keyboard and phone handset.
A lot of companies have transitioned to a work-from-home environment. However, if that’s not the case with you, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. The CDC recommends disinfecting all high-touch surfaces, which would include your keyboard, mouse, phone and even desktop.
If you’re wondering what disinfectant to use, the CDC says most EPA-registered household disinfectants should do the trick. For more guidance on cleaning and disinfection, read these instructions.
Also, consider stopping practices whereby you might touch your face or mouth after a surface, such as eating at your desk without washing your hands.
Other common coronavirus myths
It’s also useful to be aware of some other false beliefs about the coronavirus. Those include:
- Drinking water stops the coronavirus: This does not paint an accurate picture. Hydration is great for supporting overall health. However, it does not prevent the coronavirus.
- A person with coronavirus symptoms should immediately visit a health facility: Doing this could put other people at risk of coronavirus. The best approach is for a person to contact their physician or health authority by phone to get further instructions.
- Gargling or ingesting substances protects against the coronavirus: Health experts warn that such interventions do nothing to safeguard you from coronavirus or effectively treat it. There’s currently no cure for the coronavirus, but preventive measures such as hand-washing and social distancing make you less likely to get it.
Accurate information empowers real estate agents and clients
The coronavirus is scary, but being armed with correct information dispels common fears. As I mentioned before, the situation is frequently changing, which is why it’s important to stay updated with the latest guidelines and recommendations.
Being informed about common misconceptions should help you ease employees’ and clients’ worries and anxieties while safely operating your real estate business.