COVID-19: A Guide for Property Agents during COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Why is IEA issuing this Guidance?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading around the world and the World Health Organization (WHO) had just declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. The spread of the infection has been accelerating in Asia and to other parts of the world, including Europe and United States of America. In response to the growing concerns about COVID-19, IEA is issuing this Guidance to help Property Agents respond to COVID-19’s potential impact on the real estate agents’ industry as the situation is rapidly evolving here and abroad.

What preventative measures may be taken to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading of COVID-19?

  • Stay home if you have a fever, cough, diarrhoea, shortness of breath or any other cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • If you are sick or feeling unwell, go consult a doctor. Be socially responsible, wear a mask. Stay home.
  • Do wash your hands frequently. If soap and water are not available, use appropriate hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or unwell.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

What issues do the COVID19 present to the real estate agents’ industry?

With an infectious disease like COVID-19, fear and anxiety may lead to social stigma and potential discrimination.  Property Agents must be mindful of their obligations and not to discriminate against any particular segment of people or clients they may come into contact with.

May I ask clients or other agents that I will be interacting with during my estate agent work if they have travelled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness or may be feeling unwell? 

Yes, you would be prudent to ask clients or others you come in contact with during your day-to-day work about their recent travels, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of COVID-19. You can ask your clients or your co-broking partners the same questions based on current, factual information, updates or further verifications from our Ministry of Health: www.gov.sg

In cases where you may be driving your clients to conduct viewings, can you refuse or opt not to drive potential clients for their home searches?

Yes. However, be sure that any changes to your normal business practices are applied equally to all clients, as well as business associates. You may refuse to pick up or drive clients for viewings if they show signs of illness OR reveal recent travels to areas of increased risk of the COVID-19, OR you may instead decide to stop driving clients in your car altogether, and simply arrange to meet clients or others at the site.

If you choose to continue to ferry clients in your vehicle, it will be good if you can clean and disinfect surfaces like door handles, seats and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizers when getting in and out of your car.

Should I continue to conduct open houses or continue to allow viewings on my listed properties?

Suggest you speak openly and honestly with your clients or business associates about the pros and cons of prospective viewings or conducting open houses.  Assess the risks, advise what steps or actions you expect from your clients or other agents and then direct your clients or other agents accordingly. If you do decide to conduct viewings or have open house activities, consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, and do provide hand sanitizers. Some occupants may insist on temperature-taking, sanitisation of hands or wearing masks before permitting admission into their property.

What precautions should estate agencies consider taking in their respective offices?

KEOs should use their best judgment when formulating any precautionary plans to support their staff, agents and their clients in view of COVID-19. Implementation of temperature screening, providing hand sanitisers, proper registration of visitors and applying options or mandatory “stay-home” policy for staff and agents exhibiting signs of illness, symptoms of being unwell.  Take prudent steps or measures to ensure the office is well ventilated as many are understandably more cautious or concern about sharing an enclosed space with others. Consider postponement or cancellation of meetings or events that involves huge number of people for safety reasons.

KEOs to continue to educate staff and agents going about with their social activities and work to adhere to good social habits, responsibilities and personal hygiene.  Contact tracing is a tedious and challenging exercise. All efforts must be in place to help contain COVID-19 and prevent others from being infected within the respective estate agencies.

IEA as a responsible industry association:

As an industry body, we would like to encourage and remind our Members who are KEOs, agents and fellow practitioners to remain vigilant, be alert, practice good personal hygiene and be socially responsible to help the fight the COVID-19 together as a sector.  Property agents are already faced with many different challenges, let’s take extra precautions to look after one another especially during co-broking arrangements and also for our loved ones at home.

Don’t let your guard down, be safe! We will overcome the COVID-19 eventually. You can learn more about the COVID19 at www.who.int/COVID-19 or www.gov.sg

We attached herewith a sample of (Please Click: HEALTH DECLARATION FORM )which Property Agents may find useful. You may make necessary changes to the Declaration Form if you deem necessary. This Guidance for Property Agents is shared by the Institute of Estate Agents, Singapore (IEA) because we care. Be safe, practice social responsibilities and maintain good personal hygiene at all times.