On Friday, July 17 at 12:01 a.m. Waterloo Region will move into Stage 3 of reopening. You can find the official overview of what Stage 3 means here on the Ontario governments’ website. As you may have already heard, open houses will be allowed as part of Phase 3.

 

But this does not mean things will return to how they were pre-pandemic, as there are still public health guidelines, physical distancing, the maximum number of attendees and municipal bylaws that must be followed.

 

The executive summary relating to open houses is:

–    Face -coverings must be worn by all REALTORS® both hosting and attending both public and REALTOR® open houses (Waterloo Region has passed a by-law requiring face-coverings to be worn in enclosed public spaces – which includes open houses).

• You can view the by-law here

• Exceptions for wearing a face-covering are outlined in the municipal by-law

 

–    Face- coverings must be worn by everyone attending the open house, but this is an individual’s responsibility and the region does not require the REALTOR® to police this.

• However, if the Seller has instructed face masks to be worn by everyone entering their property then the REALTOR® will be responsible to ensure the Seller’s directions are complied with (“if you say it, do it”).

• There is still the physical distance requirement of two meters between individuals within an open house (or showing). So, while Stage 3 will allow a maximum of 50 people (total, including REALTORS®) at an open house, the practical limit is much smaller. It is recommended you determine with your seller(s) in advance what is the appropriate maximum number of people you will allow in a particular property at a time, and how you will manage this.

 

–   Identifying everyone who attends an open house will be even more important in case someone in attendance reports they contracted COVID-19. In addition to the standard information you collect on attendees, you should include a means of contacting them but declare when you collect the information that you will only use their contact information for the purpose of notifying them of any health concerns (note that under PIPEDA personal information can only be used for the purpose you disclosed when collecting it).

 

As a REALTOR®, you must comply with all provincial requirements, the municipal guidelines and then all the standard REALTOR® Code of Ethics when conducting an open house. The reality is that people, some more than others, will remain hyper-sensitive and vigilant to these requirements and if they experience an open house where the requirements are not being followed, then based on the correspondence we have already received, we suspect they will not hesitate to report the breach to the appropriate authority.

 

We have also heard from some members who have expressed that just because they will be allowed to conduct open houses in person, it does not mean that they will stop offering virtual open houses to their clients. The obvious benefits of the virtual open houses are the enhanced safety and security (from infection as well as physical safety and protection of the seller’s property/possessions), potential to reach a global audience, time commitment and flexibility of when they are hosted.

 

Please note that while Waterloo Region is entering Stage 3, some other regions of the province are not. If you have a listing or business in another region you should confirm their status along with any additional municipal by-laws prior in advance of any activity.

Many Realtors are now using special pre-screening and consent forms (like this one developed by CREA) prior to potential buyers viewing a property for sale or rent.

Did you know you can attach these forms and other documents in Matrix and ShowingTime so that all Realtors booking an appointment will receive them automatically?

We have created this 3-minute tutorial to walk you through this simple process.