Open houses banned, new safety measures recommended amid COVID-19 pandemic: Alberta Real Estate Association

Saturday, May 23, 2020   /   by Sergey Korostensky

Open houses banned, new safety measures recommended amid COVID-19 pandemic: Alberta Real Estate Association

Selling or buying a home in Alberta has gotten a lot more difficult as the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) announced earlier this week that open houses are now banned.

The decision to ban all open houses was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, AREA chair Kristie Kruger said in a news release.

“This unprecedented health pandemic has forced all Albertans to make significant changes. Because open houses are public, with unpredictable attendance, it is difficult to ensure they comply with Alberta Health recommendations,” Kruger said. 

AREA chief executive officer Brad Mitchell told Global News on Thursday the group is recommending all realtors practice physical distancing when possible, including the use of video-conferencing where possible, virtual tours and digital signatures.

“[It’s a] tough time for our members. There’s the double whammy of the oil price war… as well as COVID-19. It will be tough here in Alberta but we’re looking forward to coming out of this strong,” Mitchell said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Calgary realtor Zee Zebian said he would do open house showings every Saturday.

Zebian said he recently had to move to a virtual showing, offering up creative solutions to showcase homes to buyers and sellers via Facebook live.

He said since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic, showings have dropped off.

“It’s been difficult because a lot of people have based their business off of open houses, [and] meeting people that way as well, Zebian said.
“I think prevention is key. When we have a booking come in for a showing, we’re asking everyone if they’re in good health. Is the realtor in good health? [Are] there multiple people coming to the property that maybe shouldn’t be there necessarily?”

Zebian said he and other realtors now have hand sanitizer ins personalized showings and will wipe down door handles and other items people may have touched.
AREA represents more than 10,000 realtors across the province and 10 local real estate boards and associations.