By: Stevie Fisher, NVAR associate director of professional services
As Realtors®, one of your primary duties is to act in the best interests of your client. Acting in the best interest of your client means many things. Be honest with all parties, be flexible and don’t forget to communicate, communicate, communicate!
When Realtors® are showing properties, one of the key realities is that everything you do requires the seller’s permission and authorization. Realtors® are faced with many challenges on an ordinary day, but even with the new challenges brought on by COVID-19, your duties under the Code of Ethics remain.
Bright MLS has temporarily relaxed their rules to allow for virtual showings and tours. Listing agents need to have honest conversations with their sellers. If your seller would like their listing to remain active, explain to them what their options are (regular showings, private showings or virtual showings) and what those options will mean for them. After the seller has provided direction, the listing agent will need to make any necessary updates to the showing instructions to indicate what type of access the seller will allow. If your seller is OK with allowing virtual showings, consider updating the remarks in the listing to provide blanket authorization for the buyer’s agents to take photos and/or videos of the property.
For agents working on behalf of the buyer, do not take photos and/or videos of the property unless you have received the seller’s permission through the listing agent. This includes video showings. If you will be using FaceTime or Skype to show your client a property, you should receive seller authorization to do so.
Remember: the Code of Ethics says, “Realtors® shall not provide access to listed property on terms other than those established by the owner or the listing broker.” It is also important for buyer’s agents to have an honest conversation with their clients. Explain to them what permissions are being given, and what options are available to them.
What about others that might need access to a property? For example, appraisers and inspectors still have a job to do that requires their being present at the property. It is possible that they might request special accommodations. An appraiser may be practicing social distancing and request that they be allowed to work without a buyer’s agent nearby. It is again important to secure permission from the listing agent before providing such access, just as it is important to be flexible and do what you can to accommodate all parties.
Don’t forget that you have one more duty to consider when making these increasingly difficult decisions. All of this boils down to keeping people (your clients, your fellow Realtors® and the public) safe. Stay up-to-date on the latest guidance and rules from the government. If the listed property is located in a condominium or property owners’ association, check to make sure that the association has not adopted any rules or restrictions on showings or accessing the common areas. When you are preparing your clients for the next step, do so while adhering to the best practices and recommendations from the CDC.
Realtors® must do their part in our community to not spread this disease. If your clients insist on continuing to buy and sell, do everything you can to protect those around you while continuing to uphold the best practices as inspired by the Code of Ethics.