Real estate businesses use flexible viewing to sell amid COVID-19 concerns

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Governor Eric Holcomb’s Stay-At-Home order has shuttered many Hoosier businesses for the time being but real estate businesses fall into the group of essential businesses allowed to stay open.

Realtors have been deemed an essential industry because there are people who still need to find housing or sell their houses. Century 21 Broker Christopher Stockamp said although they have to be mindful of the new restrictions as they come out and of their client’s personal comfort, it is easy for a buyer to find their next home while staying inline with the social distance recommendations while avoiding any unfamiliar environments.

“Some people, they don’t want to be around you, so you unlock the house, you allow them in,” said Stockamp. “Other people, they want to do a virtual tour. They’ll pull it up and just watch the video on YouTube, make the assessment that way.”

Then there are some who still want to see the house in-person.

“There are others who, they’re conscious but they’re aware, you know, keep your six feet, don’t shake your hand,” said Stockamp.

Agents like Matthew Hawkins are giving live tours of homes by way of video apps.

“I think the Facetime stuff really helps people see how the rooms flow, you know, what does the house feel like because pictures online can be deceiving sometimes.”

Hawkins has offered FaceTime tours before but he said with the concerns surrounding COVID-19 it is more appealing to people now. 

“Especially with what’s going on today in this season here, helps the save a trip out, feel more safe,” said Hawkins.

When they do give those in-person tours, they take extra precautions, like sanitizing surfaces and wearing booties in the homes. According to Hawkins, sellers often leave instructions for the viewings as well as leave the lights on so that the viewers do not have to touch the light switches every time they enter or leave a room.

The Upstate Alliance of Realtors would like to clarify that virtual showings require permission from homeowners before realtors can publish photos or video, or give FaceTime tours. President Renee Cox said in a statement:

“We want to assure sellers that Realtors® take the safety and security of their homes very seriously. If you have a listing contract with a brokerage, your Realtor® must accompany potential buyers on showings,” said Renee Cox, 2020 President of the Upstate Alliance of Realtors. “Likewise, written permission from sellers is required prior to videotaping a tour of their home for a virtual showing. And buyers agents are never authorized to videotape and post another agent’s listing on a digital platform.”

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