Note: As of March 23rd Governor Baker issued a stay-at-home advisory and we at Lamacchia Realty do not recommend that you perform open houses. We are recommending that people abide by the Governor’s order.

coronavirus and open housesGiven the current set of circumstances with the Coronavirus, many home sellers are rightfully anxious about having an open house. As Anthony explained in his Facebook live Crush In in Real Estate video geared mostly towards Realtors, we believe that conducting open houses in the traditional sense isn’t a good idea.  Instead, open houses should be limited to what’s called small group showings where the traffic is controlled by only allowing a certain amount of people in at a given time.

Some sellers are in the position where they have to sell right now regardless of what’s currently going on and Realtors can handle this by being smart.  They need to wash hands first before entering the property for a showing, advise buyers not to touch a single thing, only allow a small group in at a time, and only if they’re in perfect health and living with people in perfect health.  The weather has been fairly pleasant, so open windows to allow for air to circulate. Sellers should be advised of the same tips.  Allow small groups in and then disinfect any surface that could have been touched as well as whats advised below.

The real estate market is still active as explained by Anthony Lamacchia in this video (click here to view), so if you’re a seller and you have showings booked, here is what you can do to prepare in general, as well as during this period of time when you can’t be too careful about germs.

As for preventing the spread of Covid-19, this is what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends when it comes to keeping you and your family safe.

  • Tried and true, wash your hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  To make it more fun for kids (and for you), sing a song to pass the time.  Things like Happy Birthday, the ABCs, and If You’re Happy and you Know it are all 20 seconds or more when sung through twice. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol works well too.
  • Disinfect high touch surfaces. Cell phones, computers, toys, doorknobs, light switches, and TV remotes are used multiple times a day and can get dirty quickly. Cleaning the areas at least once a day can help stop the spread of germs.
  • When it comes to washable stuffed animals or other stuffed toys, check on the item’s recommended cleaning instructions and launder the items based on what’s suggested.
  • Make sure your Realtor displays signage requiring that anyone who has or lives with someone exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 stay out of the home.
  • Try to get your Realtor to group all showings into long chunks so that you can just to a deep cleaning once afterward.
  • Only small groups of people will be allowed in at a time, which will help minimize the spread of germs!

Here’s what we recommend in general when prepping for an open house and showings:

  • De-clutter your house- simply getting stuff organized/packed and making sure there is enough room for buyers to move around freely.  Packing away knick-knacks and personal effects from the home makes it seem more open and easier for potential buyers to imagine their belongings in the space.
  • Remove all valuables and prescriptions – This ensures no one will be touching anything you don’t want them to touch or see.  A seller’s agent will be there to host the open house, but they can’t be in every room at once.  Make sure your valuables are tucked away.  Again, this makes sure your space is clear and diminishes the potential for anything being misplaced.
  • Clean (shovel, sweep, rake) your front walkway and stairs to reduce the amount of dirt tracked into your house.  A clean and welcoming front entryway is just the beginning of adding curb appeal, but it also will eradicate extra dirt from the bottoms of people’s shoes.
  • Make sure to have a front rug in the entryway so people can wipe their shoes as soon as they enter your house.
  • Many agents bring booties to an open house, especially when there is bad weather. Booties help protect your floors and carpets from snow, mud, dirt & water.
  • Pick up area rugs that you want to keep clean, or put down clear mats in high traffic areas to protect the floors.
  • Leave a few extra trash barrels around for visitors to easily dispose of wrappers or trash.  This is especially the case if the seller’s agent plans on offering water or snacks to guests of the open house.
  • If the agent does plan on offering snacks, discuss with them their options to make sure their furniture safe.  Water is more easily cleaned up than fruit punch!
  • See if the agent hosting plans on bringing an activity for bored kids who’ve tagged along with their parents.  A few crayons and some coloring books are a great way to keep kids entertained while the adults try to focus on the house.  It’ll also keep the kids from running around and finding other sorts of entertainment!
  • Hire a cleaner after!  If the extra work of cleaning up afterward doesn’t fit into your schedule- it’s likely a neighbor uses a local cleaner that they could recommend.  This way they’re vetted, and you know they’re trustworthy!

Open houses, as we all know, are a great way to let lots of potential home buyers check out your house at one time. Since they are such a great way to get buyers in and excited about putting in an offer, we want to make sure this is not a stressful, anxiety-filled time for home sellers. Being prepared with these easy tips will help ease your nerves about letting people into your home.