Unfortunately, more than seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still uncertain of what is safe. For example, according to a new survey by Real Estate Witch, only 60% parents said they were planning on trick-or-treating this year, and only a third of those participants said that they would be taking extra precautions. For their part, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) called trick-or-treating a moderate-to-high-risk activity.
As a real estate agent or investor, you might not think the way in which people decide to trick-or-treat should have much effect on the industry. If you think about it, however, hosting in-person showings and open houses is not unlike opening your door to hand out candy.
With that in mind, we brought you some tips on how to keep your home and your listings safe this Halloween. Read them over so that you know what to do the next time you have people show up at your door.
The first step the CDC gives to those celebrating Halloween is to consider alternative activities. The institute lists carving pumpkins and decorating your house as low-risk ways to get into the holiday spirit. Similarly, if you have a listing you are trying to sell this fall, you should consider alternatives to the traditional in-person showing.
Fortunately, technology makes this easier than ever before. These days, there are plenty of video tours that can give prospective buyers the sense that they've come as close as possible to walking through the home, without putting themselves at risk. If you're an agent and feel comfortable, you can also offer to show them the home over video chat.
If you're planning on going this route, take a moment to consider how your home will show up on video. For example, will some paint colors show up on video better than others? It may be worth getting an interior designer in to give you some feedback before you invest in a virtual tour.
It is also crucial to remain socially distant. This Halloween, many sources recommend that those who decide to trick-or-treat must try to remain socially distant throughout the entire process. In fact, 71% percent of those survey participants who plan trick-or-treat with precautions stated that social distancing was part of their plan.
In the risky world of real estate, it’s critically important to consider social distancing when you’re planning on hosting an open house. To start, you should try to limit the size of your gathering, either by requiring advance registration or by limiting the number of people who can be inside the home at any given time.
Depending on the materials available to you, it’s also worth considering if you have the ability to control the flow of traffic. You could, for instance, tape directional arrows to the wall so no two visitors have to pass each other at any given time.
When giving advice to those handing out candy this year, the CDC recommends ditching the traditional communal candy bowl and opting for individual goodie bags instead. They even took things one step further and recommended placing the goodie bags on a table so the trick-or-treaters can grab them themselves, rather than having to hand out each one.
As agents (and potentially investors), it is a good idea to follow a similar school of thought when preparing the marketing materials for your showings and open houses. If possible, it’s best to create individual packets for each person who decides to take a tour of the property. Then, leave the packets in plain sight so prospective buyers can grab them if they are interested in learning more about the property.
As far as what to put in the packets, there are countless options. At a minimum, you’ll want to include some promotional materials for the property. In addition, it is likely a good idea to include a seller’s disclosure as well as information about any extras the seller is providing such as a home warranty or any personal property.
Finally, the vast majority of the parents who will take precautions while trick-or-treating (68%) intend to have their children wear a mask as they go door-to-door this year. Notably, the CDC specifies that a typical Halloween mask is not a suitable replacement for a protective mask. In fact, if a child is going to wear a Halloween mask, the CDC recommends wearing a protective mask underneath it.
Although no one is suggesting that you have to wear layers of masks on a showing, as an agent or investor, you should wear one whenever you meet with prospective buyers. Ideally, the buyers will be wearing one, too. That said, it is never a bad idea to keep a few extras on hand in case someone forgets theirs in the car or needs a new one for any reason.
You have every right to request people wear masks to showings. It might be a good idea to brush up on your state and municipal guidelines on the issue. Taking the time to do so may help come up with a plan for how to proceed if someone does end up giving you a hard time about wearing a mask.
On the surface, Halloween celebrations and the paranormal don’t seem to have that much in common with real estate. When it comes to keeping everyone safe during the coronavirus pandemic, however, the recommendations are much the same, regardless of if you’re trying to keep prospective buyers or your own children healthy.
Use the tips above to help keep your home safe during this year’s Halloween season and beyond. Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to protect yourself against frights of all sorts, viral and the paranormal alike.