Rand Realty Client Advisory: Taking Special Precautions During the Coronavirus Epidemic

UPDATE 3.21.2020.  As per the new New York  and New Jersey  “stay-at-home” restrictions, we are now instructing our agents to no longer provide showings of listings, our offices are closed, and we encourage everyone to stay at home at all times unless you have “essential business.”

UPDATE: 3.17.2020

A message to our clients:

We understand if you want to take a break from buying or selling a home during the coronavirus outbreak, and give the virus time to run its course. That’s your decision, and we respect it.  We will keep you informed about what’s happening in the market in the meantime, and will be prepared to help you when you’re ready to get back in.

But if you do wish to continue the process of buying or selling your home, we are ready and able to assist you. As we write this in mid-March, healthy people are not being advised to self-quarantine unless they are in “hot zones” or have pre-existing conditions that make them particularly susceptible to the coronavirus – if they are over 60 years old or have heart or lung problems.  So for most of you, there’s no reason you can’t continue to look for a home, or keep your home on the market — so long as you take some fundamental precautions.

 

  1. Wash your hands – and other hygienic practices

Soap is the very best preventative for communicating the virus, so use it.  Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water.  If you can’t wash your hands, the next best thing is to use an anti-bacterial wipe or gel both before and after you come into contact with other people, objects, or surfaces. And try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. If you sneeze or cough, do it into a tissue, then throw away the tissue, then wash your hands or wipe them down.

 

  1. Keep your distance – even from your agent!

You don’t need to hide in your basement, but you should try to keep a “social distance” from others when working, shopping, socializing. Give yourself 5-6 feet of distance from other people if possible, and avoid large groups of people. And that goes for greetings — no kissing, hugging, handshakes. Even the elbow shake is probably not a good idea. Instead, try the “heartfelt” gesture: both hands over your heart and a nod of your head to the person you’re greeting.

 

  1. Use videoconferencing as much as possible.

You and your agent – and anyone else you’re working with on your transaction –should try to communicate as much as possible by videoconference rather than in-person meetings, just to limit the amount of interaction you have with other people.  if you are all on iPhones, you can easily do a Facetime meeting. And if you are all on Facebook, then Facebook Messenger has an easy-to-use video conferencing tool.  But you can also use any number of apps and services for video, including Whatsapp, Snapchat, Skype, and Zoom.

 

  1.  Stagger the closing.

Talk to your attorneys about setting up staggered closings to avoid requiring all the parties to be in the room at the same time. You need to sign papers and fulfil some other closing functions, but you don’t necessarily need to do that with the other side present.

 

  1. 5.  Take precautions on showings and open houses.

At this point, we see no reason to discontinue showings or open houses so long as you follow fundamental distancing and hygienic protocols.  Try to follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your distance, even if it seems unfriendly.
  • Remember: no shaking hands when you meet!
  • Drive your own car to showings, rather than traveling with the agent in his or her car.
  • Minimize touching of surfaces in houses.
  • Bring paper towels with you, and use a clean paper towel or tissue to hold when you open doors or touch surfaces. .
  • Try to wipe down every surface or handle after the showing or open house.
  • Try to wash or wipe down your hands on the way in, and the way out.
  • At the open house, keep your distance from other visitors, and let the hosting agent sign you in rather than handle a clipboard or tablet.
  1. Buy some disposable gloves

if you can get some disposable gloves, keep them in your car for when you go on showings.  Put on a pair when you go into the house, and then strip them off and throw them away when you leave. It’s a good way to avoid touching any surfaces with your bare hands.

 

  1.  Stay home if you’re not feeling well!

All this applies ONLY if you’re feeling okay.  If you’re not feeling well with any kind of cough or fever, stay home. At this point, you probably have a normal flu or some common cold, but don’t take chances. Call your doctor and otherwise get help. But if you’re not well, you shouldn’t be out looking at houses, or having someone come to see your home for sale.

 

NOTE: If you are high-risk, then stay home!

Everything we’ve said here applies only to healthy people who are not in a high-risk category.  If you are over 60, or have pre-existing heart or lung problems, you should probably be limiting your outside contacts as much as possible to reduce your chances of catching the virus. If you do need to go out, then take extra precautions and be extremely careful.

 

 

 

Posted on March 11, 2020 at 2:35 pm
Joseph Rand | Category: Client Advisory, Coronavirus | Tagged

Agent Advisory: Seven Tips for Real Estate Agents About Taking Care of Themselves and Their Clients During the Coronavirus Epidemic

UPDATE 3.21.2020.  As per the new New York  and New Jersey  “stay-at-home” restrictions, we are now instructing our agents to no longer provide showings of listings, our offices are closed, and we encourage everyone to stay at home at all times unless you have “essential business.”

Can you continue to work through the coronavirus epidemic? Yes, but you need to take precautions.

As we write this in mid-March, healthy people are not being advised to self-quarantine unless they are in “hot zones” or have pre-existing conditions that make them particularly susceptible to the coronavirus – if they are over 60 years old or have heart or lung problems.  So for most of you, there’s no reason you can’t continue to work, and your clients can’t continue to buy and sell homes.

That said, you should be careful about how you talk to your clients about buying or selling homes, and sensitive to their concerns. We don’t think it’s a good idea to blast out emails or posts like “RATES ARE LOW – IT’S a GREAT TIME TO BUY!!!!” when people around the country are sick and maybe dying.  You never know if that client has a family member who has been afflicted.  So be careful in your messaging, and provide them with the advisories we’ve prepared for our clients.

As for you, you should take some basic precautions to protect your business and your clients during this time:

  1.  Prepare yourself to work remotely.

You should be prepared that we might at some point get advice or instruction to close the offices and work solely from home. Do you have all the equipment you need? Do you have all the papers you need? Do you have access to all your accounts from a laptop or home computer? If you don’t, then now is the time to get prepared for a potential lockdown.

  1.  Prepare your “vacation coverage.”  

You know how you prepare coverage with your colleagues for when you go on vacation — “while I’m away, could you handle my calls, and I’ll pay you a referral fee if they buy/sell?”  You should find someone you trust right now, and make your arrangements to cover situations if either of you get sick or get quarantined.  You don’t want your business to grind to a halt.

  1. Learn how to use video conferencing.

As we get further into this pandemic, you’ll want to limit travel and in-person meetings as soon as possible. It’s a good reason to get familiar with videoconferencing systems that you can use to meet virtually with clients:

 

  • Google Hangouts. You all have access to Google’s videoconferencing system through our deal with Google.  Learn how to use it!
  • Facebook Messenger: You and your clients are both probably on Facebook, which means you can use the Messenger video conferencing feature.
  • Facetime: if you and your clients are both Apple iPhone users, you can communicate easily through Facetime.
  • Skype: Skype is the original videoconferencing app. You and your clients will both need accounts, but they’re easy to set up.
  • Snapchat: You may not be on Snapchat, but your younger clients probably are – and it has videoconferencing features.
  • Whatsapp: Whatsapp is also popular among younger people and international clients, and has an easy-to-use video feature.
  • Zoom: the advantage of Zoom is that you can invite your clients to videoconference through a browser, without requiring them to have an account or an app.

Practice with them now so that you’re familiar with them if and when you need them.  And, to be honest, you should probably know how to use them anyway!

  1.  Buy a box of disposable gloves for showings

Buy a box of disposable gloves that you can give to your clients on showings.  They can put on the gloves when they go into a house, and then throw them away when they leave.  it’s a good way to avoid touching anything surfaces you’re your bare hands.  And get a box for each of your sellers so they can leave them at the front door for visitors.  Right now, you can buy a box of 100 gloves on Amazon right now for about $15, and have them delivered in a couple of days.

  1.  Reduce in-person closings

We’ve always said that there’s no reason we need everyone to be in a room for a closing. Now, we should live by that.  Talk to your attorneys about setting up staggered closings to avoid requiring all the parties to be in the room at the same time.

  1.  Continue to hold showings and open houses. 

At this point, we see no reason to discontinue showings or open houses so long as you follow basic distancing protocols.  Try to follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your distance, even if it seems unfriendly.
  • Remember: no shaking hands when you meet!
  • Let your buyers drive their own cars on showings
  • Remind people to minimize touching of surfaces in houses.
  • Get a clean paper towel or tissue to hold when you open doors.
  • Leave interior doors open when possible so buyers don’t have to use door handles.
  • At open houses, use a “one group at a time” rule for each floor of a house, to minimize interaction among visitors.
  • Sign people in yourself on your phone or tablet, rather than requiring them to touch anything.
  • Try to wipe down every surface or handle after the showing or open house.
  • Try to wash or wipe down your hands on the way in, and the way out.
  1.  Maintain a positive attitude for your clients

A great real estate agent provides clients with amazing service experiences regardless of the situation. While recognizing the seriousness of the situation, try to focus on what your clients need from you, and how you can give it to them. Again, without being too pollyannaish about what is going to be a difficult time for many people, remember some basic messages for our clients:

  • For buyers: It really is an amazing time to buy a home with rates lower than at any time in 50 years, and other buyers sitting on the sidelines.
  • For sellers: there’s no reason to stay off the market right now — buyers are still out there, and showings carry a minimal risk of infection if you take basic before-and-after precautions.
  • For sphere clients: If you have not refinanced your mortgage in the past year, you should look at doing it now.

Again, the point is simple: we should continue to do our jobs. Our clients need us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on March 11, 2020 at 2:32 pm
Joseph Rand | Category: Coronavirus | Tagged

Rand Realty’s Advisory: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus

UPDATE 3.21.2020.  As per the new New York  and New Jersey  “stay-at-home” restrictions, we are now instructing our agents to no longer provide showings of listings, our offices are closed, and we encourage everyone to stay at home at all times unless you have “essential business.”

 

Published March 11, 2020

UPDATE March 17, 2020

We wanted to put out this general Advisory about the Coronavirus Epidemic, and what our clients, agents, and employees should be doing to minimize the spread of the virus.

First of all, if you are at high-risk, you should be staying isolated at home except if you need to go out for groceries, medicine, or medical treatment. What do we mean by high-risk?

  • If you have pre-existing heart troubles.
  • If you have pre-existing respiratory troubles.
  • If you are diabetic.
  • If you are over 60 years old.

People at high-risk are at an elevated risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, so they should be especially careful about staying close to home during this time.

But even if you’re not high-risk, you should stay home as much as possible, and follow hygienic protocols to reduce your risk of catching or spreading the virus.  Why?

  • The coronavirus has proven to be fatal even to healthy people — the chances are lower than if you’re high-risk, but the virus is still a lot more deadly than the average flu.
  • Even if you’re asymptomatic, you could be a carrier, and you could communicate the virus to someone who is high-risk.
  • As a society, we need to reduce the spread of this virus in order to lower the burden on our health care infrastructure — we want to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the infection so we don’t overwhelm emergency rooms and intensive care units.

So what kinds of precautions should you take?

  1.  Wash your hands!

Soap is the very best preventative for communicating the virus, so use it.  Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water.

  1.  Use Anti-Bacterial wipes and gel.

If you can’t wash your hands, the next best thing is to use an anti-bacterial wipe or gel both before and after you come into contact with other people, objects, or surfaces. And use those wipes to wipe down any objects or surfaces you touch or plan on touching.

  1.   Social Distancing: Keep your distance!

If you do have the leave your home, should try to keep a “social distance” from others when out of your home. Give yourself 5-6 feet of distance from other people if possible.

  1.  Social Distance Greetings: No handshakes, hugs, kisses

No kissing, hugging, handshakes. Even the elbow shake is probably not a good idea. Instead, try the “heartfelt” gesture: both hands over your heart and a nod of your head to the person you’re greeting.

  1.  Avoid large groups.

Avoid gatherings of more than a dozen people in close proximity. Don’t go to dinner — get takeout instead.

  1.  Hands off your face!

Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  1.  Keep tissues handy for coughs and sneezes.

If you sneeze or cough, do it into a tissue, then throw away the tissue, then wash your hands or wipe them down.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand — and then wash or wipe yourself down.

  1.  Stay isolated if you’re not feeling well!

If you’re not feeling well with any kind of cough or fever, stay isolated home. At this point, you probably have a normal flu or some common cold, but don’t take chances. If your symptoms become serious, call your doctor or get medical attention.

  1.  Strengthen your immune system

You can strengthen your immune system by taking some simple measures like:

  • Getting more sleep
  • Eating healthier
  • Staying hydrated
  • Taking more vitamins, especially Vitamin D, Zinc,
  1.  STAY HOME!!!

If you don’t need to be out of the house, then stay home. If you have to leave, practice social distancing and use your wipes to clean surfaces and your hands.  That’s the best way to limit social interaction and slow the spread of the virus.

 

If you need help:

Symptoms of Coronavirus

Coronavirus is marked by fever and cough. If you’re not well, but suffering from other symptoms, you might have a simple cold or more common flu.

Usually:                                   Sometimes:                             Rare or Never:
Fever                                       Aches and Pains                      Sneezing

Cough                                      Headaches                              Running or stuffy nose

Shortness of Breath                Diarrhea

Emergency warning signs include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pressure in the chest, or bluish lips or face. If you present these emergency signs, get medical attention immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on March 11, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Joseph Rand | Category: Agent Advisory, Client Advisory, Coronavirus | Tagged