On March 10, I was sent the National Association of Realtor’s® statement about Covid-19, the coronavirus that has infected people around the world.


For Sellers:

Realtors® are encouraged to discuss the risks of holding open houses, or having appointments where buyers come to your house.

… Speak openly and honestly with your seller about the pros and cons of holding an open house. Assess the risk based on your specific location, and direct your clients [sellers] to local and state health authorities for specific information about the severity of the risk in your area. You could also propose alternative marketing opportunities for your seller’s consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property. If you do hold an open house, consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable towels in bathrooms. If you decide to do any cleaning at your client’s home, be sure to check with your client in advance about any products you plan to use. After the open house, recommend that your client clean and disinfect their home, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles.

For Buyers:

The Realtors® give no advice to buyers. Instead, they give advice to agents about buyers. I am vaguely miffed that buyers are being looked at as the infected group. I am not surprised that the Realtors® don’t mention buyers as clients. (Only Exclusive Buyers Agents think of you that way!)

  1. May I ask clients or others I interact with in my real estate business if they have traveled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness?
  2. May I refuse to drive potential clients to see homes?

The answers to the questions above are, “yes, you can, Realtor®”. However, you must do the same thing for every buyer, and not decide that some people can travel in your car and others can’t.

Advice to buyers, from us:

What is happening to the market?

I am writing this on Wednesday, March 11. Things might change by the time you read this next Wednesday. Covid-19 is a new story every day.

Local – Supply of new listings are coming out today for next weekend. Open houses were scheduled. Properties went under agreement the week of March 7-14. Here in greater Boston, sellers are not scared off having that unwashed hoard we call “buyer clients” come look at their houses.

Update on Saturday: I attended an open house with a client (covering for one of my agents). About 20 people were at the open house when we were there. Some wore masks. We were asked to wear booties. There were a stack of pens, with a container for people to “discard used pens”. The tenants were home downstairs. This is how it was handled, via the MLS:

Saturday, March 14, 2020 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Comments: Open Houses will be run with respect to Social Distancing: No more than 2 buyer groups will be allowed in the vacant 2nd floor unit at any time and 1 buyer group in the first floor unit at any time. Buyers are asked to please look and not touch.

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty had set up for open houses, but cancelled them, as of Friday night.

The MLS cancelled all live classes and closed the service office for the week of March 16.

National — Demand is down more than supply. Some buyers are edgy about the economic effects of the virus. Those buyers will stay home.

Sellers who have to sell, will sell. Sellers who think that Covid-19 will be the thing that starts a recession, will sell.

What to expect — This may be good for buyers who are continuing through this uncertain time. After years of limited supply of good properties and high demand, we look forward to what might be a break in the seller’s market.

What to do?

You are in charge of your personal health decisions. There is no foolproof way to avoid contact with this virus. The current CDC information is that it can live on surfaces up to nine days, unless the surface is disinfected.

Our agents will inform you about whether they have chosen not to share car space with their clients.

Open house precautions for buyers:


Since the sellers are being advised to ask everyone to use sanitizer as they enter, you can expect to be asked. You should also wash or sanitize your hands after leaving each house.


Avoid touching the house. This is generally a good idea, but especially now. Some spots can’t be helped – like door knobs – but others can. It takes a little will power, if you habitually touch things.

4 Buyers pen

Have a pen, on us!

Bring your own pen, with a stylus. You will be asked to sign in on paper or an IPad. Why touch the thing everyone is using? Ask your agent for one of our pens!

When you sign in, please use the company name and number, and put your initials there, someplace. We’d rather you not have the seller’s agent calling you.

If you choose to wear medical gloves or a mask, that is your call. Maybe the seller’s agent will find that weird, but you should take care of yourself to your standards.

Do not wear an outdoor-type glove; it could become a virus magnet that you then put in your pocket and take home.

General health:

Please start your house tours as healthy as you can be. Don’t house hunt if you are sick. Don’t go hungry or thirsty because you are in a rush.