Residential Brokers Adapt as Showings Resume Fewer Handshakes, More Hand Sanitizer

Bloomberg Quint is one among an array of outlets reporting on the adjustments and adaptations real estate agents are using to conduct residential transactions in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. With in-person apartment showings off-limits for several months during the lockdown, many in the industry transitioned to virtual showings, giving potential buyers the ability to see the space and features of a unit without physically visiting it. Now that New York is progressing beyond its first phase of reopening, brokers are beginning to return to their tried-and-true method of showing apartments in person, “just with fewer handshakes, more sanitizer, masks, temperature checks, and even trips up the service elevator,” as Bloomberg tells it.  

Waivers & Temp Checks

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Additional precautionary measures vary. At one Park Avenue building cited by Bloomberg, brokers have to sign health forms and submit to temperature checks before entering through the back elevator. They’re required to wear protective booties on their shoes and are forbidden from touching anything once inside the apartment, according to Michele Kleier, president of Kleier Residential. Some buildings in the city are not even letting brokers in; others are limiting the number of showings per day. Bloomberg reports that Jacky Teplitzky and Barak Dunayer, a team of brokers at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, tried to show a buyer a co-op near Lincoln Center, but the building turned them away.

Although Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan has coincided with the start of summer, which traditionally is a slow time in residential real estate in the state, some New York brokers have reported that the state’s and city’s relaxing of COVID-19-related restrictions has generated a renewed vigor in the market. With six showings on the first day of Phase 2 (June 22), Ignacio Cesped, an agent at the brokerage Elegran, told Bloomberg, “I’ve never seen people so excited. Everybody was super happy being able to see things, even if they don’t like it.” 

Steven James, President and CEO of Douglas Elliman New York City, tells The Cooperator, “While we began showing properties only this past Monday after a three month pause from showing, we are starting to see far more interest from consumers and clearly setting up appointments to show and to submit offers to sellers. We are encouraged from what we are seeing in the marketplace.”

Serious Applicants Only

Bloomberg points out that the only people allowed at showings will be serious buyers—“no entourage of friends, children, and decorators tagging along to share their input,” as the outlet attributes to Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern, executive vice president at Kleier Residential. While buyers can now see an apartment, the amenities in most buildings, like gyms and pools, are still closed and therefore cannot be shown to prospective buyers. 

Brokers must abide by state regulations, Bloomberg indicates, including required cleanings between tours. They are also subject to guidelines established by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), which require agents for sellers to prepare hand sanitizer or soap for all showings. Additionally, the outlet reports that buyers cannot touch anything while viewing a listing, hand shakes are forbidden, and masks are a must. 

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