Island real estate agents ordered to end open houses, most viewings
'We don't want to [see] someone spreading COVID-19 just because they felt like they needed to see a house'
The P.E.I. Real Estate Association has ordered its agents to stop all open houses and most in-person meetings and showings until the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Association president Greg Lipton sent a message to Island real estate agents Monday, telling them showings should only be scheduled at homes with no one living in them.
Lipton says while most realtors were already following that protocol, he is aware of some who have carried on with showings despite orders from public health officials to stay home and stay apart.
"We don't want to [see] someone spreading COVID-19 just because they felt like they needed to see a house," said Lipton.
"It's really a matter of 'how many risks do you want to take with the virus?'"
Essential service with conditions
According to Lipton, real estate agents were just deemed an essential service by the P.E.I. government this week.
He said while that means they are permitted to continue listing and selling homes and finalizing sales already in the works, they still have to respect public health orders in the process.
"We are an essential service. And that's for people that could end up homeless. They've already sold their home, and they need to buy another home," he said.
"But we still can't allow people to go into occupied homes."
Lipton said anyone wanting to list their home can take photos, videos and measurements themselves, which their realtor can then post online.
He said those insistent on buying a home they've only viewed virtually will be permitted to see it in-person before the sale is finalized.
"There's a condition that you get to see it once all the other conditions are removed and it's time for closing," said Lipton.
'Tough for everyone'
But Lipton, an agent himself, said with the exception of clients closing on sales that were initiated before the pandemic, most real estate business has dried up on the Island.
He said with the limitations on house showings, and many Canadians facing financial uncertainty right now, it's no surprise.
"I think that [real estate agents] should be applying for any kind of government relief money, because we don't know how long this is going to last," said Lipton.
"We'll probably end up seeing some of our membership get out of the business," he said. "It's tough for everyone right now."
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.
How can I protect myself?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
Practise physical distancing.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.
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