Fall Open Houses, Keeping buyers & sellers apart


Open houses are permitted in Phase 3, but OREA recommends they only be used as a last resort.

Dear David,

What’s the deal with open houses these days? – SUNDAY SHOPPER

DEAR SUNDAY: Open houses are technically allowed as I write this column, but I feel they are more of a public safety risk than a benefit, given the current pandemic recommendations.

When COVID-19 cases were on the rise last spring, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) advised that open houses be suspended. The provincial government agreed, and banned the practice during Phases 1 and 2 of lockdown. Open houses are permitted again in Phase 3, but OREA recommends they be used only as a last resort, which makes a great deal of sense to me.

Homes rarely sell because of open houses, and today’s online tools make them largely unnecessary. I use professional photos, digital floor plans and virtual walk-throughs to showcase my listings, which give buyers a chance to get a feel for the homes without ever setting foot inside.

When an online experience sparks serious interest, buyers can schedule an in-person showing with their agent — but these showings don’t look like they used to. Appointments are often shorter, groups are capped at two visitors plus their agent, and everyone wears masks. Homeowners are asked to leave their lights on and closet doors open, and buyers are discouraged from touching anything. I have PPE available for my own listings (masks, gloves, booties and disinfectant) to minimize contact and help everyone remain as safe as possible.

PRO TIP: Like any other industry, real estate professionals need to prioritize safety over sales. As we head into fall and our case numbers rise, it’s a good time to play it safe.

Dear David,

Why are agents so reluctant to allow buyers and sellers to meet? – FRIENDLY NEIGHBOUR

DEAR FRIENDLY: Emotions run high when properties change hands, and the buyer-seller relationship can often be a bit of a minefield.

I’ve seen gracious sellers invite their buyers for a drink, and unwittingly agree to an unplanned project, or something else they later regret. Conversely, I’ve seen a single insensitive remark ruin a buyer’s impression of an otherwise ideal home. People often forget that while buyers and sellers want the same end result, they are on diametrically opposed sides and can have very different goals (buy low, sell high).

PRO TIP: As an agent, it’s my job to run interference between buyers and sellers. This may mean communicating with a little extra tact, or saying “no” in a situation that makes my clients uncomfortable. At the end of the day, I want happy buyers and happy sellers. This is sometimes best accomplished by keeping them apart. #AskDavid #Advice