By Michele McCaskill
VP of Risk Management
There has been an influx of Code of Ethics complaints being filed against Realtors® who are failing to adhere to special showing instructions listed in the MLS or in ShowingTime. The allegations, which are often backed up with video captured by Ring doorbells and other security cameras, are showing Realtors® and their clients entering homes without wearing the requested masks, gloves, or shoe coverings, or failing to use hand sanitizer located at the front door before entering a property.
This blatant disregard of the seller’s and listing agent’s instructions is not only a potential violation of the Code of Ethics, but it is also putting the reputation of the profession in jeopardy.
While restrictions are loosening up, COVID has not disappeared and one cannot be certain they are not entering a home where a current occupant is immunocompromised. Realtors® are reminded to adhere to the showing instructions of the seller and listing agent, which are provided for a reason.
Listing agents may want to consider also putting a sign on the front door to reminder entrants to wear a mask or to hand sanitize, etc., before entering.
Virtual showings are still an option and are encouraged over in-person showings, particularly for homes where the occupants may have heath conditions or are worried about contracting the virus. If you do choose to conduct in-person showings at this time, please comply with the requests of the listing agent.
In addition, please consider the following:
Space Out Appointments
Listing agents should consider spacing showing appointments far enough apart so there is ample time for the cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, lockboxes and lockbox keys, light switches, and countertops. Listing agents may need to plan for additional trips to the property in between showings for this specific purpose.
Pay Attention to Special Instructions
Showing agents should pay special attention to any instructions provided by the listing agent with regards to safety measures to be taken during a showing. Many listing agents are adding comments in Matrix and/or ShowingTime instructing showing agents and their clients to wear masks, gloves and booties during showings.
Article 3 of the Realtor® Code of Ethics (“COE”), Standard of Practice 3-3 states, “Realtors® shall not provide access to listed property on terms other than those established by the owner of the listing broker.” It may be considered a violation of the COE to not follow the listing agent/seller’s instructions. The Association has a Citation Policy, which could mean that the Realtor® found in violation under this Article 3, SOP 3-3 would be fined $300 for a first offense. The fine will be increased to $600 for a repeat offense.
Disable Overlapping Appointments
In order to ensure a limited number of people are in a home at any given time, listing agents should seriously consider disabling the feature in ShowingTime that allows for overlapping appointments by selecting “Exclusive appointment requests only” for homes (not land).
In an article recently posted on how to handling overlapping appointments, we provided quick steps for conducting a successful and professional showing when more than one agent is present at the property. While we are now encouraging agents to reduce the number of people at a property by disabling the overlapping appointment feature, for those that may still encounter listings permitting multiple appointments, in addition to following CDC guidelines and the guidance above, please also follow these tips:
(1) Politely introduce yourself to any other agent who happens to be at the property and cordially and quickly discuss options for showing the home to multiple parties (see #4 below) maintaining acceptable social distances.
(2) If the property is already occupied by another agent showing the property, announce your arrival before entering the property. Be sure you are following any instructions provided by the listing agent, such as those asking for masks, gloves and booties to be worn and door knobs, keys and other high-touch surfaces to be disinfected.
(3) Regardless of whether the door to the property is unlocked/open, if there is an electronic box on the property, use your own electronic key to access the box. EVERY AGENT AT THE PROPERTY SHOULD BE RECORDED AS HAVING BEEN THERE. No agent should allow any other agent in the property without demanding the other agent record their entry.
(4) Have a brief discussion with any other agent already in the home regarding how to handle the showing. Here are some ideas:
- One party start outside while the other swiftly concludes the showing inside. Then switch.
- Parties can choose to go in different directions inside the house: one party views the second floor while the other views the first; one party goes to the left while the other heads right; etc. Remember to practice social distancing and keep the number of people in the home to a minimum.
- One party can simply wait outside for the other to complete their showing.
- Be Courteous: Remember, everyone is on a time-table. Be respectful of other people’s time and conduct your showing with everyone’s time in mind. Do not delay and waste excess time talking about the home inside while another agent and their clients are patiently waiting outside.