As of this Friday, province-wide, licensed real estate agents and unlicensed sales agents (employees of builders and real estate developers) return to operating "By Appointment Only."
Most Realtors are already operating in this fashion throughout the pandemic as has been the recommendation of our national trade association, but as of the new restrictions, we are once again given clear direction from the provincial legislature to which we must comply.
What this means for real estate is pretty simple: Realtors can no longer use OPEN HOUSES as a prospecting method.
OPEN HOUSES had fallen out of favour a few decades ago, but with the advent of 3D virtual tours they are a rarity as there is no longer a need for sellers to vacate their properties for hours on end every weekend and for their agents (or a subcontractor) to sit in the homes to get prospects to view them. Open houses have been an extremely poor way of getting someone to buy a home: a recent real estate statistic is that less than 6% of real estate purchasers bought a home because of an Open House or a For Sale sign. The question didn't stipulate whether or not they bought the subject property and the vast majority of these would be from the sign, so a good estimate would be less than 1% of sales of a particular home are the result of an Open House, Yes, they may get a few people to look at a home, but they don't sell homes! They are to attract clients to the real estate agent that is hosting the open house. Potential buyers wishing to see a home, will first view it online and then call their agent to view it in person. If they don't have an agent and are willing to go without representation, they often call the listing agent (the agent with the sign on the lawn).
From personal experience, most home owners refuse to allow open houses. And the ones that do, are now demanding a referral fee should the agent have a sale as a result of the open house.
An email from our provincial trade association, today, indicates their support of the government's position and they have given clear direction to their membership that complies with the government directive from yesterday even though there have not been any COVID-19 cases directly traced to an Open House.
So, we're back to "By Appointment Only!" As we should be.
It appears that showhomes for new home builders are remaining open for public walk ins, however, they do encourage appointments. Because they aren't licensed real estate agents and only SELL their own real estate (and don't broker deals), they claim to be covered under the retail exemption criteria and not the professional services category. Thankfully, most showhomes are permitting up to 5 people in their show home meetings which will allow you to bring your real estate agent to EVERY meeting (as you should and most of them require). Don't feel pressured by them to not have an agent with you to help represent your interests in a purchase. Your agent should be with you for EVERY meeting. They represent the seller in the sales transaction and will always work to get them a better deal than anything they offer you directly – that's where having an agent on your side to help guide you is invaluable.
#DontGoItAlone #AlwaysCallYourRealtorFirst #RepresentationMatters