The best-planned shopping expeditions rapidly unravel as social distancing creates home-tour bottlenecks.
Now that buyers are back in droves looking at houses, with all of the current COVID–19 guidelines in place it is a little like the wild, wild West out there in home shopping land.
Here are a few recent examples of what it takes to get a showing scheduled, make everyone feel safe, and interpret the various guidelines.
It is common courtesy to let the sellers or their agent know approximately what time you and your clients will be arriving to see their house, and get a confirmation that they will be ready during that time frame. This is even more important in COVID–19 times, since there are so many precautions to take before leaving for a showing.
So when you make an appointment, the first of five on a summer evening, for5:30p.m. the next day, and you get a text back that you are confirmed, imagine your surprise when you and your clients show up a respectable 5 minutes early and discover three other groups waiting their turn to enter the house.
This was awkward, to say the least.
One agent and her clients are practicing appropriate social distancing, with their masks in their hands, waving them around as they talk about the property they just saw.
Another agent is standing off quite a distance, with his mask securely covering his mouth and nose. You ask, “when is your appointment?” He replies, “It was at 5. My client is running 25 minutes late. Oh, there he is now.”
And you turn your attention to the gentleman in the late-model Range Rover who is looking for a parking space. While he waits for the mask-waving group to get in their cars and leave him an empty parking spot, you turn your attention next to the mask-wearing group standing in the driveway of the house you are all in line to see.
“When is your appointment?” you ask. “It was supposed to be at 5:15, but there is another group still in the house. We are waiting for them to leave so we can go in and take a look.”
While you watch, the Range Rover owner strolls over saying to his agent, “Sorry I’m late,” before realizing he doesn’t have his mask. So he saunters over to his car to grab it.
Then you check with your clients, try to guesstimate how late you are going to be if you keep standing in line. The5 o’clock is now 30 minutes late, the5:15is 15 minutes late and you are now at least 30 to 45 minutes late, if everyone takes all of their sweet time inside. You’re supposed to be at the next house, a 17 minute drive away, within about 25 minutes.
What to do?
While you’re doing all the mental gymnastics to figure out the timing and logistics, your clients respectfully ask if they can check out the outside of the house. Seeing no one else, masked or unmasked, in that space, you say, “Tally ho! Go for it!”
Just as your clients return, the group inside the house (who knows what time their appointment was for) finally emerges. You ask politely if your clients can just peek their heads in. They’ve seen it all online and just need to get a quick feel of the place.
Everyone nods in agreement, you take your shoes off at the door, sanitizing hand wipes in hand, they take 33 seconds to check out the garage and the kitchen, then they are ready to leave.
Not the house for them. And you make it to the next appointment sanitized and on time.