Updated Realtor Guidelines to Comply with Essential Services Definition
Contra Costa, Bay East and Bridge Association of REALTORS® offer the following guidelines to comply with Orders issued March 31, 2020 by the Public Health Officers of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and the City of Berkeley:
IT IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL
Six Bay Area Counties and the City of Berkeley issued new Shelter in Place Orders on March 31, 2020, permitting limited real estate transactions. We have been working with the public health agencies of those jurisdictions to obtain clarification on the implementation of the Order. Members must continue to shelter in place during the pandemic except when performing what the Order describes as “essential services.” When completing a real estate transaction, we offer the following guidelines:
Face Mask Guidelines for Essential Service Workers
Effective April 22nd, Contra Costa County requires that all “essential services” workers, including residential real estate practitioners, wear face masks when engaged in any aspect of service to the public. Limited exceptions apply to children and when persons are alone or with members of their household. The following are guidelines for MLS users:
– Always carry a face covering with you, even when alone or driving to perform a real estate service.
– If meeting clients or other service providers at a property, bring, if available, clean and unused face coverings for yourself and others in the event they have not brought their own.
– Insist that other service providers and clients follow your example and wear a face covering at all times when viewing a property or meeting to address a matter pertaining to your transaction.
– Always drive in separate vehicles
– Carry disinfectant or similar cleaning products to spray masks before and after use
Agents and Home Buyers – How to remain in compliance while visiting a vacant home:
– Maintain social distancing
– Face masks must be worn; follow instructions above
– Advise buyers not to touch anything
– Agent should sanitize a lockbox before and after use
– Only the agent should open doors, closets, cabinets, turn on/off lights, etc.
– No one with any symptoms/has been diagnosed with a communicable disease should view a property
– Agents should only close a property after a thoroughly sanitizing all surfaces that have been touched
Authorized Service Providers – Compliance Guidelines
– Occupants must be absent from premises as specified in previous guidelines
– No one should enter the property who has any symptoms/been diagnosed with a communicable disease
– Agent should open lockbox, doors, etc.
– Maintain social distancing
– Service provider should wear masks and gloves when entering a home
– Service provider should bring sanitizing products and sanitize surfaces after inspecting each component
Whenever possible, all aspects of a transaction should be completed through virtual interaction. In-person contact is strongly discouraged.
If a virtual encounter is not feasible, entrance into a property may be made only under the following conditions: (1) ONLY if the property is vacant; (2) by appointment only; (3) with no more than TWO visitors from the same household escorted by the agent.
Home inspectors, termite inspectors, sewer inspectors, appraisers, photographers and movers may access a home whether or not the home is occupied, provided they comply with Appendix A of the County Order. They must be: (1) escorted into the home by the agent; (2) Buyers are not allowed to be present; (3) Occupants must leave the property no less than 30 minutes prior to visit and return no less than 30 minutes following essential service provider visit.
What is the official definition of “Vacant”?
According to Contra Costa and Alameda Counties and the City of Berkeley, vacant means that no one is using the property as a residence or place of abode. In other words, the property is not occupied or used as a place to live and there is no intent to use it prior to the close of the transaction.
A property is NOT vacant if: (1) the occupant(s) are gone on a trip and intend to return; or (2) it is vacant just because the occupant(s) leave the property during the viewing allowed by the Orders.
Who CANNOT access a property?
County Orders do not allow for any cosmetic services such as staging or landscaping, used to beautify and not maintain a residence. Painters not engaged in structural repair or similar services are not allowed/subject to the essential service provider exception. Upkeep of landscaping, for example, is not considered essential.
Access to properties is restricted to contractors and service personnel who provide services necessary to maintaining habitability, sanitation and operation of the residence, or address safety of residents, employees or the public (such as fire safety or tree trimming to prevent dangerous conditions (e.g., plumbers, electricians, exterminators).
Residential real estate service providers
The exception for service providers enabling residential transactions only applies to residential transactions, not commercial or industrial. Service providers in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties and the City of Berkeley include real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, photographers and movers.
Stay safe. Work safe.
When providing essential services to the public always take the safest course, including working remotely and practicing all guidelines outlined by the CDC and County health departments. If personal contact is essential, practice social distancing.
NEVER arrange an in-person meeting, visit or other contact when any of the participants have any symptoms or knowledge of possessing a communicable disease.
ALWAYS refrain from touching surfaces touched by others except when absolutely necessary and then use CDC approved methods for sanitizing surfaces. ALWAYS wash hands and follow CDC advice for safety.
Consult with your Broker
Before conducting any business transactions, agents must first consult with their brokers and adhere to specific rules and guidelines established by their respective corporations/firms and the requirements set out in County/City orders. Members should seek individual counsel for legal and insurance matters.
All essential service providers must comply with Appendix A.
Check for updates
CCAR and other local Associations are working with government and health agencies to keep you informed and provide updates on orders and their interpretations. Important note: Government agencies may be slow to publish new and/or changing rules. Continue to check for ongoing updates.
CCAR is working constantly with county officials and health authorities to clarify details and essential business protocols to educate members about the requirements necessary to navigate safe business practices as dictated by respective authorities.
COVID-19 orders, directives and interpretations are subject to change at any time. We strive to provide current and accurate information we receive from third-party sources but cannot guarantee the accuracy and current status of any information provided. We strongly recommend viewing official government agency websites to obtain confirmation and the most current information.