The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and Toronto Regional Real Estate Board have announced their wish for members to stop holding open houses; this is the second time the organizations have made this plea since the pandemic began.
As reported new cases across the province continue to rise, OREA says face-to-face interactions must be limited as much as possible, while virtual tools should be used first, and to the greatest extent they can be.
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic I have been incredibly proud of the leadership shown by Ontario Realtors and Real Estate Boards across the province in protecting the health and safety of our communities and clients," OREA President Sean Morrison said Friday.
"Back in April, OREA called on the Province to stop open houses during the first wave of the pandemic. I am proud that our Association was the first to recommend a stop to all in-person business, including open houses – advice that the Province later put into law as part of the State of Emergency. As we enter this second wave, we are once again asking the Government to ban open houses Province-wide until the pandemic becomes more manageable."
Following the first pause in open houses caused by the pandemic, the practice revved up again as part of Ontario's Stage 3 reopening in July. Indoor gathering limits were increased, at that time, to 50 people.
Last month, an open house was held in Toronto, despite there being a sick tenant inside. Later, the individual tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, all potential buyers were exposed to the virus. The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) said it was notified on September 21 about the incident, and at the time, confirmed the listing was already terminated and showings had been halted.
Now, less than a month later, industry insiders are calling for a round two of suspension across the board.
"As trusted advisors, realtors should be using virtual tools first and advising clients to use virtual open houses, virtual showings or in-person safe showings to show and view properties," Morrison said.