Conducting real estate business during COVID-19 alert level 2

The following guidance is for licensees working at alert level 2.

This page was updated on 28 May 2020.

Please meet the health requirements listed below in the interests of you and your family, your staff, buyers, vendors and all New Zealanders.

All agencies operating at alert level 2 have a responsibility to adhere to public health guidance and health and safety obligations.

In addition to this guidance, you must meet all other COVID-19 public health guidance. Please read the government guidance here and the six key steps to slow the spread of the virus here.

We have alert level 2 information for buyers and sellers at settled.govt.nz.
This page includes information about:
  • health requirements
  • contact tracing
  • risk management plans
  • listing and marketing a property
  • open homes and viewings
  • the transaction
  • auctions
  • settlement
  • other matters, including real estate offices.

Licensees must comply with these health requirements at alert level 2

We refer to these health requirements throughout this page. You must:

  • maintain 2-metre physical distancing from anyone who you don't know to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside
  • maintain 1-metre physical distancing from anyone you work with
  • not visit a property if the occupants are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
  • not visit a property if you or anyone you have been in contact with are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
  • minimise your time at a property
  • where possible, ensure that visits to properties or premises are contactless and sanitise any surfaces that are touched
  • limit the number of people at a property to ensure physical distancing can be maintained
  • keep a record of everyone you have contact with including their contact details
  • maintain the hygiene standards set out in the government guidelines
  • sanitise your hands before entering and after leaving a property.

Contact tracing

Licensees and agencies must maintain a detailed register of all interactions with people for contact tracing purposes, this includes a specific register for the office, at open homes and at auctions. The register must include names and contact details of everyone you interact with at the agency office, open homes and auctions. Make sure the register clearly states that the information is being collected and may be used for the purpose of contact tracing, and that it will be kept for at least 28 days. There is information about how to set up and manage a contact tracing register here.

There is more information about contract tracing and the NZ COVID Tracer app here on covid19.govt.nz

Refer to the additional contact tracing guidance for open homes and auctions below.

Operating safely at alert level 2

Businesses must operate safely. This means:

  • complying with government guidance about alert level 2
  • meeting appropriate public health requirements for their workplace, for example, contact tracing systems
  • meeting all other health and safety obligations, including the health requirements above.

WorkSafe has information about how to safely move to alert level 2 and what to be aware of, here.

Listing and marketing a property

Meeting clients and appraising a property

You can appraise and list a property using standard methods during alert level 2 if you adhere to the health requirements above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette, ensuring surfaces are sanitised, and recording in detail all interactions for contact tracing purposes.

You can meet your clients in person but consider discussing the listing by phone or video call to reduce personal contact.

If the property is tenanted, the usual principles apply — the tenant's approval is required before a licensee can attend but cannot be unreasonably withheld and may be given subject to reasonable conditions. See Tenancy Services for details.

If you conducted a virtual appraisal during alert level 3 or 4, you should now complete a physical appraisal, provided you can meet the above health requirements.

Signing the agency agreement

You can meet your clients in person to negotiate and sign the agency agreement if your client agrees, and if you adhere to the health requirements above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette and ensuring surfaces are sanitised. Parties should use their own pens.

Consider discussing and explaining the agency agreement by phone or video call and using electronic signing to reduce personal contact.

As usual, make sure you provide vendors with the Agency Agreement Guide and allow enough time for them to read and understand it before signing the agreement. You can email the guide to the vendor, but make sure it has been received.

Talk to your vendor early about what might need to happen if the alert level increases to level 3 or level 4.

Record the details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) of everyone involved in signing the agency agreement for contact tracing purposes.

Marketing a property

You may market a property using standard methods. Letterbox drops are allowed, but consider digital marketing instead if possible.

Professionals (for example, photographers, videographers or home stagers) who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above (including, maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette and ensuring surfaces are sanitised). They should also comply with any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. Ask the professional to sanitise any area they have touched.

If the property is tenanted, the usual principles apply the tenant's approval is required before a professional visits but cannot be unreasonably withheld and may be given subject to reasonable conditions. See Tenancy Services for details.

Record the details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) of all professionals who visit the property for contact tracing purposes.

Showing the property to colleagues

Licensees may view the property as a group (caravan) as long as the above health requirements are complied with, including maintaining 1-metre physical distancing from each other and hygiene etiquette and ensuring surfaces are sanitised. The group can have no more than 100 people.

Have hand sanitiser available.

Record the details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) of all attendees for contact tracing purposes.

 

Open homes and viewings

Open homes are allowed at alert level 2 if the above health requirements and the following conditions are met. There are no travel restrictions for potential buyers under alert level 2. These requirements apply regardless of whether a property is occupied or vacant.

  • Attendance at open homes must be managed carefully to ensure that physical distancing of 2 metres is maintained inside and outside the home and that contact tracing requirements can be met. You will need to make sure there are measures in place to allow for 2-metre physical distancing considering the layout and size of a property, for example, staggering entry to the property and managing queues.
  • If the property is tenanted, the usual principles apply — the tenant's approval is required before an open home but cannot be unreasonably withheld and may be given subject to reasonable conditions. See Tenancy Services for details.
  • Provide hand sanitiser and display COVID-19 information and hygiene notices at the open home. If possible, email COVID-19 information and hygiene notices to attendees before the open home.

Contact tracing at open homes

The details of all attendees (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) must be recorded for contact tracing purposes. Licensees may wish to manage the open home register themselves, to limit contact with pens, registers or tablets. Licensees could consider asking for an official form of identification, such as a driver licence. Consider pre-registration if possible.

There is more information about contract tracing and the NZ COVID Tracer app here on COVID19.govt.nz.

Licensees should:
  • inform attendees that the viewing should be contactless if possible
  • open cupboards and internal and external doors before the open home or private viewing to minimise surface transmission
  • ask the property's occupants to leave the premises during the open home or viewing if possible
  • ask attendees to remove their shoes before entering the house
  • refer to this guidance if you are using your car to transport clients or buyers
  • after the open home or viewing, sanitise all areas that may have been touched
  • provide digital information about the property when possible, rather than printed material
  • consider offering private viewings or virtual viewing options for interested buyers who cannot comply with the above health requirements or who are at-risk people advise at-risk buyers about the risks of attending an open home.

The transaction

Professionals and tradespeople visiting the property

Professionals and tradespeople (for example, building inspectors, valuers, engineers, builders, plumbers and electricians) may visit the property to complete due diligence or complete work to meet the conditions of sale. They must comply with the health requirements referred to above (including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette and ensuring surfaces are sanitised) as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. Ask the professional or tradesperson to sanitise any area they have touched.

Prospective buyers may visit the property with the professional or tradesperson if they comply with the above health requirements.

If the property is tenanted, the usual principles apply the tenant's approval is required before a visit but cannot be unreasonably withheld and may be given subject to reasonable conditions. See Tenancy Services for details.

Record and retain the details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) of all professionals and tradespeople who visit the property for at least 28 days for contact tracing purposes.

Selling a tenanted property

Tenancies cannot be terminated unless there are special circumstances. This currently applies until 26 June 2020, although the government may choose to extend this. Refer to Tenancy Services for the most recent information.

Tenants may move house during alert level 2.

Signing the sale and purchase agreement

You can meet both parties in person to negotiate and sign the sale and purchase agreement if you adhere to the health requirements above, including, maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette and ensuring surfaces are sanitised. Parties should use their own pens.

Consider using phone or video call and electronic signing to reduce personal contact.

As usual, make sure you provide all parties with the Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide and allow enough time for them to read and understand it before signing the agreement. You can email the guide, but make sure it has been received.

It is more important than ever that lawyers are involved in reviewing agreements before they are signed. Encourage vendors and purchasers to seek legal advice about whether to include a clause to address how settlement will occur if the alert level increases to level 3 or 4 before the settlement date.

Record the details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) of everyone involved in signing the sale and purchase agreement for contact tracing purposes.

Auctions

Auctions are allowed at alert level 2 if the above health requirements (including, maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette and ensuring surfaces are sanitised) and the following conditions are met.

  • Physical distancing of 2 metres is maintained at all times by all attendees. You will need to make sure there are measures in place to allow for physical distancing, considering the type, size and layout of the auction venue.
  • No more than 100 people in total can attend the auction regardless of whether it is inside or outside. The layout and size of the venue may mean the number of people who can practically maintain 2-metre physical distancing is less than 100.
  • If the auction is held at the property for sale, you may need to further limit the number of attendees if the layout and size of property doesn’t allow for physical distancing.
  • Record the details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) of all auction attendees for contact tracing purposes.
  • Provide hand sanitiser and display COVID-19 information and hygiene notices at the auction. If possible, email COVID-19 information and hygiene notices to attendees before the auction.
  • Ensure any surfaces that may have been touched are sanitised after the auction. When more than one auction is taking place at the same venue, allow time for cleaning between auctions.

Contact tracing at auctions

The details of all attendees (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) must be recorded and kept for at last 28 days for contact tracing purposes. Consider pre-registration if possible.

Licensees should where possible:
  • provide digital auction packs rather than printed packs
  • consider pre-registration where possible to avoid queues entering the room and to minimise interaction between parties
  • suggest remote bidding options, for example, by phone or online.

Settlement

Pre-settlement inspection

Pre-settlement inspections are allowed in person at alert level 2 if the above health requirements are met by the buyer and licensee.

Where possible, email COVID-19 information and hygiene notices to attendees beforehand.

If the property is tenanted, the usual principles apply the tenant's approval is required before a visit but cannot be unreasonably withheld and may be given subject to reasonable conditions. See for Tenancy Services details.

Record the details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) of everyone attending the inspection for contact tracing purposes.

Moving

Buyers and sellers may move house, including between regions.

Licensees should arrange for contactless delivery of sanitised keys if possible.

Other matters

Agency offices

Offices may be open to the public if you adhere to the health requirements above, including maintaining 1-metre physical distancing from those you work with and 2 metres from anyone else. Maintain hygiene etiquette and ensure surfaces are sanitised. Staff and licensees may work in the office, but working from home is encouraged.

Businesses must operate safely. This means:

  • complying with government guidance about alert level 2
  • meeting appropriate public health requirements for their workplace, for example, contact tracing systems
  • meeting all other health and safety obligations, including the health requirements above.

Offices should display COVID-19 hygiene information and provide hand sanitiser.

Maintain a register of everyone (licensees, staff and public) who enters the office. Include the time they entered and left and record their details including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for contact tracing purposes. Retain the register for at least 28 days in case it is requested for contact tracing or inspection.

Ensure your register requires staff/licensees to confirm that they have not been unwell, self-isolating or in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to entering the office.

Supervision

Supervision must continue and may be done remotely as working from home is encouraged. Refer to REA's Professional Standard on Supervision for information about supervision requirements.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Face-to-face training may take place as long as physical distancing can be maintained, and the government guidance on gatherings at level 2 is complied with. Speak to your CPD provider about options.

Disciplinary Tribunal

The Disciplinary Tribunal is operating. Check the Disciplinary Tribunal website for updated information.

Investigations and Complaints Assessment Committees (CACs)

CACs are meeting to consider cases, and investigations into complaints are still occurring.

Your real estate licence

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