Conducting real estate business during COVID-19 alert level 3

The following guidance is for licensees working at alert level 3. All real estate work should still occur remotely wherever possible.

This page was updated on 24 April 2020.

The primary objective of your actions when working at alert level 3 is to eliminate the spread of COVID-19. Please meet the health requirements listed below in the interests of you and your staff, buyers, vendors and all New Zealanders.

All businesses operating at alert level 3 have a responsibility to ensure clear expectations 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.

Information about conducting real estate business at alert level 4 is here.

You can find information for consumers about buying and selling property during alert level 3 on settled.govt.nz.

This page includes information about:
  • risk management plans
  • health requirements
  • listing and marketing a property
  • the transaction
  • settlement
  • other matters.

Risk management plans

All businesses operating under alert level 3 must have a formal plan to manage COVID-related risks. WorkSafe has produced guidance and a template for these plans. Businesses do not have to present this plan in order to operate but will be expected to produce it when requested by WorkSafe, who will be conducting checks across New Zealand and all sectors. Read more.

Licensees must comply with these health requirements at alert level 3

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

  • continue to maintain 2-metre physical distancing
  • 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
  • maintain physical distancing by minimising personal contact with all people outside your extended bubble including colleagues, clients and potential buyers
  • limit the number of people at the property – we recommend no more than two people at any one time, except for private viewings (see below).
  • keep a record of everyone you have contact with including their contact details.

Listing and marketing a property

Meeting clients and appraising a property

Where possible, appraise the property using virtual methods instead of visiting the property.

If you conduct a virtual appraisal at alert level 3, you should conduct a physical appraisal at alert level 2.

In the case of a virtual appraisal, we recommend that the licensee ensures every party knows that the licensee has not physically inspected the property. The licensee should get a comprehensive and full disclosure from their vendor client by asking detailed and specific questions about the condition of the property. The licensee needs to be satisfied that no consumer is adversely affected by the lack of physical inspection.

If a virtual appraisal isn’t possible, licensees who can comply with the above health requirements may visit a property to conduct an appraisal if the vendor and any tenants agree. All discussions about marketing plans, disclosures and how the listing will progress must be by phone or video call to minimise personal contact.

Signing the agency agreement

All discussions regarding the agency agreement must be done remotely.

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.

Contracts must be signed electronically. You can use contactless pickup or delivery for the contract if absolutely necessary.

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual. Allow extra time for your client to consult about the agency agreement.

AML

Check the Department of Internal Affairs guidance for alert level 3 here.

Marketing a property

Professionals (for example, photographers, videographers or home stagers) who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

We recommend licensees provide the professional with access to the property but wait outside or in one room in the house while the professional works. We recommend that the property’s occupants are not present when the professional visits.

Another option is for vendors to take their own photos and videos of the property.

Licensees should not use letterbox drops to market a property.

Showing the property to colleagues

Visiting the property as a group (caravan) isn’t allowed. You can use video and photos to share new listings with your colleagues.

Open homes and viewings

Open homes are not allowed at alert level 3.

Prospective buyers should view a property online (for example, by video) wherever possible. If this isn’t possible or practical, private viewings are allowed at alert level 3 under the following conditions.

Preparing for the viewing
  • Licensees should try to ensure that only buyers who are serious about making an offer or are in the process of making an offer are given a private viewing.
  • There should be no more than two private viewings per day – allow time to clean all surfaces between viewings.
  • Prospective buyers cannot travel between regions for a private viewing.
  • There should be no more than two people who must be from the same extended bubble plus the licensee at the viewing, and physical distancing should be maintained.
  • The licensee should email COVID-19 safety information to prospective buyers before the viewing. It is the licensee’s responsibility to ask the property occupants and prospective buyers if anyone is unwell or has been in contact with a COVID-19 case.
  • The vendor and property occupants (including tenants) must agree to the private viewing and must not be at the property during the viewing.
  • Prospective buyers must pre-register for the private viewing. They must supply full contact details for possible COVID-19 contact tracing.
  • People at high risk of COVID-19 (for example people over 70), should not attend a private viewing, and private viewings should not take place in homes where any occupant is at high-risk.
During the viewing
  • Licensees should open all internal doors before the viewing to minimise surface contact. Only the licensee is to touch doors or surfaces in the home.
  • All parties must comply with the health requirements listed above and at covid19.govt.nz.
  • Licensees should have hand sanitiser available.
  • Prospective buyers should wait in their car until the licensee is ready for the private viewing and should remove their shoes at the door.
  • Prospective buyers must not touch any surfaces in the home. For example, if a prospective buyer wants to check the hot water pressure, the licensee must turn on the tap.
After the viewing
  • The licensee must clean all surfaces that the licensee (or anyone else) comes into contact with during the viewing. The covid19.govt.nz website has information about cleaning surfaces here.

The transaction

Professionals visiting the property

Professionals (for example, building inspectors, valuers and engineers) can visit a property to conduct activities that cannot be carried out remotely. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

Professionals may only visit a property to do an inspection if that inspection is a condition of an offer that has been accepted by the vendor.

Professionals who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. Guidance for the construction sector is here.

Purchasers should not attend the property with the professional. We recommend they stay in contact by phone or video call if they wish to.

We recommend that, if licensees need to give the professional access to the property, they wait outside or in one room in the house while the professional works.

Ensure you have the contact details of any professional who visits the property for possible contact tracing.

Ask the professional to sanitise areas they touch.

Work to complete the conditions of sale

Tradespersons (for example, builders, plumbers and electricians) who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

Tradespersons who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. Guidance for the construction sector is here.

We recommend that, if licensees need to give the tradesperson access to the property, they wait outside or in one room in the house while the tradesperson works.

Ensure you have the contact details of any tradesperson who visits the property for possible contact tracing.

Ask the tradesperson to sanitise areas they touch.

Selling a tenanted property

Tenancies cannot be terminated unless there are special circumstances. This applies for three months from 26 March, although the government may choose to extend this. Refer to Tenancy Services for the most recent information.

Tenants may move house during alert level 3.

Auctions

Auctions can only take place by phone or online bidding.

Professionals may only visit a property to do an inspection if that inspection is a condition of an offer that has been accepted by the vendor. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

Where the terms of an auction say only unconditional bids may be accepted, we recommend the licensee asks the vendor to provide professional reports for the property (for example, building inspection reports).

Where the vendor provides professional reports, the licensee will need to explain to any potential buyers the risks of relying on a report commissioned by the vendor.

Signing the sale and purchase agreement

All discussions about the sale and purchase agreement or offers received must take place by phone or video call.

Maintain physical distancing when you follow your in-house sales processes (for example, for multi-offers) by using phone or video calls.

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.

Contracts must be signed electronically. You can use contactless pickup or delivery for the contract if absolutely necessary.

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual – allow extra time for consultation about the sale and purchase agreement.

Pre-settlement inspection

A pre-settlement inspection can take place. Buyers must meet all health requirements when visiting the property. You should observe the conditions listed for private viewings above, as far as they apply. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

Communication with your client and buyers

All conversations with clients and potential buyers should be by phone, email or video call. Remember to follow up verbal conversations in writing.

Settlement

Moving

House movers can work at alert level 3, so buyers and sellers can move house if they follow government guidance. Moves can occur between regions at level 3.

Moving companies may have limited availability, especially at 10 working days after the beginning of alert level 3. We recommend a later settlement date where possible.

Licensees should arrange for exchange of sanitised keys with no physical contact between any party.

Conveyancing

Land Information New Zealand’s electronic land register Landonline is operating.

Legal advice

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual, so allow extra time.

Other matters

Agency offices

REA expects that most, if not all, licensees will be able to work primarily from home.

Real estate offices may only open if:

  • workers cannot work from home
  • workplaces are operating safely
  • customers and clients are not allowed on premises
  • businesses can trade without physical contact with customers.

Supervision

Supervision must continue and must be conducted remotely.

Supervisors should ensure the listing agent for each property is appropriately managing viewings according to the guidelines set out above.

Refer to REA’s Professional Standard on Supervision for information about supervision requirements.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Face-to-face training is not allowed, but many training providers offer online learning options or virtual face-to-face sessions to allow you to complete CPD during alert level 3.

Disciplinary Tribunal

The Disciplinary Tribunal is operating electronically.

The 20-working day timeframe for appeals and reviews still applies. You can find more information on the Disciplinary Tribunal’s website here.

Investigations and Complaints Assessment Committees (CACs)

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

Your real estate licence

Click here to read about your options for licence renewal or to suspend your licence.

More information 

Alert level tables on covid19.govt.nz:

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