On June 22nd, phase two of NYC’s COVID reopening plan commenced. After a 15-week hiatus during the PAUSE period, real estate agents were once again allowed to have face-to-face showings with clients. The Real Estate Board of New York swiftly put out guidelines to help keep all parties safe, with guidance on everything from open houses to closings to usage of amenity spaces in buildings.

Prior to reopening, the Whitman Team stocked up on gloves, masks, sanitizers, and wipes. We were ready to rock once the floodgates were open. We weren’t sure what the real estate market would look like on the other side of lockdown, but it quickly became clear there was a major case of pent up demand for our buyers, sellers, landlords, and renters.

Thinking of diving back into your real estate goals? Here is a recap of what changes you can expect when transacting in today’s NYC COVID market:

Masks and gloves are the name of the game. As a buyer or tenant, you’re entering the home of another New Yorker who is as equally exposed to the elements as you are. As a seller or landlord, strangers are traipsing through your apartment, and you should feel confident that they’re being properly advised to protect themselves and your home. Mask up and protect thyself.

Six feet apart. During a showing, all parties are recommended to stay six feet apart which can pose a challenge in very small NYC apartments. Often, clients are sent into the unit with only the listing agent, leaving their own broker at the door.

COVID Disclosure Forms. Plural. Not just one, but two forms. Before attending a showing, your agent will have you fill out two disclosures forms. First, a Health Questionnaire confirming you have not tested positive for COVID or have not knowingly been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID within the past 14 days, you have no current symptoms of COVID, and you have not been in contact with someone who has recently traveled to a highly affected state or country. Second, a Limited Liability form which discloses that you are putting yourself at risk of getting coronavirus by attending face-to-face showings, and if you refuse to sign, your appointment may be cancelled.

Limited touching. Prospective buyers and tenants are asked only to touch things in a home when it’s essential (ie hand railings). Listing agents are expected to disinfect high touch surfaces like doorknobs and countertops (we know you want to rub the kitchen counters, but please don’t).

Open Air. It’s encouraged to have the windows open during showings to keep the air from getting stagnant and ridden with germs.

3D/virtual tours and video tours are now “the norm.” Before COVID, if you were remotely interested in a property after previewing the listing photos, you would have to trek out to see the unit with your own eyes. Now, it’s nearly unheard of for a broker to not have a 3D tour published or a video tour on hand for you when you inquire.

Temperature checks with the doorman. Building managers and co-op and condo boards have their own set of precautions. Some of the more strict buildings even have temperature check stations at the doorman’s post.

Open Houses are a thing of the past. At least for now, as we once knew them. Any “Open House” you see online is strictly by appointment only to keep down crowding in small spaces. We’re seeing a few virtual open houses as well, where the broker holds an open house at a designated time and sets appointments virtually with interested buyers or renters.

Your real estate agent is your personal shopper. For cautious clients, buyers are having their agents preview and vet out properties for them in advance, via video tours or facetiming during a showing. If the buyer is very interested, they will schedule an in-person showing.

Electronic transfers and e-signatures are on the rise. The NYC real estate business is known for being archaic when it comes to making payments via certified checks and requiring wet signatures on paperwork. With virtual showings and closings strongly recommended, much of the industry is getting used to wire transfers and signing documents electronically in order to minimize touch.