Why is NAR issuing this guidance?
In response to concerns about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, NAR is providing this guidance to help REALTORS® respond to the coronavirus’s impact on the real estate industry. Although much of the country is in a recovery and reopening phase, the situation continues to evolve, so be sure to refer to the CDC’s website for up-to-date information about travel warnings(link is external), reopening guidance(link is external) and current information about the coronavirus’ impact in the United States(link is external). Daily updates about the coronavirus are also available from the World Health Organization(link is external).
What is Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that has infected more than millions of individuals in over 200 countries and territories, causing the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify this outbreak as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Anyone experiencing emergency signs such as difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or bluish lips or face should immediately seek medical attention.
What is the risk of exposure to coronavirus?
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems appear to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and the CDC urges citizens to monitor their health, practice social distancing, which means maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others, wear a face covering in public, and avoid crowded places and group gatherings of any size. Visit the CDC’s website(link is external) for latest updates, and recommendations.
How should brokerage staff, agents, and client reports of COVID-19 be handled?
NAR has prepared a Sample Preparedness Plan for Circumstances Relating to COVID-19 for real estate brokerages to adapt and implement in its workplace.
What preventative measures may be taken to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus?
The CDC urges individuals to take these measures to protect themselves and others:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Practice social distancing by staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
- Stay home if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or any other cold or flu-like symptom.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
How does COVID-19 impact a REALTOR®’s fair housing obligations?
REALTORS® must continue to adhere to fair housing laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help REALTORS® navigate their fair housing obligations, as well as some of the novel issues presented by COVID-19, NAR has developed a Guidance for Fair Housing Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
What precautions should brokers consider taking in their offices?
Brokers should follow all local and state “executive orders and guidance that impact the reopening of businesses. Be sure to understand whether, and under what conditions, a business may open pursuant to applicable orders. Brokers should be sure to familiarize themselves with all relevant restrictions, as well as incorporate best practices when formulating a plan to reopen physical workplaces. NAR has prepared a Workplace Re-entry Checklist to help real estate brokerages identify and consider what to address before reopening their offices. In addition to performing regular environmental cleaning with special attention paid to frequently touched surfaces, brokers should implement a mandatory “stay-home” policy for any staff member or agent exhibiting any sign of illness. Brokers may also want to consider imposing a mandatory or maximum flexibility remote work policy for employees and in some instances, may be required to do so under their state or local orders. In addition, and based on CDC recommendations, brokers should continue to take measures to limit in-person activities as much as possible, and consider holding virtual meetings as an alternative to in-person meetings and events.
Be sure to monitor updates from the CDC, as well as your state and local health authorities for additional information and guidance on holding meetings or events. For business travel considerations, review NAR’s Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTOR® Associations.
Finally, stay informed, and use your best judgment. Focus on putting policies and procedures in place to keep your employees and agents informed, safe, and to avoid business disruption. The CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers(link is external) is a helpful resource.