What Realtors are doing to help curb coronavirus threat

The National Association of Realtors said open houses are being cancelled because of the coronavirus threat. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES –


Even the real estate industry is feeling the impact of the coronavirus.

The National Association of Realtors said a recent survey found that nearly one in four home sellers have changed how their home is viewed on the market because of the outbreak of COVID-19.

The changes range from stopping open houses to asking buyers to wash hands or use hand sanitizer when entering a home for sale.

In the Lehigh Valley, Justin Porembo, CEO of Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors, said agents aren’t feeling a strong impact, yet, but he emphasized the word “yet.”

“We’re not seeing anyone cancel showings or anything, but I don’t know how this will run as the area becomes more affected by the virus,” he said.

He noted that one case of COVID-19 has been detected in Northampton County.

Angela Tolosky, president of the Reading Berks Association of Realtors, said her organization is also just starting to talk about steps both the Realtors organization and its agents should take.

For example, she said the association is in talks to move its organizational meetings to virtual meetings to cut down on the number of people that need to gather in any one location.

Porembo, said his association is concerned with the looming Realtor continuing education deadline in May and is looking at ways to either offer distance training or to extend the deadline so Realtors don’t need to be concerned about attending classes during a local outbreak.

As for actual showings, Tolosky said Realtors already have the tools they need to sell houses with less personal contact.

“We already use live stream and virtual tours. I think we can increase the use of these and it might help eliminate some risk,” she said.

She said such tools can allow a potential buyer to “walk” through a property and search every room without having to go inside and she noted many homebuyers are already buying properties sight unseen by using these technologies.

She agreed that open houses probably aren’t a good idea if people are concerned about spreading the coronavirus. She said group showings should also probably be avoided. Just taking two people through a property is less of a risk than bringing a whole group of people together.

Porembo said the associations are also reminding their members to stick with CDC guidelines on handwashing and keeping common areas clean.

“We want safety for our members and consumers,” he said.

Other findings of the NAR Economic Pulse Flash Survey:

  • 37% said lower mortgage rates excited home buyers much more than the stock market correction.
  • Almost 8 out of 10 (78%) said there has been no change in buyer interest due to the coronavirus.
  • 16% said buyer interest has decreased due to coronavirus, with members in California and Washington State citing larger decreases in buyer interest – 21% and 19%, respectively.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 members (87%) said coronavirus has not affected the number of homes on the market.
  • In Washington State and California, 5% and 4% of members, respectively, reported homes were removed from the market. That figure is 3% for members nationwide.


Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at swescoe@bridgetowermedia.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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