Author: Tony Clarke
21 June 2021
REBOSA (Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa) is appealing to estate agents around South Africa to reinforce their health and safety measures as the country battles its third wave of mass Covid-19 infections.
“With the vaccine rollout slowly gaining momentum, there is certainly hope for a less restrictive environment on the horizon,” says Tony Clarke, REBOSA Chairman. “Unfortunately, the third wave is growing much faster than our vaccination figures, which means now is not the time to relax our guard.”
REBOSA has published an extensive set of Covid-19 workplace readiness guidelines and templates for use by the real estate industry. According to Clarke, these guidelines have been instrumental in minimising virus transmission in the industry so far and enabling agents to sell property safely and effectively despite the challenges of the pandemic.
The recommended safety measures include encouraging agents to work from home whenever possible and adopting shift work for essential administrative staff to minimise in-office exposure. Strict in-office hygiene controls and screening should also be employed regularly, while social distancing and mask wearing should be enforced.
“It is also important for real estate agencies to review their transmission-control protocol in the event that a team member tests positive for Covid-19,” says Clarke.
To reduce risk during interactions with members of the public, REBOSA recommends agents provide consultations telephonically or via video call and use electronic documentation and digital property services like virtual viewings and showhouses whenever possible. When face-to-face interactions are essential, agents are advised to meet by appointment only and never travel to a property in the same vehicle as a client. REBOSA also recommends that agents limit the number of people present at meetings, maximise ventilation, maintain social distance and ensure that all parties sanitise their hands and wear masks.
“That goes for valuations as well as showhouses, which are best limited to pre-qualified buyers only,” says Clarke. “This reduces potential virus exposure and minimises any inconvenience for sellers – a win all round.”
While REBOSA’s recommended measures may seem restrictive, Clarke says responsible agents have no excuse not to follow them to the letter: “We now have almost a year and half of concrete evidence that abiding by strict Covid-19 protocol does not affect an agent’s ability to successfully facilitate a property transaction. Anyone saying differently is either not up to the task of adapting to the new normal, or simply does not care about the wellbeing of the people around them”.
“Buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants should make a point of confirming their agents are following best practices, and demand better from them if they are not behaving with the professionalism our industry expects.”
REBOSA’s guidelines are available online, free of charge, to all real estate professionals.
“We are fortunate to have such a comprehensive set of tried-and-tested Covid-19 protocols available,” says Clarke. “Anyone choosing not to make use of them is putting themselves, their co-workers and their clients at unacceptable risk and should be held accountable for gross professional negligence.”
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