Important Message About Safety At Showings / Vaccinations

Your seller wants you, their listing agent, to only allow vaccinated individuals inside their property. STOP. It isn’t until you start to dig into the details that you realize this request can be VERY problematic.  Legal counsel will tell you that Realtors should not become the vaccination police and if an agent steps into that role, can create huge liability for their brokerage and their client. Here are some tips on handling such a request:

First off, the seller is asking because they are concerned about safety. Talk to your seller about *safety precautions* rather than vaccination statuses. Think back to when Covid first began and the strict procedures that we put in place to protect both the property and the people inside of them… Your seller might feel much more comfortable with those extensive safety measures where you require masks for everybody entering the interior of a property, hand sanitation before entry, protocols for a no-touch or gloved showings, bootie on or shoes off before entry, open windows, wipe down of door knobs after, etc…  You are already comfortable with strong safety measures and know how to provide proper safety notice (in the MLS, at the door or at entry, to the cooperating broker when setting the appointment) of the precautions you will enforce for ALL visitors to a specific property. Do it! It is far more effective for a listing agent to work with their seller to develop acceptable safety precautions that will be mandated for EVERYBODY entering the property.

If you didn’t heed the warning above, and if your brokerage is considering asking about vaccination status, (and it’s the broker’s decision on how to proceed if you receive such a request), consider these gnarly questions:  Are you physically asking to see vaccination cards? Are your agents qualified to judge what is a legitimate card? If buyers or other agents don’t have their card handy are you going to deny entrance? Are you going to prohibit people who are unable to obtain a vaccination from viewing the home? If people state they are not vaccinated or can’t be vaccinated,  you can NEVER ask about underlying health conditions, so how can you know that you’re not discriminating against someone with a medical disability? What if an important part of the buying decision is based on input from their 12 year old child who is unable to get vaccinated? You can’t discriminate against someone because of age or family status.  Can you see how starting this line of questioning is hugely problematic?!  If you agree to become the vaccination police for a property, (which is absolutely NOT recommended by legal counsel), could you then be liable if you let somebody into the home that did not have the vaccination? And how are you documenting your verification since you should also NEVER store the vaccination records of another party. Ultimately, are you and your seller inadvertently discriminating against a protected class?  Yikes to all of it.

You can begin to see how a simple request by a worried seller can place an incredible amount of liability and uncertainty onto the back of the listing agent, the brokerage and the seller. This goes way beyond your area of expertise and the scope of your job. And ultimately it does not provide the seller any greater protection against the transmission of Covid. Safe showing measures can though!

You want to keep your clients safe. Talk to your sellers about safety and exactly what you will do to create the safest environment for them and their home. And talk to the other Realtors about working together to keep the process safe for all. I know some Realtors have personal concerns for their own health and that of their family and it is important that we all come together as a community to take care of each other as best we can, by using the safest measures we can. You are living in unprecedented times when part of your job is to prevent the transmission of disease. Use all of the tools we have developed over the past year  (masks, sanitizer, no touch, gloves, booties, open windows, limited viewings, etc) to keep up that good work. And bring enough for PPE for all and show you have amazing care and consideration!