Conducting real estate business during COVID-19 alert level 3

The following guidance is for licensees working at alert level 3. All real estate work should occur remotely wherever possible.

This page was updated on 28 August 2020. More information will be added to this page as soon as it’s available.

The primary objective of your actions when working at alert level 3 is to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Please meet the health requirements listed below in the interests of you and your staff, buyers, vendors and all New Zealanders.

All businesses operating at alert level 3 have a responsibility to adhere to public health guidance and health and safety obligations.

In addition to this guidance, which is specific to conducting real estate business at alert level 3, you must meet all other COVID-19 public health guidance.

Read the government alert level 3 guidance on the COVID-19 website.

Read the key steps to stay healthy on the COVID-19 website.

From 11.59am on Wednesday 19 August, you are also required to display a NZ COVID Tracer app QR code at your office and at properties where you are holding private viewings. Find information about creating your own QR code posters on the Ministry of Health website.

Information about conducting real estate business at alert level 2 is here.

You can find information for consumers about buying and selling property during alert level 3 on settled.govt.nz.

This page includes information about:
  • operating safely
  • health requirements
  • listing and marketing a property
  • open homes and viewings
  • the transaction
  • settlement
  • other matters.

Operating safely

All businesses operating under alert level 3 must continue to think about how to work to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. WorkSafe has produced guidance on what you need to think about to continue to operate safely during alert level 3.

Read more about operating safely on the WorkSafe website.

Licensees must comply with these health requirements at alert level 3

We refer to these requirements throughout this page. You must:

  • maintain 2-metre physical distancing
  • not visit a property if the occupants are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
  • not visit a property if you or anyone you have been in contact with are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
  • minimise your time at a property
  • maintain physical distancing by minimising personal contact with all people outside your extended bubble including colleagues, clients and potential buyers
  • limit the number of people at the property – we recommend no more than two people at any one time, except for private viewings (see below)
  • keep a record of everyone you have contact with including their contact details.

It is highly recommended that you, your vendors, and any potential buyers wear face coverings when you are out and about. You can find guidance about face coverings on the COVID-19 website.

Listing and marketing a property

Meeting clients and appraising a property

Where possible, appraise the property using virtual methods instead of visiting the property.

If you conduct a virtual appraisal at alert level 3, you should conduct a physical appraisal at alert level 2.

In the case of a virtual appraisal, we recommend that the licensee ensures every party knows that the licensee has not physically inspected the property. The licensee should get a comprehensive and full disclosure from their vendor client by asking detailed and specific questions about the condition of the property. The licensee needs to be satisfied that no consumer is adversely affected by the lack of physical inspection.

If a virtual appraisal isn’t possible, licensees who can comply with the above health requirements may visit a property to conduct an appraisal if the vendor and any tenants agree. All discussions about marketing plans, disclosures and how the listing will progress must be by phone or video call to minimise personal contact.

Signing the agency agreement

All discussions regarding the agency agreement must be done remotely.

As usual, make sure you provide vendors with the Agency Agreement Guide and allow enough time for them to read and understand it before signing the agreement. You can email the guide to the vendor, but make sure it has been received.

Contracts should be signed electronically. You can use contactless pickup or delivery for the contract if absolutely necessary.

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual. Allow extra time for your client to consult about the agency agreement.

AML

Check the Department of Internal Affairs guidance for alert level 3 here.

Marketing a property

Professionals (for example, photographers, videographers or home stagers) who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

We recommend licensees provide the professional with access to the property but wait outside or in one room in the house while the professional works. We recommend that the property’s occupants are not present when the professional visits.

Another option is for vendors to take their own photos and videos of the property.

Licensees should not use letterbox drops to market a property.

Showing the property to colleagues

Visiting the property as a group (caravan) isn’t allowed. You can use video and photos to share new listings with your colleagues.

Open homes and viewings

Open homes are not allowed at alert level 3.

Prospective buyers should view a property online (for example, by video) wherever possible. If this isn’t possible or practical, private viewings are allowed at alert level 3 under the following conditions.

Preparing for the viewing
  • Create a NZ COVID Tracer app QR code for people to use when viewing a property. You must have one unique code for each property. Find information about creating your own QR code posters on the Ministry of Health website.
  • Licensees should try to ensure that only buyers who are serious about making an offer or are in the process of making an offer are given a private viewing.
  • There should be no more than two private viewings per day – allow time to clean all surfaces between viewings.
  • Prospective buyers cannot travel between regions for a private viewing.
  • There should be no more than two people who must be from the same extended bubble plus the licensee at the viewing, and physical distancing should be maintained.
  • The licensee should email COVID-19 safety information to prospective buyers before the viewing. It is the licensee’s responsibility to ask the property occupants and prospective buyers if anyone is unwell or has been in contact with a COVID-19 case.
  • It is highly recommended that everyone attending a viewing wear a face covering.
  • The vendor and property occupants (including tenants) must agree to the private viewing and must not be at the property during the viewing.
  • Prospective buyers must pre-register for the private viewing. They must supply full contact details for possible COVID-19 contact tracing.
  • People at high risk of COVID-19 (for example, older people or those with existing medical conditions), should not attend a private viewing, and private viewings should not take place in homes where any occupant is at high risk. You can find information about people who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 on the Ministry of Health website.
During the viewing
  • Display your NZ COVID Tracer app QR code in a prominent place next to every entrance for attendees to scan.
  • Licensees should open all internal doors before the viewing to minimise surface contact. Only the licensee is to touch doors or surfaces in the home.
  • All parties must comply with the health requirements listed above and at covid19.govt.nz.
  • Licensees should have hand sanitiser available.
  • Prospective buyers should wait in their car until the licensee is ready for the private viewing and should remove their shoes at the door.
  • Prospective buyers must not touch any surfaces in the home. For example, if a prospective buyer wants to check the hot water pressure, the licensee must turn on the tap.
After the viewing
  • The licensee must clean all surfaces that the licensee (or anyone else) comes into contact with during the viewing. You can find guidance about cleaning surfaces on the COVID-19 website

The transaction

Professionals visiting the property

Vendors can engage professionals like property inspectors, valuers and engineers to carry out inspections at the property, if this work cannot be done remotely. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

A buyer can engage a professional to carry out an inspection if that inspection is a condition of an offer that has been accepted by the vendor. The exception is if the property is being sold by auction.

If the property is being sold by auction buyers can commission a property inspection report before the auction. A property inspector may visit the property if the seller and the property’s occupants agree. They will contact you to arrange a time for the property inspector to visit.

Professionals who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role.

Purchasers should not attend the property with the professional. We recommend they stay in contact by phone or video call if they wish to.

We recommend that, if licensees need to give the professional access to the property, they wait outside or in one room in the house while the professional works.

Ensure you have the contact details of any professional who visits the property for possible contact tracing.

Ask the professional to wear a face covering and to sanitise areas they touch.

Work to complete the conditions of sale

Tradespersons (for example, builders, plumbers and electricians) who visit the property must comply with the health requirements referred to above as well as any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required. Guidance for the construction sector is available on the Building Performance website.

We recommend that, if licensees need to give the tradesperson access to the property, they wait outside or in one room in the house while the tradesperson works.

Ensure you have the contact details of any tradesperson who visits the property for possible contact tracing.

Ask the tradesperson to wear a face covering and to sanitise areas they touch.

Auctions

Auctions can only take place by phone or online bidding.

Professionals may visit a property to do an inspection if the property is being sold by auction. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

Where the vendor provides a property inspection report, the licensee will need to explain to any potential buyers the risks of relying on a report commissioned by the vendor.

Signing the sale and purchase agreement

All discussions about the sale and purchase agreement or offers received must take place remotely, for example by phone or video call.

Maintain physical distancing when you follow your in-house sales processes (for example, for multi-offers) by using phone or video calls.

As usual, make sure you provide all parties with the Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide and allow enough time for them to read and understand it before signing the agreement. You can email the guide, but make sure it has been received.

Contracts should be signed electronically. You can use contactless pickup or delivery for the contract if absolutely necessary.

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual – allow extra time for consultation about the sale and purchase agreement.

Pre-settlement inspection

A pre-settlement inspection can take place. Buyers must meet all health requirements when visiting the property. You should observe the conditions listed for private viewings above, as far as they apply. If the property is tenanted, the tenant's approval is required.

If a buyer is in an alert level 1 or an alert level 2 region, they may travel into a region at alert level 3 to conduct a pre-settlement inspection as long as they enter the region with the purpose of moving into their new property. Buyers should ensure that they do not return to a region at a lower alert level after conducting the pre-settlement inspection and must stay in their new region while waiting for settlement day.

If a buyer is in an alert level 3 region, they may travel into an alert level 1 or alert level 2 region to conduct a pre-settlement inspection, as long as they enter the region with the purpose of moving into their new property. They should ensure they do not return to a region at alert level 3 while waiting for settlement day.

Communication with your client and buyers

All conversations with clients and potential buyers should be by phone, email or video call. Remember to follow up verbal conversations in writing.

Settlement

Moving within a region at alert level 3

House movers can work at alert level 3, so buyers and sellers can move house if they follow the government guidance on the COVID-19 website. Moves can occur within a region that is at alert level 3.

Licensees should arrange for exchange of sanitised keys with no physical contact between any party.

Moving between regions at different alert levels

During alert level 3, travel into, out of, and through Auckland is heavily restricted. The Police are enforcing this at checkpoints around Auckland.

People can travel into, out of, and through Auckland if they are:

  • returning to their primary home
  • relocating a home or business.

People travelling for these reasons do not require an exemption from the Ministry of Health, but should bring documents to support their reason for travel, if possible.

New Zealand is in the middle of a unique situation where the health of all New Zealanders has to be the priority. It is likely to be stressful for all parties involved in a transaction, so be kind and consider the needs of others when you’re communicating about a transaction.

Conveyancing

Land Information New Zealand’s electronic land register Landonline is operating.

Legal advice

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual, so allow extra time.

Other matters

Agency offices

REA expects that most, if not all, licensees will be able to work primarily from home.

Real estate offices may only open if:

  • workers cannot work from home
  • workplaces are operating safely
  • customers and clients are not allowed on premises
  • businesses can trade without physical contact with customers.

Agencies must create a NZ COVID Tracer app QR code for each agency office and display it in a prominent place next to every entrance for people to scan. Find information about creating your own QR code posters on the Ministry of Health website.

Supervision

Supervision must continue and must be conducted remotely.

Supervisors should ensure the listing agent for each property is appropriately managing viewings according to the guidelines set out above.

Refer to REA’s Professional Standard on Supervision for information about supervision requirements.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Face-to-face training is not allowed, but many training providers offer online learning options or virtual face-to-face sessions to allow you to complete CPD during alert level 3.

Disciplinary Tribunal

The 20-working day timeframe for appeals and reviews still applies. You can find more information on the Disciplinary Tribunal’s website.

Investigations and Complaints Assessment Committees (CACs)

CACs are meeting remotely to consider cases, and investigations into complaints are still occurring.

More information 

For information about conducting real estate business at different alert levels click here.

For guidance on alert levels on the COVID-19 website:

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