Redfin announced Monday that it will no longer allow open houses for properties listed by its agents.
The online real estate brokerage is also limiting how many people will be allowed to tour a house at a time and enacting additional protections for both its agents and home shoppers.
“To protect the health of our customers, agents and communities, we’re cancelling open houses for all homes listed by Redfin’s brokerage, and limiting private in-person tours of all listings to two customers per tour,” Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said in a note posted Monday.
With no more open houses and limited viewing of homes, Redfin will move to a virtual showing environment, which the company says it has been working towards for many years.
“We’ve spent a decade preparing for this day,” Kelman said. “No brokerage has invested more in preparations for virtual open houses, virtual tours, virtual contracts and closings. The coronavirus has just made the future we’ve been preparing for come sooner.”
The company said home sellers shouldn’t be concerned that their properties won’t sell under these new conditions, due to additional technological measures.
“Our listing customers shouldn’t worry about cancelled open houses,” Kelman continued. “Since we publish interactive, three-dimensional scans of all homes listed by Redfin agents, buyers can still explore every nook and cranny of a home for sale without creating a public-health risk. We run a digital marketing campaign for every listing to bring plenty of folks through your home online.”
The company said it will also offer video tours of homes that are listed by other brokerages, all in an effort to limit potential exposure to the virus.
And if a buyer does want to visit a house in person, Redfin’s agents will take other steps to protect themselves and their customers.
“Redfin agents won’t ask customers to shake hands, staying six feet away from you throughout the tour,” Kelman said. “We won’t enter small bathrooms or crawl spaces.”
Kelman cautioned that the real estate market has taken a hit in the last few days, but added that he believes that things will bounce back quickly.
“Some buyers will see this as an opportunity to get the home of their dreams at a good price, with historically low mortgage rates,” Kelman said. “Others will wait until the end of the recession that has almost certainly begun.”
Regardless, the real estate industry is about to look a whole lot different than it did just a week ago.