On July 2, the Departments of Public Health released new guidance on COVID-19, including some relating to real estate. While there are some changes indicated, they do not significantly change current practices.

“Open Houses” on a walk-in basis are still prohibited. All showings still require either an appointment or a digital sign-in process prior to entry including completing a PEAD (“Property Entry Advisory & Declaration”) form.

Any such showings still must follow these rules:

1. Have protective equipment made available like masks and hand sanitizer.

2. Thoroughly clean all shown properties and disinfect commonly used areas such as doors and doorknobs, cabinet handles, switches, etc.

3. Control the number of people in the house by only allowing in one buying party at a time (which could be more than one person). The listing agent and buyer’s agent may also be on the property at the same time.

4. All showings require appointments or digital sign-ins.

Updated C.A.R guidelines state that advertisements using the term “Open House” alone would likely appear to be deceptive as it implies a walk-in basis without the mandatory appointments/digital sign-in protocols that are not typical for an “Open House.” Although it is recommended that no “Open House” signs be used, if they are, they must also include information on the sign or a sign rider indicating that appointments or digital sign-in are required before entry. Of course, the regular protocols of advance digital completion of PEAD forms before entering, social distancing, limitations on persons going through the house at one time, cleaning and disinfecting between each showing, etc. apply. However, any type of traditional open houses -- spontaneous walk-up with no digital sign-in or appointment or adherence to all protocols—would threaten the policy allowing licensees to show property and, worse, threaten the health of the seller and those visiting potentially causing a super-spreader event.

Realtors® using “Open House” signs or advertisements without the riders about advance appointments or digital sign-in may be subject to ethics discipline for violating the “true picture” test under Article 12 as the common understanding of an “Open House” by the public and the industry does not include advance digital sign-ins or appointments, along with the other protocols that would delay a spontaneous showing.

Some cities or counties may be more restrictive than State Guidance orders. Some local rules prohibit any type of “Open House” or restrict the number of persons who can view the property to two at one time. The more restrictive local rules will supersede the statewide industry guidance and must be followed. Of course, in those jurisdictions prohibiting “Open Houses” altogether, “Open Hous