Spring House Hunt

Spring House Hunt: How agents COVID-proof before and after open houses

Area realtors emphasize they are going above and beyond to keep everyone involved safe. Search the latest listings at realestate.boston.com.

Agents are often working in pairs: one to talk to prospective buyers, the other to do crowd control. Adobe stock

COVID-proofing and a crowded weekend open house at a coveted property seem mutually exclusive, yet area realtors emphasize they are going above and beyond to keep everyone involved safe.

The Greater Boston housing crunch didn’t slow down for the pandemic, and realtors are staying busy with home viewings. But now they have to build in more time and a marketing budget around cleaning and showing homes with health guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in mind.

“I was on phone calls for five hours a day talking about how we help our realtor community come out of the pandemic,’’ said Melvin A. Vieira Jr., a realtor with Re/Max Destiny who handled government affairs during the early months of the pandemic for the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.


Now president-elect of the GBAR, Vieira continues to monitor CDC health guidelines and adjusts recommendations for open houses.

Scheduled showings and designated arrival times ensure social distancing. Gloves were a must earlier in the pandemic but are no longer as much of a necessity. One precautionary measure isn’t going away anytime soon, however, no matter how many people get vaccinated.

“Even if you are COVID-vaccinated, we don’t care,’’ Vieira said. “You still have to wear your mask.’’

Meanwhile, the cleaning-product sector is booming during the pandemic, as companies look to find ways to reassure customers and employees it is safe to enter their place of business.

Hand sanitizer is a baseline expectation along with social distancing, but there are other products the average consumer may not have seen before like electrostatic sprayers. Restaurants and airlines use these to quickly disinfect a space between uses, and some Boston real estate agents are even enlisting them to help clean up after an open house.

The service team at the Overlook at St. Gabriel’s in Brighton sprays down every high-touch space like elevators and amenity areas in the residential development three times a day. The service also extends to apartments after every showing.


“This isn’t something we would have been talking about more than a year ago,’’ said Serena Ciccarello, community manager at the Overlook at St. Gabriel’s.

But most realtors appear to be using less extravagant measures. Along with adhering to CDC guidelines, agents often work in pairs at open houses so one can answer questions and the other can control crowd size and flow. Some agents require prospective buyers to call or book a slot via e-mail.

Open houses can extend into an entire weekend now to enable enough time to accommodate all potential buyers. In those cases, the sellers are encouraged to leave town or take a “staycation.’’ Listing agents can then hire teams to clean the home before and after the showing or go it alone and wipe down all high-touch areas like kitchen counters and banisters — “things that people unknowingly would probably touch,’’ Bridget Fortunate, an agent with the Elevated Cos. realty firm, said.

“There have been a couple of techniques agents are using, and this is where every agent is going to be different with preference in what works for them and what works for their seller.’’


Cameron Sperance can be reached at [email protected]. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design —at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.


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