My property will be listed for sale in a couple of weeks. I’ve worked with my salesperson to establish COVID-19 safety protocols. Are there other safety considerations that I should be addressing?
Despite Mother Nature’s seemingly slow but welcome transition to winter-like weather across Ontario, it’s snow joke that we’ll soon be walking into a winter wonderland.
In addition to following your salesperson’s advice when preparing the inside of your home for showings and establishing safety protocols to reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of COVID-19, you will also want to give special attention to areas in and around your home that could present physical safety risks to visitors – especially as we enter the winter season.
Listing a home during the winter months requires some special preparation before showing a property to potential buyers. The most common weather-related accidents during winter are slips, trips and falls due to snow and ice. You can help lessen the risk by being diligent in removing ice, snow and debris from driveways, steps and any pathways necessary to fully view the property, including sheds, decks or outdoor structures. It is also a good idea to put down some sort of environmentally friendly melting agent and traction aid. If you are unable to do this yourself, hire someone or speak with your salesperson to see if they know of a snow removal service with a reasonable fee.
In addition to the fact that clearing walkways and cautioning visitors of possible hazards being a common courtesy, it is also in your best interest from a liability perspective. It is the duty of a property owner to do what they reasonably can to prevent accidents and injuries for visitors. Speak with your salesperson and real estate lawyer to fully understand your responsibility and obligations in showing your home.
In addition to responding to weather hazards, other common culprits around the home known to present a risk for slips, trips, falls and other preventable accidents are: loose or missing handrails, uneven steps or stone walkways, poorly secured items, awkward placement of eavestrough drains, extension cords, décor items, and the like. I suggest working with your salesperson to do a walkthrough inspection of your property to identify any potential concerns before a showing.
If there are items that you are unable or unwilling to repair on the property that visitors need to exercise extra caution around like a garage or shed door with a broken spring, an uncapped drain or exposed overhead beams in a basement, speak with your salesperson about the best way to address it. They may suggest posting a sign on or near the item to be sure that visitors see the potential hazard or even better preventing access altogether to that area.
Frequent communication with your salesperson is advised regarding property showings during the pandemic as they are not recommended and, in some cases may be restricted or not permitted by law in some regions from time to time. Discuss with your real estate salesperson alternative ways to accommodate viewing requests during the pandemic.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.