No rush to resume open houses: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver chair Colette Gerber

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      The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is maintaining its advice for realtors to avoid conducting open houses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Board chair Colette Gerber said that the REBGV doesn’t want to see realtors and clients put in harm’s way with in-person home showings.

      "We’re not going to rush into saying, ‘Yes, go ahead with open houses’,” Gerber told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Thursday (May 14). 

      “We want to be very cautious," she continued.

      Gerber noted that “business can continue” with the use of digital technology, like videos and livestreaming.

      If there’s a need for an in-person interaction, realtors are to strictly observe physical distancing requirements and other safety procedures, according to Gerber, who assumed the post of REBGV chair on May 8 this year.

      “It’s really going to depend on the information we get from the various authorities as the province rolls out its reopening plan,” Gerber said when asked when the REBGV is likely to reconsider its advice regarding open houses.

      The board on March 19, 2020 recommended to its 14,000 members to avoid in-person home showings to stem the spread of COVID-19.

      This was followed the next day with a statement from the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA), supporting the position of the REBGV and other real estate boards in the province.

      Home sales have dropped as sellers and buyers kept to the sidelines because of the pandemic.

      In April, transactions plunged 50 percent compared to the same month of 2019 and March 2020.

      In an interview on May 11, BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson noted that the resumption of open houses will depend largely on how people feel safe about in-person interactions.

      Ogmundson said that as the government relaxes restrictions to restart the economy, it may take some time before things normalize.

      “It’s going to be awhile before we figure out how comfortable people are,” Ogmundson told the Straight by phone.