Question: What precautions should be taken for an open house?

Answer: Despite six months of COVID-19, the real estate business has not ground to a halt. Or, to put it more accurately, after a hard stop last spring, it is once again percolating along. People feel more comfortable going out, and there remains a pent-up demand.

Open houses are still divisive, however. We don’t recommend cruising Sunday open houses as a way to break your stay-at-home boredom. And many sellers, buyers and agents don’t want to return to that model yet. They often rely instead on video home tours, virtual tours, FaceTime tours or one-on-one showings.

Others, however, believe an open house can be done safely. That’s certainly more likely to be true if the house is vacant, rather than occupied.

If you’re selling your home, your agent should have a protocol for the open house – e.g. no more than one group inside at a time, with others staying outside or in their cars. Your agent may ask visitors to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately upon entry, certainly wear a mask, perhaps remove shoes or cover footwear with booties. All closet and cupboard doors should be open so that no visitor has to touch the handles to look inside. Turn on all your lights, so no one has to flip a switch. Ask your agent to wipe down handles, faucets, banisters and countertops with disinfectant wipes after everyone has gone.

If you are visiting an open house, wear your mask. Leave the in-laws and children at home.

Earlier in the year, many real estate agents asked visitors to sign a disclosure form stating that the visitor had no COVID symptom and didn’t have a connection to anyone with symptoms. As we’ve learned more about how COVID-19 is spread and how asymptomatic carriers also spread the disease, those forms have pretty much fallen into disuse.

What remains: Use your best COVID common sense to protect yourself, your family and your colleagues.