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Selling property during COVID-19 alert level 2

Sellers  |  16 October 2021  | By the team at settled.govt.nz

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This page explains some of your options if you're selling or thinking about selling during COVID-19 alert level 2.
This page was last reviewed and updated on 16 October 2021.

This information is designed to support the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in real estate transactions and to prevent and limit the risk of spread of COVID-19, and to respond to the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant.

At alert level 2, there are still important considerations around hygiene, wearing a face covering, physical distancing between people and being able to trace anyone you have been in contact with.

For general information about the current COVID-19 situation, please visit covid19.govt.nz.

Find information about buying property at alert level 2 here.

This page includes information about:

Health guidelines

You must follow these alert level 2 health guidelines which are referred to throughout this page.

  • Keep at least 2-metres away from anyone you don't know, both inside and outside
  • Anyone aged 12 and over is strongly encouraged to wear a face covering (for example, a face mask), when visiting a property, attending auctions or meeting with a real estate professional
  • People shouldn't visit your property if the occupants are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
  • Limit the number of people visiting your property at the same time to ensure physical distancing can be maintained
  • A NZ COVID Tracer app QR code must be displayed at every agency office and property for sale. There must also be a contact tracing register. Visitors are strongly encouraged to scan the NZ COVID Tracer app QR code and provide their contact details on the contact tracing register (but they must do one or the other). The information will be held by the agent for 60 days for contact tracing purposes
  • There are limits on the number of people that can attend open homes and auctions in addition to ensuring 2-metre physical distancing requirements can be met
  • Encourage all visitors to your property to sanitise their hands before entering and after leaving your property
  • If you are an at-risk person (for example, those with a pre-existing medical condition or some older people), you are encouraged to do as much as you can by phone or video call rather than in person. For more information about who is considered at risk, visit the Ministry of Health website

Real estate agents have been provided with clear guidance on what can and can’t happen under COVID-19 alert level 2. Remember, your real estate agent works for you and should provide you with clear and timely advice as to what is permitted under alert level 2, so that you can make the best decisions in these significant transactions. Getting the best outcome for you could mean your agent may recommend changes to the agreed marketing plan or sales method, depending on your personal circumstances. Talk to your real estate agent about your options.

We recommend you talk to your lawyer to seek legal advice early before making any decisions.

Remember that your real estate agent also has obligations to treat buyers and potential buyers fairly, and to give them time to make the best decisions. Buyers may need extra time during COVID-19 alert level 2 to complete their due diligence checks and to meet conditions. Have a discussion with your agent about the best way to manage this, for example, by agreeing to extend the conditional period. You may want to get legal advice on the consequences of extending a conditional period.

If you are thinking about selling

Listing your property

At alert level 2, real estate offices can open, and you can visit to talk to agents or sign contracts. We recommend that you use your own pen. You will need to follow the health guidelines above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette. You are also encouraged to wear a face covering.

Read more about deciding to sell with an agent or privately here.

If you do want to sell with an agent, read more about the process here.

Tenanted properties

If your property is tenanted, the tenant needs to give permission every time anyone visits the property in relation to the sale (for example, the agent, a photographer or a property inspector). Tenants can't unreasonably refuse access, but they can set reasonable conditions. If they are an at-risk person (for example, those who have a pre-existing medical condition or some older people), they may want to set reasonable conditions for access to the property.

Getting an appraisal

At alert level 2, agents can visit your property to appraise it. You will need to follow the health guidelines above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette. You are also encouraged to wear a face covering. The agent needs to keep a physical distance of 2-metres from anyone at the property and ensure that they follow good hygiene practices (for example, using anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down any areas they touch and wearing a face covering).

Because they will go through all rooms in your property, if you think it will be difficult to maintain a 2-metre distance from them, you and the other people who live there, should leave the property or wait outside until the appraisal has been completed.

If you are a high-risk person, are self-isolating or have any upper respiratory symptoms, you must let your agent know as they will not be able to come to your property.

If the agent can’t visit the property to do an appraisal (for example, if one of the property occupants is at-risk), they can appraise the property using virtual methods instead of entering the property. The agent will need to get a comprehensive and full disclosure from you by asking detailed and specific questions about the condition of the property. The agent needs to be satisfied that no consumer is adversely affected by the lack of physical inspection.  They will need to update the appraisal when they are able to visit the property.

Be aware that the appraisal may change after the agent has visited the property because they may see things that affect the potential sale price (for example, problem building materials like asbestos.)

Signing the agency agreement

The agent will need to explain what you are signing in the agency agreement, and this discussion can take some time. At alert level 2, the agent might suggest you have this discussion over the phone or by video call. When you're ready to sign the agency agreement, you can meet to do this in person. We suggest you take your own pen. You will need to follow the health guidelines above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette. You are also encouraged to wear a face covering.

Make sure you have received from your agent and had time to read the Agency Agreement Guide before signing the agency agreement. Read more about agency agreements here.

Deciding on a method of sale

Talk to your agent about the best method of sale for your property.

Auctions can take place at alert level 2 but must be carefully managed by the agent. Auctions held indoors or outdoors are limited to 100 people. The layout and size of the venue may mean the number of people who can practically maintain 2-metre physical distancing is less than 100. At-risk buyers may decide to place phone bids rather than attend in person.

Read more about the different methods of sale here.

Professional photographs, videos and staging

At alert level 2, a photographer, videographer or home-stager may visit your property if it is safe to do so. They need to meet the above health guidelines, including hygiene etiquette, maintaining a physical distance of 2-metres from anyone at the property, and sanitising any surfaces they touch. They should wear a face covering for the duration of their visit. You must keep a record of all people who visit your property in case it’s needed for contact tracing.

Sellers who have listed their property

Complying with the anti-money laundering obligations

When you sign the agency agreement, the agent needs to confirm your identity to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.

If you signed an agency agreement at alert level 3 or alert level 4 when this could not happen in person, expect your agent to follow up on this at alert level 2.

The estimated sale price of the property

If your property was listed during alert level 3 or alert level 4, the agent might not have been able to appraise the property in person. At alert level 2, your agent can complete the appraisal in person. Be aware that the estimated sale price might change when your agent is able to visit your property to do a thorough appraisal.

Open homes and private viewings

At alert level 2, you can hold and go to open homes, auctions and private viewings. You can travel to another region that is in alert level 1 or 2 to view a property. You, the agent and anyone visiting your property need to follow thehealth guidelines above.

Attendance at opens homes is limited to 100 people and must be managed carefully to ensure that physical distancing of 2-metres is maintained at all times inside and outside the home and that contact tracing requirements can be met. Your agent will make sure there are measures in place to allow for physical distancing considering the layout and size of your property, for example, staggering entry to the property and managing queues.

Your agent will provide hand sanitiser and display COVID-19 information and hygiene notices at the open home. The agent will also display a NZ COVID Tracer app QR code at every entrance to your property, for potential buyers to scan. The agent should keep an open home register too, for security purposes, and so they can follow up with potential buyers after the open home. Make sure you agree with your agent who will wipe down surfaces after people have visited your property.

If you are an at-risk person you may decide not to have open homes at your property. Talk to your agent about other options for potential buyers to view your home, for example, video tours or private viewings. If you are nervous about letting potential buyers visit your property during alert level 2, you could request that potential buyers must wear a face covering as a condition of entry to your property. Your agent will be able to advise you.

Be mindful that buyers cannot move across an alert level 3 and alert level 2 boundary to attend an open home or private viewing in a region at alert level 2. Consider options for virtual viewings for these potential buyers instead.

If you are selling privately, it is your responsibility to make sure you can meet the alert level 2 physical distancing and hygiene requirements. You can find more information here.

Receiving offers

New Zealand may continue to change COVID-19 alert levels across different regions, which could impact the sale of your property. Before you start receiving offers, talk to the agent and your lawyer about the conditions you might need to put in the sale and purchase agreement to protect you, for example, from not being able to settle on settlement day because of a change in alert level. Make sure you have received from your agent and had time to read the Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide before receiving any offers.

Offers can be presented to you in person, by email, phone or video call. If receiving offers in person, you will need to follow the health guidelines above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette. You should also wear a face covering.

Any conditions in offers from buyers might need longer timeframes than usual, for example, they might ask for 15 working days instead of 10 working days to get a property inspection done.

Learn more about receiving offers and making counter offers here.

Meeting conditions

At alert level 2, professionals and tradespeople such as valuers, property inspectors and builders may visit a property if it is safe to do so and if you and the property's occupants (if tenanted) agree. Professionals and tradespeople need to meet the above health guidelines, including hygiene etiquette, maintaining a physical distance of 2-metres from anyone at the property, and sanitising any surfaces they touch. They should wear a face covering for the duration of their visit. Keep a record of all people who visit your property in case it’s needed for contact tracing. 

Pre-settlement inspections

At alert level 2, buyers can conduct pre-settlement inspections and can travel between regions to do so, provided that both regions are at alert level 1 or alert level 2. The buyers need to follow the health guidelines outlined above. Make sure you agree with your agent who will wipe down surfaces after people have visited your property.

If the buyer is in a region at alert level 3, they cannot cross the alert level 3 and alert level 2 boundary to conduct a pre-settlement inspection. Your agent may offer other options for the buyer to conduct a pre-settlement inspection, for example a virtual inspection. Talk to your lawyer or conveyancer about the best approach for your transaction. You could consider postponing settlement and the pre-settlement inspection until their region drops down to alert level 1 or 2.

Read more about pre-settlement inspections here.

Completing settlement and moving

At Alert Level 2, you can move house, including between different Alert Level areas if you are going home or moving or relocating permanently.  If you are moving to an area with the same Alert Level settings, you can:

  • ask your friends or whānau to help you move
  • use a moving company.

Movers will need to follow physical distancing guidelines and keep a record of where they have been to help with contact tracing.

If anyone is unwell or has symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home and get tested.

You can move house from an Alert Level 2 to an Alert Level 3 area if you are moving or relocating home permanently. You must carry documents with you to show that you are moving house to help explain your travel. This could be a tenancy or sales agreement or proof of address.

You can move home from an Alert Level 3 to an Alert Level 2 area if you are moving or relocating home permanently. Everyone aged 12 and over must have evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result administered no more than 72 hours before travel. You will also need to carry evidence of your reason to travel — for example a signed Sale and  Purchase agreement, or proof of address.

For more information about permitted travel between alert levels, visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Moving companies can now assist with a move between alert level regions.

Please see the information provided on the Unite Against COVID-19 website for further information on moving, buying and selling your home. Talk to your lawyer or conveyancer about the best approach for your transaction. You could consider postponing settlement and the pre-settlement inspection until your region drops down to alert level 1 or 2.

New Zealand is in the middle of a unique situation where the health of all New Zealanders has to be the priority. It is likely to be stressful for all parties involved in a transaction, so be kind and consider the needs of others when you’re communicating about a transaction.

Your agent should arrange for sanitised keys to be provided with no physical contact between any party.

Read more about settlement here.

The selling process

The general selling process hasn't changed. We recommend you look through settled.govt.nz to read about planning and preparing to sell.

Read more about preparing your property for sale here.

If you have a problem or concern

If you are concerned that a real estate agent isn’t observing the COVID-19 health requirements, you can report a COVID-19 breach using the form on the New Zealand Police website.

If you have a problem with a real estate agent that you can’t resolve directly with them, find out how the Real Estate Authority (REA) can help you on the REA website.

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