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Selling property during COVID-19 alert level 2

Sellers  |  23 September 2020  | 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.

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.

Summary of activity at alert level 2
  • Moving house is permitted at alert level 2 – including to and from a region that is at alert level 3. If you will be crossing into a region at a different alert level, you should bring documents to support your reason for travel, if possible.
  • You can hold open homes, private viewings and auctions at alert level 2 for potential buyers from within your region, or from another region at alert level 1 or alert level 2. Requirements for gatherings, hygiene, physical distancing, wearing a face covering and contact tracing must be followed.
  • Property inspectors, valuers, engineers and tradespeople can visit properties at any time during alert level 2, with the consent of the property occupants.
  • Buyers and sellers who deferred settlement during alert levels 3 and 4 may now settle if both parties agree.
  • Some law firms and agents may be working remotely, and this may cause delays.
  • You can find information about staying safe and well at alert level 2 on the COVID-19 website.

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.
  • You should wear a face covering (for example, a face mask), when you’re in spaces where physical distancing may be difficult.
  • 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.
  • Your agent (or you if you're selling privately) must collect the full contact details of everyone who is visiting your property in case these are needed for contact tracing.
  • 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.

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 may also want to wear a face covering.

You should record your visit through the NZ COVID Tracer app by scanning the QR code. There will be a QR code displayed at the entrance to the office. For more information about using the NZ COVID Tracer app visit the COVID-19 website. If you choose not to use the app, record your visit via the contact tracing register provided by the agency.

Do as much as you can by phone or video call rather than in person.

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.

Getting an appraisal

At alert level 2, agents can visit your property to appraise it. 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). If the agent isn't able to visit the property to do an appraisal (for example, if one of the property occupants is at risk), 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 wearing a face covering and maintaining 2 metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette.

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. A maximum of 100 people may attend an auction and a physical distance of 2 metres must be maintained. If the auction is being held at your property, there may be even fewer people allowed to attend, so that the agent can make sure physical distancing is maintained. The health guidelines above must be followed.

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. You can also ask them to wear a face covering for duration of their visit. 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

Open homes and private viewings are allowed at alert level 2 for potential buyers from regions that are alert level 1 or alert level 2. You, the agent and anyone visiting your property need to follow the health guidelines above.

Attendance at open homes 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 a 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 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.

Offers can be presented to you in person or by email, phone or video call. 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 the property's occupants agree. Professionals and tradespeople need to meet the above health requirements, including hygiene etiquette, maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres from anyone at the property, and sanitising any surfaces they touch. You can also ask them to 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.

Read more about pre-settlement inspections here.

Completing settlement and moving

Settlement and moving can go ahead within or between regions that are at alert level 2, or alert level 1.

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.

Tenanted properties

Your 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.

To understand your responsibilities if you're selling a tenanted property check the Tenancy Services website.

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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