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In the market to buy a California home? You may be surprised to find that you’ll be required to sign paperwork to get into the property for a viewing. This is part of the coronavirus impact on real estate sales and is likely to be part of the normal home buying process for awhile.

Do I have to sign paperwork for a buyer broker agreement? What is required?

You'll need to sign paperwork to view homes during the pandemic

No, the paperwork required is not a buyer broker agreement at all. Instead, it has to do with the pandemic, your safety, and the safety of anyone else living at or visiting the home. (Read more about a buyer broker agreement here.)

First, something you don’t sign:  The seller’s agent is supposed to provide your real estate agent and you a document with the safety protocol for your visit. It’s often referred to as the “prevention plan” or  “best practices”. That form provides info on safety rules and tips as well as what the listing agent or seller will due to help insure your safety during your visit.

For any listing agents who are Realtors, you can use this form provided by the California Association of Realtors: “Real Estate Best Practices Guidelines and Prevention Plan for Showings During COVID-19 – Stage 2 Expansion”  (C.A.R. Document BPPP, 5/25/20).

While buyers do not sign this, they are supposed to receive the prevention plan before they sign the 2nd document. The listing brokerage does sign it.

From my experience and what I am hearing, there’s quite a bit of confusion over this form, and very few listing agents are sending this out. What might be smart is simply including it or the company’s alternative in with the disclosure package, or make it accessible via the private agent remarks along with instructions about having the buyers sign paperwork prior to the showing.

Second, you must sign paperwork for entry: The buyer’s agent is required to get you, the home buyer, to sign a 2 page form, “Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration – Visitor” (C.A.R. Document PEAD-V, 5/27/2020). Again, this is supposed to happen after you receive the safety protocol.

What’s in the form? Part of it is your declaration that you aren’t sick and haven’t been around anyone sick. Part of it is to warn you about the risks of touring homes during the pandemic. And part of it is the rules for visiting the home.

Can they really make me sign it? What if I refuse to sign paperwork DocuSigned over to me?  You bet, they can refuse to show you the property. No one has an absolute right to tour homes on demand – in any market.

Increasingly, listing agents are utilizing a tool on their electronic lock boxes which makes them inaccessible without an extra code, a CBS code. CBS stands for “Call before showing” so that the listing agent has more control. If no PEAD-V has been emailed over, the code is unlikely to be provided.

Rules for entry - coronavirus home viewing rulesEven more paperwork: Once you arrive at the listing, you should see two documents posted outside by the seller’s agent. These include the rules for entry and more warnings. CAL OSHA has required this as it considers listings to be our work places as real estate professionals. You can read more about this on the State of California’s form regarding real estate transactions (including visits) and Covid-19.

If you want to see a home in today’s coronavirus market, plan to sign paperwork first, but also expect to read other documents that you won’t have to sign. Even more, you’ll want to slow down long enough to read and understand it to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

 

Postscript:

Regarding the fist form, the prevention plan or best practices form, it may be that companies or individuals don’t want to be bound by the boilerplate in that form. While we tell buyers not to touch anything inside the property, the document tells agents that they have to clean quite a number of things between showings, including sinks and toilets.

If buyers aren’t touching anything, why do those items require cleaning? I’m not a fan of this form since I believe it is going too far. Instead, perhaps limit the cleaning requirement to what is reasonable touched, like door knobs, hand rails, light switches (if not already turned on)? I could see asking the buyer’s agent to let us know what was touched so we can clean those items after the visit. Our rules and forms have changed frequently over the last few weeks, and I wouldn’t mind if this one were changed again.