Business during Covid-19 alert level 3

All real estate work should occur remotely wherever possible.
Our staff remain active, on-call and are working remotely as much as possible. 
Our offices are closed to the public.  The health and wellbeing of our team, buyers and sellers, and the community is paramount.

The following is guidance for the real estate sales industry working at alert level 3 and has been prepared having regard to available information from government and the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 12) 2021 (and relevant amendments).  These guidelines are designed to support the safety and wellbeing of all people 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.

This page was last reviewed and updated on 17 October 2021.

The primary objective of our actions when working at alert level 3 is to prevent and limit the risk of the outbreak or spread of COVID-19.

We must meet the health requirements listed below in the health interests of our staff, buyers, vendors and all New Zealanders. We encourage everyone to take a cautious approach to ensure the safety of all involved.

Remote and virtual processes are preferred and encouraged.

In addition to this guidance, which is specific to conducting real estate business at alert level 3, all our offices operating at alert level 3 have a responsibility to adhere to all COVID-19 public health guidance and health and safety obligations. 

Read the government alert level 3 guidance on the COVID-19 website. The COVID-19 website also has information on moving house, home maintenance, and buying or selling a property here.

Read the key steps to stay healthy on the COVID-19 website.

You can find information for consumers about buying and selling property during alert level 3 on settled.govt.nz.

Operating safely

Our offices operating under alert level 3 must work to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This means:

  • complying with government guidance about alert level 3
  • meeting appropriate public health requirements for their workplace, for example, display of QR codes, contact tracing systems, wearing face coverings and physical distancing
  • meeting all other health and safety obligations, including the health requirements below.

NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes are displayed in a prominent place at our offices and any property for sale. Manual registers are available for those who do not have access to NZ COVID Tracer app.

We have systems and processes in place to record and retain the details (including names, phone numbers and email addresses) of attendees for 60 days for contact tracing purposes. We ensure that our contact tracing records secure.

It is recommended that customers, clients and employees scan the NZ COVID Tracer app QR code and record their details on a register (however they must do one or the other).

Property viewings and visits

Property viewings and visits may only be undertaken in person in limited circumstances and remote processes are preferred. We encourage a cautious approach to professionals providing on-site services. Any viewing and visit must be contactless, and all health requirements must be met. Prospective buyers should view a property online (for example, by video) wherever possible. Potential buyers cannot cross the alert level 3 and 2 boundaries for a property viewing. 

Visits to a property by professionals providing support to the sales process, or viewings of a person’s home by purchasers or potential purchasers and inspections may occur at a person’s home. The only people who may be present during a visit is a person who is:

  • a resident of the property; 
  • a person inspecting the property to relocate their home or business premise; and/or
  • a worker providing the services.

One-on-one viewings and pre-settlement inspections may be possible. But traditional open homes with multiple parties are unlikely to be possible All health requirements including physical distancing requirements and limits on who can be present for a viewing described above. All health requirements including physical distancing, contact tracing and wearing face coverings must be met.

Tenanted properties

If the property is tenanted, the usual principles apply – the tenant's approval is required before a viewing or visit.  Tenants should not be at the property when carrying out an inspection or during any visits or viewings. If this is not possible, all parties must meet 2-metre physical distancing requirements.

Communication with our clients and buyers

All conversations with clients and potential buyers must be by phone, email or video call.

Getting the best outcome for our client could mean advising them to make changes to the agreed marketing plan or sales method, and allowing them to seek professional advice before making any changes. We also continue to ensure we treat buyers fairly. This means giving buyers enough time to complete their due diligence and seek professional advice.  Above all, we consider the safety and wellbeing of all parties involved in a transaction and support compliance with the applicable health orders

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.

We are complying with these health requirements at alert level 3

  • Our teams are working from home during level 3 unless it is impossible to do so. Work in the office occurs in limited circumstances in line with health guidelines including physical distancing, contact tracing, and hygiene requirements
  • Customers, clients and members of the public cannot enter our offices.  Personal contact with our customers and clients is prohibited.
  • We maintain the hygiene standards set out in the government guidelines

Traditional open homes are unlikely to be possible given the limits on who can be present at the property, but they can happen remotely. One on one visits or viewings may only be undertaken in person in limited circumstances and remote processes are preferred. Any visit or viewing should meet the following additional health requirements:

  • visits to properties by professionals to support the real estate transaction process and to complete pre-sale conditions are permitted provided all health requirements are strictly met and where remote or virtual processes cannot be used
  • viewings must be contactless, and we must maintain 2-metre physical distancing and ensure there are systems and processes in place to ensure compliance with this requirement.
  • people at high risk of COVID-19 (for example, older people or those with existing medical conditions), should not visit a property and visits should not occur where any occupant is at high risk. You can find information about people who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 on the Ministry of Health website.
  • we must:
    • not visit a 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. It is the our responsibility to ask the property occupants if anyone is unwell or has been in contact with a COVID-19 case
    • not visit a property if we or anyone we have been in contact with are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
    • minimise our time at a property
    • maintain physical distancing by minimising personal contact with all people outside our extended bubble including colleagues, clients and potential buyers
    • keep a record of everyone we have contact with including their contact details
    • encourage all visitors to a property to sanitise their hands before entering and after leaving a property
    • have systems and processes in place to record and retain the details (including names, phone numbers and email addresses) of attendees for 60 days for contact tracing purposes. We ensure these contact tracing records are kept secure
    • encourage visitors to a property to scan the NZ COVID Tracer app QR code and record their details on a register
    • wear a face covering when dealing with a client or customer and maintain 2-metre physical distancing
    • encourage our vendors and any potential buyers aged 12 and over to wear a face covering and maintain 2-metre physical distancing
    • ensure visits are contactless and cleaning of surfaces is undertaken after each visit to the property

Listing and marketing a property

Meeting clients and appraising a property

During alert level 3, we cannot meet customers or clients in person in our office.

Where possible, we will appraise the property using virtual methods instead of entering the property. 

In the case of a virtual appraisal, we will request comprehensive and full information by asking detailed and specific questions about the condition of your property. Virtual appraisal of tenanted properties must be carried out with the tenant’s agreement. If we conduct a virtual appraisal at alert level 3, we will follow up with a physical appraisal at alert level 2.

If a virtual appraisal isn’t possible, we can visit your home to conduct an appraisal if you and any tenants agree and provided that no person is present other than a resident of the property.  We must all comply with the above health requirements. All other discussions about marketing plans, disclosures and how the listing will progress will be by phone or video call to minimise personal contact.

Signing the agency agreement

All discussions regarding the agency agreement should be done remotely.

As usual, make will ensure you are provided with all relevant documents and have  enough time to read and understand them before signing the agreement. We can email this to you.

Contracts should be signed electronically. We can also use contactless pickup or delivery for the contract if necessary. Remember that under alert level 3 all people must stay at home.

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual. We suggest you allow extra time to seek legal and other professional advice as necessary about the agency agreement and transaction.

Marketing a property

Marketing a property must be done remotely where possible.

Property viewings and visits may only be undertaken in person in limited circumstances and remote processes are preferred. We encourage a cautious approach to professionals providing on-site services. Any viewing and visit must be contactless and all health requirments must be met. Prospective buyers should view a property online (for example, by video) wherever possible. Potential buyers cannot cross the alert level 3 and 2 boundary for a property viewing. 

Visits to a property by professionals providing support to the sales process, or viewings of a person’s home by one purchaser or potential purchaser and inspections may occur at a person’s home. The only people who may be present at the visit is a person who is:

  • a resident of the property; and
  • residents of 1 other home who are inspecting the property for the purposes of relocation, or who are relocating to the property, and
  • the minimum number of workers required to the provide the services.

One-on-one viewings and pre-settlement inspections may be possible. But traditional open homes with multiple parties are unlikely to be possible given the physical distancing requirements and the restriction on who can attend.

We will liaise with property owners to obtain their consent and ensure that any visits or viewings are kept to a minimum and all health requirements  strictly adhered to.

Professionals (for example, photographers, videographers or home stagers) that visit a property must comply with the health requirements and should only attend if remote and virtual processes cannot be used. They will also comply with any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role.

Open homes, visits and viewings

Open homes may not be possible at alert level 3, given the limit on who may be present at the property.

One on one property viewings and visits may be undertaken in person in limited circumstances and remote processes are preferred. We encourage a cautious approach when providing on-site services. Any viewing and visit must be contactless and all health requirements must be met. Prospective buyers should view a property online (for example, by video) wherever possible. Potential buyers cannot cross the alert level 3 and 2 boundary for a property viewing. 

Visits to a property by professionals providing support to the sales process, or viewings of a person’s home by one purchaser or potential purchaser and inspections may occur at a person’s home. The only people who may be present at a visit is a person who is:

  • a resident of the property; and
  • residents of 1 other home who are inspecting the property for the purposes of relocation, or who are relocating to the property, and
  • the minimum number of workers required to the provide the services.

One-on-one viewings and pre-settlement inspections may be possible.

In-person viewings must comply with the health requirements and should meet the following conditions.

We will provide hand sanitiser and display the COVID-19 Tracer app QR code and hygiene notices at the property. If possible, we will email COVID-19 information and hygiene notices to attendees before the viewing and encourage them to wear a face covering.

We will:

  • ensure the viewing is contactless
  • will open cupboards and internal and external doors before the private viewing to minimise surface transmission
  • ask attendees to remove their shoes before entering the house
  • work with the owner/occupier of the property to ensure at least a one-hour window between each buyer viewing for the owner/occupier to ensure that any surfaces that have been touched are cleaned with an acceptable antiviral cleaning product and that doors/windows are opened for ventilation.
  • provide digital information about the property where possible, rather than printed material

The vendor or any property occupants should not be at the property when the viewing occurs.

Buyers or potential buyers viewing the property should be limited to members of one household/bubble viewing the property at a time.

Travelling between regions for viewings

Only buyers or potential buyers who live in the alert level 3 region can view the property in person. Remote viewing online (for example, by video) is preferred wherever possible.

Buyers cannot move across the alert level 3 and 2 boundary to view a property.

The transaction

Professionals and tradespeople visiting the property

Visits by professionals and tradespeople (for example, building inspectors, valuers, engineers, builders, plumbers and electricians) are limited during alert level 3. We encourage a cautious approach to professionals providing on-site services, and wherever possible these should be provided virtually. We will work with the vendor to arrange visits in line with the daily limit by assessing on a case-by-case basis on the necessity of the visits.

Where a professional must visit the property to complete due diligence or complete work to meet the conditions of sale, they must comply with the health requirements. They should also comply with any industry-specific or government guidance relevant to their role. Where possible, visits should be contactless. We ask professionals to sanitise any area they have touched, to scan the COVID-19 Tracer app QR code and record their contact details on the register and to wear a face covering.

Any professionals must maintain physical distancing requirements.

Purchasers and our team must not attend the property with the professional. We recommend they stay in contact by phone or video call if they wish to.

We recommend that, if our staff need to give the professional access to the property, they wait outside while the professional works.

Auctions

Auctions can only take place by phone or online bidding.

Signing the sale and purchase agreement

All discussions about the sale and purchase agreement or offers received must take place remotely, for example by phone or video call.

As usual, make will provide all parties with Sale and Purchase Agreement guides and paperwork and allow enough time for them to read and understand it and to seek professional advice before signing the agreement. All documents will be sent by email and should be signed electronically.  We can also use contactless pickup or delivery for the contract if absolutely necessary.

Many lawyers are working from home and can assist by phone, video call or email. Advice may take longer than usual – allow extra time for consultation about the sale and purchase agreement.

Settlement

Pre-settlement inspection

A pre-settlement inspection by the buyer, or by our staff acting for a buyer, is permitted under alert level 3.  We must comply with all health requirements. Only one person representing the buyer can attend the pre-settlement inspection.

Where possible, we will email COVID-19 information and hygiene notices to attendees beforehand.

We will arrange for contactless delivery of sanitised keys if possible.

Buyers cannot move across the alert level 3 and 2 boundary for the purpose of a pre-settlement inspection.

Moving within a region at alert level 3

Buyers who live in an alert level 3 area can move house or relocate their business premises within the alert level 3 area if they are moving permanently or long term.

Removal companies can assist with moving (following the appropriate alert level requirements). Friends and family can’t help the buyer or vendor to move unless they are already part of their bubble. Vendors and buyers must legally have documents on them to show that they are moving house at alert level 3, for example, their signed Sale and Purchase Agreement. A letter from their lawyer confirming the house purchase may also be useful.

We will arrange for exchange of sanitised keys with no physical contact between any party.

Moving between regions at different alert levels

There are very limited reasons for moving across the alert level 3 and 2 boundary.

Moving house from alert level 3 to alert level 2 is strictly limited and can only take place if it is permitted under the Health Order. People can travel across a level 3 boundary into alert level 2, if:

  • Relocating permanently; or
  • Returning home from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2.

People relocating or returning home will need to carry proof of their reason for travel, and not travel if they are unwell or have any symptoms of COVID-19. 

Permitted reasons for moving from alert level 3 to alert level 2 is available on the Unite against COVID-19 Website.

You can travel from alert level 2 through alert level 3 (in one trip) to another alert level 2 area to relocate your main home on a permanent or long-term basis. Your place of departure or destination cannot be in an alert level 3 area. The travel must be necessary, and buyers must legally have documents on them to show that they are moving house through an area at alert level 3, for example, their signed Sale and Purchase Agreement.

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