Real estate in a pandemic 

I’m a broker, and every colleague I’ve spoken to expected it. I’d like to think we were prepared for it. But it’s a bit like trying to prepare for a tsunami. You can only do so much, and then you just ride it out as best as you can.

In case you’ve forgotten, I’m not in Ulster County. I’m out west, beyond Delhi, in Delaware County. And yes, it’s just as wild here with downstaters looking for a getaway as it is in Ulster County.

There’s an extra worry. A realtor seems, at least to me, like the very definition of a potential viral super-spreader.


Think about it. I meet a bunch of strangers on any given day. Perhaps, because of the rush on upstate real estate, I may show houses to several people in the space of a day. My clients and I often meet another agent, too, who represents the seller or the buyer. And then we go into someone’s home and look around.

Isn’t this a bit like the traffic pattern of a rat during the bubonic plague?

The industry is taking precautions. We’re supposed to wear masks, gloves, wipe down surfaces anyone touches after a showing. We’re supposed to limit the number of people inside a property at one time. We get Covid disclaimers signed and keep logs so a tracer can follow the trail to find anyone exposed to the virus if anyone gets sick.

But, like the general public’s behavior with masks, there’s no way to know who’s sticking to the rules, and who’s playing it a bit fast and loose when the opportunity presents itself.

Do I feel a little foolish as I hand out gloves, trail around after clients, and wipe down door knobs? I do. Do I mind feeling a little foolish? I do not. We just emerged from a hundred days of lockdown, and so far, I only personally know one person who got Covid. He said he’s never been sicker, but he recovered.

I’m taking this very seriously. I am not lulled into a sense of security by our state’s declining infection rate. It could change in a week if we’re not smart.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.