Phase Two Recommendations For Space Tours / Showings

06-05-2020 | by Looking For Space

The Real Estate Board Of New York has released a set of "rules" that tenants, owners and real estate brokers should follow during the second phase of the reopening process for Manhattan, which could happen as early as June 22nd.  Of course, virtual showings and sit photography should be used for a broad stroke indication of interest by the prospect.  This will eliminate a majority of unnecessary showings by culling the units that most obviously will not satisfy the client.

In person showings are restricted to vacant space - and the unit must be cleaned by the agent after each showing.  Keys should also be disinfected, and lock boxes used wherever possible.  We're not sure what this means for showings without the agent present, but obviously all of these guidelines should be followed by a law firm, for example, that is showing a vacant office to a prospective tenant, especially when the tenant is invited as a visitor to the firm under all of the rules, laws, suggestions and regulations established by the building, city and state for in-person visits to an occupied office space.  

Some of the other guidelines include:

  • Everyone's temperature must be below 100.4 degrees F.
  • No hand shaking
  • Doors and cabinets should be opened and lights turned on before the tour, by the agent, super or the landlord.
  • Alcohol based hand sanitizer or hand soap + water + paper towels should be available within the space
  • Agents should be prepared to clean the space themselves
  • Everybody attending a showing should wear a mask at all times.
  • Open the windows, if possible
  • If a unit is too small to allow at least 6' of distance between people, then they should only be allowed in one at a time.

To tell you the truth, we don't see most commercial real estate brokers in NYC adhering to the "clean the space" part of the guidelines, unless this task is assigned to a junior member of the leasing team.  Principals however can easily have anything the visitor touched during the visit sprayed with a disinfectant such as Lysol, after the visitors depart.  Of course, all touching of things should be minimized entirely during the visit - and really a tenant looking for space doesn't really need to touch anything after they have gained access to the unit.

We think there is going to be a lot of "self touring" - where the Agent and Client get together after each has toured the space by themselves, to discuss each space seen.  This could also lead to a lot of "arm-chair real estate" where the agent is available remotely on Facetime or Skype for example so the client can talk to the agent as they walk through the space - and if done properly this could "almost" be as effective for the client to gain information, as if the agent were actually there.

Commercial real estate in New York City will never be the same - and we're all going to have to adjust to some revisions in our roles and duties - as well as our expectations.  For example, we've heard scared whispers among brokers who are concerned that the virtual apps for showings will somehow circumvent their participation in the process.  But as a counterpoint, if your doctor can see you "virtually" - why can't your real estate broker do the same?  And, if a broker can show multiple properties to several clients, from the comfort of his or her chair at home then a question arises that affects all of the young people who are working their way up the ranks in the brokerage community.  The question is:  will all of them be necessary - or will the new rules result in a thinning of the ranks beyond that being caused by lack of immediate income.

It was never easy to be a fledgling in CRE.  Now their difficulties are compounded and going forward it will prove even more arduous to source new clients and satisfy existing clients.  The world has changed and this is the way it has always been - something happens that disrupts what was standard and causes a new situation that is novel.  And all that is said without taking into account the disruption caused by modified demand as more and more people adjust effectively to working from home, reducing the overall demand for office space.

Change is not always good - but it can't be stopped.  There are widely varying opinions on the future of CRE - but we see a lot of the boosters and deniers delivering a self serving message of recovering demand for office space.  We believe it is going to be a while - perhaps into 2022, before a meaningful recovery can start spreading its wings.  The year ahead is going to be rough for brokers - and if you're a broker whose client has extra offices for rent, you're invited to share the platform with us and if we're successful, we'll share our commission from your client with your firm on a 50/50 basis.  Call us for more info or send your flyer to [email protected], and we'll get your listing online as soon as your firm sends us an email confirming its agreement to our Terms of Use.

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