From safety precautions when showing houses, virtual communication with buyers and sellers to an inability to show her support during property closings, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about the way Jan Kanas, executive vice president of real estate sales at Sotheby’s International Realty in Bexley, does her job.

Kanas can’t just focus on matching buyers’ needs in a future home or getting sellers the best deal on their houses – she also has to think about every party’s safety during the process.

“When representing sellers, the added element is how to do it in a safe manner so that if the home is occupied, we are limiting the risk of the buying public coming in to that property,” said Kanas, a resident of Bexely and a member of Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus. “In terms of representing buyers, there are all sorts of safety precautions that have to be taken to show houses.”

Safety precautions when touring a home that she and her buyers must follow include minimizing the time they are exposed to the interior of an occupied house, wearing masks, sanitizing what they come into contact with, not touching door handles and light switches – “being very respectful of not only your buyer, but trying to be as respectful as possible to the health and safety aspects of the actual sellers,” Kanas said.

Kanas said she misses being able to drive her buyers to properties and the conversation they’d share in the car about the toured homes, the communities and learning more about her clients.

Kanas has upped the amount of virtual showings of properties she does to a couple a week so clients unable to travel for showings or would prefer to keep their distance due to COVID-19 can still compete in Central Ohio’s housing market.

She’s yet to see data suggest COVID-19 has caused any change in Central Ohio’s housing market currently dominated by a low supply of available properties and high demand of people wanting to move in to take advantage of its market ­– one of the fastest growing in the country, Kanas said.

While she jumps at the opportunity to help her clients in any way she can, doing the virtual tours over in-person tours means Kanas must be her clients’ eyes.

“It can put a lot of burden on me as a Realtor,” Kanas said. “I often go into properties and do virtual tours from which they are making a buying decision, which can be fraught with all sorts of concerns. I want to be sure that I’m sharing all the finer details of the home, because they’re not actually able to visualize those things themselves.”

Starting in May, she started closing on several properties she virtually showed.

“Some of these buyers will not have stepped foot in the home that they’re buying at all different price ranges until just before the closing,” Kanas said. “I don’t ever take my responsibilities lightly, but my opinion of a property is just that – my opinion – and a buyer may feel differently than I feel.”

And when her clients close on a property, Kanas can’t be there with them to provide encouragement like how she would previous to the pandemic.

“People are making one of the largest financial decisions of their lifetime when they buy a home, and they like to be supported in that process by having their Realtor attend a closing with them,” Kanas said. “That is often not happening because these closings are taking place at title companies that have minimized human contact, basically.”

Despite the changes the pandemic has made, Kanas feels more needed than ever to help people find and sell homes in Central Ohio.

“I think there’s still a reliance from clients on us as Realtors to share the information that they’re looking for,” she said. “I think even more so they are relying upon our expertise to provide them with stronger decision making ideas, because they are often in a time crunch due to the little inventory and lots of buyers in the market. They’ve got to make quick decisions because they don’t want to lose out on an opportunity.”

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