House shopping in the Twin Cities is about to get a whole lot less complicated.
Policies that limited house showings and open houses during the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak are expiring, according to the NorthstarMLS, which manages real estate listings for more than 20,000 real estate agents in the state.
“We’re back to a new normal,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Association of Realtors.
Galler noted that some of the policies that were aimed at protecting buyers and sellers are likely to have a long-term effect on the buying process.
Two temporary policies implemented several weeks ago will expire July 1, said Northstar, which manages the local multiple listing service (MLS).
That includes a policy that enabled showings to be suspended for active listings, which soon will revert to a requirement that they must be available for showings within 24 hours. If a property will be unavailable for showing for 24 hours or longer, it will be deemed “temporarily not available for showing or “pending” if an offer is accepted.
“Coming soon” listings will also be affected.
Agents were allowed to put properties that were soon to be listed in what’s known as “coming soon status” for up to 60 days. When that policy expires, they can only be in that status for up to 21 days.
Those rules were among several restrictions that were implemented to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among buyers and sellers and to assure government officials that the real estate industry was an essential service that could operate safely during the stay-at-home restrictions implemented at the end of March.
Late last month, the MLS also said that it would once again enable Realtors to schedule open houses via house listings on its online portal.
In late March, the Minnesota Realtors had called a halt to open houses and asked the MLS to disable the “open house” feature on its online home-listing database.
Even as those restrictions are being lifted, buyers and sellers will continue to participate in remote closings and meet with their lenders virtually.
Officials at the local real estate associations are still encouraging their members to be cautious.
The Minnesota Realtors recently issued guidance to its members on how to safely conduct open houses, which have yet to become as popular as they were before the outbreak. House showings are also far less common, and unlikely to happen as frequently as they did pre-COVID.
John Mosey, president and CEO of the Northstar MLS, said he expects virtual tours that were standard during the shutdown to become the norm for buyers who are trying to winnow their options. That practice has been especially appealing to sellers who have been able to limit the number of strangers who tour their home.
“People have found that you don’t have to do live, in-person showings, or open houses, as often as in the past,” Mosey said. “People don’t want to be roaming around in other people’s houses and people who put their houses up for sale don’t want people roaming around unless they’re serious.”