COVID-19 Information for Real Estate Consumers

RECA understands that consumers may be concerned about how COVID-19 might impact their real estate transactions.

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, rent out, or lease property, it is important to work cooperatively with your real estate professionals to decide what precautions or adjustments you may need to make to keep yourself and others healthy.

RECA expects real estate professionals to remain vigilant in these extraordinary circumstances, attempting to find ways to conduct business without compromise to the health and wellbeing of consumers, themselves, and their colleagues, and in accordance with whatever government restrictions are put in place. As such, RECA has advised real estate professionals to reach out to their clients to discuss the options available for mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 while continuing to provide high quality service. We have prepared the following information to assist you in working with your real estate professional. Please note that none of this information should be used in place of information provided by medical professionals and the Government of Alberta.

Sellers, looking for quick tips? Read the new Ask Charles article on selling your home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice. Consumers should seek legal advice based on their specific facts and circumstances. 


Before you have a conversation with your real estate professional, asses your own personal risk tolerance with COVID-19. You should also understand the current measures set in place to keep our communities safe.

Understandably, while some individuals may want to exit the real estate market, others may choose to (or need to) continue buying, selling, leasing, or renting. Knowing your own comfort level with the risk of COVID-19 will inform your discussions with your real estate professional.


Your real estate professional may advise you on the following ideas to make transactions safer, depending on if you’re a buyer, seller, landlord, or tenant:

  • screening buyers, sellers, or tenants
  • real estate professionals travel to viewings with clients separately
  • employ conditional showings based on the use of gloves and hand sanitizer, with limits on what viewers can touch i.e., only knobs and light switches
  • disinfect all high contact areas after viewings
  • reduce in-person viewing with photos and videos
  • discuss your comfort level with open houses and the options available for reducing risk if open houses are held
  • suspend viewings temporarily depending on rules from your professional’s local real estate board
  • end listings or buyer representation agreements and agree in writing to re-enter into these agreements at a later time

Agree to A Path Forward in Writing

Real estate professionals will suggest these decisions be documented in writing to ensure follow-through by both parties. Any amendments to representation agreements, including suspending agreements and intentions to enter new agreements need to be in writing.


Real estate transactions have multiple components which involve interactions with many regulated professionals. You may have a relationship with a real estate professional, a property manager, and a mortgage broker. It is important to note what to discuss with every professional about any concerns, existing options, and preventative safety measures.

For instance, when working with your mortgage broker, the mortgage application can mostly be done remotely. You can speak with your mortgage broker by phone or electronically, and you can organize a courier to drop off and pick up original contracts to minimize exposure.

Also, you should discuss any cleaning and precautionary measures or viewing conditions with home inspectors and real estate appraisers as you would for an open house.

Real estate lawyers will likely need to attend in person to sign documents to demonstrate their identity, and for you to verify yours. individuals should speak to their lawyer to address any concerns before meeting with them.

Information on COVID-19 for tenants: https://www.alberta.ca/residential-tenancy-dispute-resolution-service.aspx


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I am the buyer/seller in a real estate transaction. My real estate professional (or another party) is proposing COVID-19 related clauses and liability waivers. Should I agree to them?

COVID-19 related clauses and liability waivers are relatively new. RECA strongly urges you to speak with your lawyer before agreeing to any such clauses or waivers. Your lawyer will assist you in understanding the implications of these clauses or waivers on your specific situation, and whether they are right for you. They will also be in a position to provide amendments to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

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What can I do if I want to view a property, but the owner won’t let anybody in?

The government has encouraged everyone to take part in social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

If it is not essential that you view the property immediately, you may want to wait until the owner is willing to provide access. If you need to view a property currently for sale and the owner will not permit in-person viewings, you may want to speak to your real estate professional about alternate solutions such as video tours, photos, or another possibilities. If none of those options are acceptable, you may have to wait or eliminate that property from your list.

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What can I do if I want to a view a property, but my real estate professional is concerned about the risks of COVID-19?

It is important to understand that real estate professionals must also self-assess their own risk tolerances when it comes to COVID-19.

If it is essential that you view the property now, you may wish to discuss with your real estate professional how you can view the property, and discuss any risks that could arise. Please also be aware that if you have entered into any representation agreement with your real estate professional, you may be responsible for commissions owed to them, even if they are not the professional present at the viewing.

If you have entered into such an agreement you should seek legal advice as to your options. As a last resort, you may wish to ask your real estate professional to refer you to another professional at their brokerage who is willing show you the property. If your professional is part of a designated agency brokerage, using a different professional will require an amendment to your service agreement allowing the new professional to act as your designated agent.

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How do I sanitize my home to protect my family from potential contamination?

Various health organizations have compiled key information sources for up-to-date information about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself:

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I’ve just returned from a vacation outside the country. Can I still have showings at my home?

The government has issued very clear and unequivocal instructions to self-quarantine for 14 days once you return. This means no physical interaction, period. This means you cannot even leave your home the day of a showing. Talk to your real estate professional about your options, including video showings, and possibly suspending your listing until the pandemic ends.

Remember that any amendments to service agreements, including pausing your listing, must be agreed to in writing.

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I am in one of the most-at-risk groups for complications from COVID-19. Should I allow viewings?

The government has recommended that it is better for people aged 70 and over, or with pre-existing conditions, to stay at home and avoid contact. This would include strangers coming into your home for showings. Talk to your real estate professional about your options, including video showings, and possibly suspending your listing until the pandemic ends.

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Do I have the right to ask buyers or sellers questions about COVID-19 and their health condition prior to visits?

Yes. However, they are not required to answer. Ask your real estate professional to talk to the buyer/seller’s real estate professional about this. You should also carefully consider the implications a buyer/seller who refuses to respond to the question.

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I have a fully accepted offer but I no longer want to sell because of COVID-19: do I have the right to do this?

Most likely you do not have the right, as it would break a legally binding contract. The parties are bound by the terms of the contract. If you no longer wish to sell after signing the offer and acceptance, you could potentially be exposed to legal action by the buyer. You may also be required to pay commissions. Speak to your lawyer about the possible repercussions for your actions. Your lawyer may also be able to negotiate a termination to the purchase and sale contract with the buyer.

Read the terms of contracts carefully.

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I don’t want someone in my property to measure using the RMS during the COVID-19 Pandemic. What can I do?

RECA does not require professionals to advertise the size of your property. If you’re uncomfortable with someone coming to measure your property, you can ask your real estate professional to not make a size representation. If their local board requires them to advertise a size, have them contact their local board to discuss if there are any size relaxations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an alternative, you may want to contact home measurement companies and examine their pandemic preparations. Some home measurement companies have significantly altered their processes to prevent the infection of their customers and employees.

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I have accepted an offer for the sale of my property. The buyer lost their job due to the COVID-19 crisis and his lender is now refusing to grant financing: what can I do?

Most lender commitments remain conditional on the borrower's (buyer’s) financial position remaining unchanged. In the case of a layoff, even a temporary one, there have been instances in the past where the lending institution has refused to finance the mortgage.

If this is the case, have your real estate professional speak to the buyer’s real estate professional and see what arrangements can be made to secure financing before the possession date. Speak to your lawyer and take the necessary steps to secure your best interest. One of the steps may involve having your lawyer speak to the trustee holding the deposits in trust, claiming the trust deposits.

Refer to the remuneration clause of your service agreement with your real estate professional to determine any commissions you may owe.

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My home is listed but I am self-isolating. What can I do if I don’t want people viewing my property?

To list your home for sale with a real estate professional you will have entered into a seller representation agreement with your professional’s brokerage. This agreement is a contract that outlines what you and your real estate professional agree to do to facilitate the sale of your home, including any provisions for showings. Speak to your real estate professional about the different options.

RECA has prepared a checklist for all real estate professionals that they can discuss with you. The options include cancelling showings until your isolation period is over, or amending the term of your listing agreement to limit or prohibit viewings entirely. Your real estate professional should also check with their local real estate board about any relaxations for certain agreement obligations during this time, as the real estate boards may have specific requirements about making your property available to show.

If you are unable to come to agree on a path forward with your real estate professional, contact their broker. Your listing agreement is with the brokerage, not your individual real estate professional, and the broker will have the authority to assist you. If you can’t come to an agreement, you may consider terminating the representation agreement. However, this can result in you owing damages, so you may want to seek legal advice before you consider this option. Ultimately, in these times, the hope is that common sense will prevail and all parties will be able to come to a satisfactory solution.



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