Unvaccinated “disadvantaged” real estate agents
Unvaccinated real estate sellers may soon find themselves at a disadvantage, the managing director of a real estate chain said, but there is no industry-wide Covid-19 vaccination mandate yet.
Last week, the government announced that, as part of its new traffic light system, workers in companies requiring a vaccination certificate on entry should also be vaccinated. This included restaurants, cafes, gyms and other ânearbyâ businesses, such as hairdressers.
While the mandate does not extend to the real estate sector, the Real Estate Authority and the Real Estate Institute said work on how the sector could adapt to the new Covid strategy is underway.
Many large companies, such as PwC, Russell McVeagh, and MediaWorks, have already introduced vaccine requirements for their staff.
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In the real estate sector, individual agencies have said they are following industry regulator guidelines to operate at each different Covid alert level, but some also recommend vaccination.
Lodge Real Estate chief executive Jeremy O’Rourke said his agency had not mandated its agents and staff to get vaccinated, but its senior executives were encouraging it.
âOur point of view is that practicing real estate during these times is a privilege and not a right,â he said.
âSo many other businesses that have direct contact with customers are not allowed to operate at this time, and yet we are trusted to do our work in the safest way possible for our community. “
This meant staff vaccination was important because it demonstrated to the community that the health and safety of clients was of paramount importance, he said.
âWe also believe that as New Zealand settles into life with Covid-19, unvaccinated agents will be significantly disadvantaged by those who are vaccinated.
âVendors will demand that vendors be vaccinated. We have had sellers in the past asking that no one be allowed into their property unless they can produce proof of vaccination. ”
O’Rourke said the company has always been clear in its Covid messages to staff and agents, and the message has not changed. âWear a mask, social distancing and get vaccinated. “
Barfoot & Thompson chief executive Peter Thompson said the agencies were working with industry bodies and WorkSafe on next steps.
“Until we get clear direction, we recommend people get vaccinated, but they review all requests on a case-by-case basis.”
Proppy Real Estate co-founder Hannah Walker said her company would follow government instructions on whether vaccinations should be mandatory, but she was fully vaccinated and encouraged sellers to do the same.
Her online model worked well under Covid’s restrictions as it allowed buyers and sellers to make sales while being as contactless as possible, she said.
âWhen buyers visit properties in person, our staff follow procedures to ensure personal safety and display QR codes. There is no need to attend crowded auction rooms or visit company offices to draft contracts when selling or buying through us.
Harcourt chief executive Bryan Thomson said clear operational requirements for real estate are set as part of the current health ordinance for each level of Covid, and are being monitored closely.
The requirements did not yet make vaccination mandatory, but if vaccination became mandatory, it would be met, he said.
âClients and clients have the right to ask for the immunization status of any professional they plan to use and to make the decision whether or not to engage, based on the response provided. “
But unless a vaccination mandate was enforced by the government, it was also a matter of personal choice for individuals, he said.
âIf a role requires that a vaccinated person adhere to health and safety rules and someone has chosen not to be vaccinated, the employer and employee will need to identify the best way to resolve the situation. ”
Thomson said the company is doing its best to make sure its employees have access to the best information possible to make an informed decision about vaccination.
âWe fully support all positive initiatives aimed at putting our communities in the best possible position to be Covid-free and to regain the freedoms to live, work and play that we all lack at the moment. “
A spokeswoman for the Ray White Group said he was following the advice of the Real Estate Institute and supporting his position, the Real Estate Authority and the government.
In the property management portion of the sector, Auckland firm Crockers said all of its property managers should be fully immunized.