D-FW Real Estate Brokerages And Businesses Plan For Coronavirus Fallout

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In order to keep our hospital system from collapsing, the CDC is urging Americans to take protective measures. Chart: Vox

This story will be updated as new closures and postponements are announced.

Business is anything but usual as the Coronavirus pandemic forces real estate executives to make a difficult decision. As of noon on Thursday, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services reported 23 confirmed cases in the state. Seven of them are in Dallas, Collin, and Tarrant Counties.

Compass Preston Center Closes Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Compass Preston Center Dallas is asking agents to work from home for the rest of the week because of a Compass team member that has come in contact with a family member with flu-like symptoms. That family member is now undergoing testing for COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.

There is no evidence that the family member has COVID-19, but Compass is smart to err on the side of caution. And if anyone wants to see what a multitude of health experts and epidemiologists recommend, click here. And yes, practice social distancing.

Company officials say they have also been deep cleaning the office more than usual, several times a week, and will continue to do so.

Compass national also asked anyone returning from a CDC hot spot country to work from home for 14 days, anyone who feels slightly sick to work from home, and urges all agents to take advantage of its vast arsenal of video meeting tools in place of meetings.

Very good news: testing from the concerned party at Compass Real Estate Park Cities confirmed a negative diagnosis for COVID-19. That said, the Park Cities sales office has received thorough deep cleanings and all DFW Compass offices will continue to undergo routine and deep cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, utilizing hospital-grade, antibacterial cleaning products. 

On Monday, March 16th, Compass will be moving all staff in Dallas-Fort Worth to a recommended work from home (WFH) policy. For the next two weeks, all staff members are also recommended to WFH but will remain fully available to support Compass agents and businesses virtually. 

Many Other Brokerages Remain Open

While other firms remain open for the time being, they are proceeding cautiously with an eye on the news.

“Right now it is business as usual but that could change at any time,” Allie Beth Allman & Associates President of Sales Keith Conlon said. “Allie Beth and I are monitoring the situation from a local level and our parent company, Home Services, will direct us from a national standpoint”

Brigg-Freeman Sotheby’s Director of Editorial and Communications Rob Brinkley says his firm is monitoring the situation closely. They are taking all the necessary precautions as outlined by the CDC and are encouraging their agents to do the same.

Halo Realty remains open at this point. According to Executive Vice President Kevin Caskey, most of the firm’s agents work from home or one-on-one with clients.  Most open house activities will likely be curtailed for the time being.

Ebby Halliday Companies Offers Open House Guidelines

Ebby Halliday Companies — parent of Ebby Halliday Realtors, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, and Williams Trew — gave its agents a list of recommended precautions when conducting open houses.  

Protocols include requiring visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the house. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be made available at the entryway, with soap and disposable towels in the bathroom. Disposable tissues or gloves should also be provided for touching knobs, faucets, and switches.  It was also recommended that agents turn on lights and open the door ahead of time to minimize the need for additional physical contact.

Agents were instructed to sign-in guests themselves to keep them from touching other objects. It was also advised that they consider implementing a one-group-at-a-time policy to minimize interactions among visitors. Clients were encouraged to clean and disinfect their homes, particularly frequently touched areas like doorknobs, faucets, and switches after each open house.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to prove advice that aligns with CDC recommendations,” Ebby Halliday Director of Public Relations and Marketing Operations Steve Smith said.

Dallas Builders Association Cancels March Events

According to executive officer Phil Crone, Dallas Builders Association events are canceled for the remainder of this month. This includes the State of the Industry Summit, which has been rescheduled to Thursday, September 3. Other activities impacted include McSAM judging (will be done virtually), Metro East Happy Hour, Metro North, and After Hours. Committee meetings will be held virtually or rescheduled.

However, the Dallas Builders Association office will remain open.

“I am evaluating our options as it pertains to staffing levels and telecommuting,” Crone said in a letter to members. “Those decisions will come at a later time and will be based on the aforementioned guidance as well as the health and safety of our team and their loved ones.”

Champions School of Real Estate Moves All Classes Online

While no Champions School of Real Estate student, staff member, or instructor has been diagnosed with COVID-19, executives at the organization have closed their statewide brick-and-mortar campuses in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16. The campuses will reopen Monday, March 30. If Champions School’s Texas campuses have to remain closed for any longer, an announcement will be made by March 25. Students can check ChampionsSchool.com for updates.

Students registered to attend a class on campus during these two weeks will automatically be transferred to online. If online is not an option for them, they will have the following options:

  • Transfer their courses to ChampionsLive. ChampionsLive virtual classroom courses will go on as scheduled in the Champions School of Real Estate catalog. Students will be required to have access to a computer, a webcam, audio on their computer, and reliable WiFi. Textbooks are printable from home.
  • Reschedule their classroom courses for a future date.

Dallas Architecture Forum Postpones Upcoming Events

The Dallas Architecture Forum Lecture by Jason Long originally scheduled for March 25 has been postponed to Fall 2020. Additionally, The Forum’s Architectural Photography Panel originally scheduled for 7 April 2020 is also postponed to Fall 2020. 

The new Fall 2020 dates for these events will be announced and notifications sent once the new dates are finalized. Dallas Architecture Forum events currently scheduled to occur with dates after April 15 are still planned as scheduled.

Executive editor Joanna England and writer Joshua Baethge contributed to this report.

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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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