The New Normal…is anything but


When the world anticipated the year 2000, some looked forward to tout living in two different millenniums while many others feared the changes. Part of human nature is a fear of the unknown. Some people mask their fear better than others. Millions of people sighed relief when they awoke January 1st, 2000, and now as we jump ahead twenty years, we are all waiting for that same sigh of relief. This time, it will not be in an instant, like the anticipated ball drop, it will be months and months of dreaded, yet hopeful anticipation.

Governor Cooper’s three-phase system makes sense to me, and IF all goes well, and IF‘ we’re good’, we should be able to be OPEN by the July 4th weekend, meaning we will be in Phase 3 by that time. (Does anyone else feel like we’ve been sent to our room?) During the three phases, we will be taking baby steps to cross the finish line, this is not a sprint. During Phase 1, we will be doing more of what we have been doing for the last six weeks, with the exception of stores being open, restaurants can have diners come inside to order take-out, parks are opening up, motels can start having guests with limited occupancy. At press time, the short-term rental dates are still a little fuzzy. We are taking tentative reservations in hopes of being able to fulfill them (FILL is the operative word). Phase 1 is sort of like having a driving permit. You can start to drive, but only if you follow other rules. Phase 2 relaxes the rules, even more, giving us a little more freedom. This is when we move to the restricted license, as we are being trusted to handle ourselves. You know, act like an adult. Phase 3 will be our full driver’s license. There are some people who make driving offenses, and I bet there will be plenty of people who make Phase 1, 2, or 3 offenses as well. We are human, after all.

Even though Macon County, as well as neighboring mountain communities, have had very few cases/hospitalizations/deaths due to the Coronavirus, we do not want to those statistics to spike, during any phase. We expect the public and visitors to our town and across the nation to respect and follow the rules that have been set. By the time we get to Phase 3, we will be in our new normal. There have always been rules to follow, we will just have to get used to following a few more. There are some things brought on by our sheltering-in-place that may stick around for a long time, if not forevermore. Certainly, people will be better at practicing better hygiene and hopefully, employers will encourage more working from home.

As far as real estate and home rentals go, there will be stricter protocols followed. During the first two phases (at the least), people viewing homes for sale will be asked not to touch anything,  not use the bathroom, and possibly to wear shoe covers and gloves, especially if the home is occupied by the owner, guest, or renter. For vacation rentals, rented through our office, stricter cleaning will be done using CDC/EPA approved disinfectants, and more time will be allowed for cleaning. There will be no back-to-back (aka same day check-in/check-out) rentals. Depending on the home, there will be a 24-hour to a 72-hour vacancy period between rentals. All our vacation rentals have a signed lease, but for 2020, there will be an additional page added as an amendment. To be in compliance with the Fair Housing Act, we are able to ask buyers/renters if they’ve been sick, have traveled out or in the country in the last xx days, as long as we ask all of them. In other words, we can’t treat a prospective buyer or renter coming from New York, China or is an alien from outer space any differently than any other buyer/renter.  The general public should treat anyone they come into contact with in our community (or the world) the same way. You know, the old ‘Do unto others’ thing. If we treat them as outsiders, like they’re infected with anything, we should expect them to treat us the same way. The wearing of masks is completely voluntary, but it makes sense, even if it’s to keep ourselves from touching our faces the-millions-of-times-every-day-we-never-knew-we-did.

The next 7-8 weeks will be the beginning of ‘the tale-to-tell’. Unfortunately, for this virus, since it’s a never-been-seen-before-not-the-common-cold-or-flu, type bug, hindsight is the best foresight for the next time. If you’re not too dizzy after that last statement, grab your Magic-8 ball, because I hear crystal balls are on backorder along with toilet paper. The new normal. I can’t wait.





Jeannie and Tucker Chambers are owners/brokers of Chambers Realty & Vacation Rentals at 401 N. Fifth Street in Highlands. Call or come by, and at a safe distance, we can discuss your real estate needs.