VANCOUVER -- The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is "strongly recommending" against its members holding open houses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board, which has approximately 14,000 Metro Vancouver real estate agents as members, announced the recommendation Thursday. It has also suspended its rule requiring properties that are listed for sale to be made available for showings.

“Realtors want to do their part to help prevent the spread of illness in our communities and to meet the housing needs of residents in a responsible way,” said REBGV president Ashley Smith in a news release. “We’ve heard from some in the community who are unhappy that their realtors are not holding open houses. To those people, we ask for your understanding given the public health crisis we all face today.”

In its announcement, the REBGV urged anyone looking to buy or sell a home to "discuss COVID-19 preparedness with their realtor."

The board recommended that its members follow the instructions of health authorities for limiting the spread of the coronavirus, including staying home if you are sick or have recently returned from travel abroad, as well as washing hands regularly and practicing "social distancing."

It also offered specific advice to buyers and sellers of real estate during the pandemic. For sellers, the REBGV recommends taking "alternative approaches to open houses, such as virtual showings and other technology-based solutions."

For buyers, the board recommends limiting the number of people participating in a property viewing, sanitizing hands before and after the showing and avoiding touching doorknobs and other surfaces while inside the listed property.

As of Thursday, real estate boards on Vancouver Island and in the Fraser Valley had not joined the REBGV in recommending against open houses, though they have taken other measures in response to the pandemic.

Both the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board have closed their offices to the public and cancelled events and classes for members.

A spokesperson for the VIREB told CTV News Vancouver Island the organization would be discussing the possibility of a recommendation against open houses, similar to the one made by the Greater Vancouver board, at its meeting on Friday.