Real estate work is essential, but showings must be virtual
Certain real estate work is still considered essential by New York, but showings cannot take place in-person, the state clarified on Thursday. In a notice to the New York State Association of Realtors, the Empire State Development earlier this week said home inspections, residential appraisals, back-office real estate work, and residential and commercial showings can continue during the coronavirus outbreak. But despite being newly categorized as essential, agents still cannot host traditional showings, as was previously reported.
Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “pause” order, which had closed all non-essential businesses last month, real estate workers, including appraisers and inspectors, can visit properties for their work. Brokers can also visit properties, but only to conduct online showings. Open houses are prohibited.
“Being an ‘essential’ industry does not mean business as usual–business can only be conducted if social distancing and other public health protocols are followed and all must be doing everything they can to help stop the spread,” Matthew Gorton, the executive vice president of public affairs and communication at Empire State Development, told the Real Deal in a statement.
“For real estate, that means brokers can only transact business in their offices or show properties virtually, and anything else is off limits.”
After the state’s reclassification of the industry, the Real Estate Board of New York, which represents the industry in the city, cautioned them against in-person showings. In an email, REMBY President James Whelan told members that “all previous executive orders and guidelines remain in effect” as the new guidance was not officially published by the state.
“Our industry has been given a great responsibility in this time of crisis to help meet the needs of New York’s residential and commercial property buyers and owners, and the overall welfare of the local and state economy,” Jennifer Stevenson, the president of NYSAR, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“But our priority must be to the safety of our customers, clients and indeed for ourselves, as we all continue to practice socially responsible distancing that is helping to flatten the curve during this national health crisis. Our mantra must be ‘safety first, work second.'”