In a major turn of events, the state of New York released guidance Thursday night classifying certain real estate activities as essential. Brokers and agents are now allowed to continue in-person residential property showings, appraisals and inspections, according to a directive from the Empire State Development Corp.
“Back-office real estate work is deemed essential, but please utilize telecommuting or work from home procedures to the maximum extent possible,” the agency added in its guidance, which the New York State Association of REALTORS shared on its website.
ESD also emphasized that even businesses considered essential must comply with guidance for maintaining a clean, safe work environment and urged social distancing as much as possible.
The clarification was welcome news to the state’s 25,000 licensed real estate brokers, who had scrambled to adjust to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s PAUSE order, which went into effect on March 23rd. Cuomo’s order directed all non-essential businesses to close their doors and sharply limited social interactions, leading many in the industry to look at options like virtual showings.
“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,” said New York State Association of REALTORS President Jennifer Stevenson in prepared remarks.
“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.”