(This story has been updated to reflect clarification from New York state.)
New York state announced Wednesday that it will allow those in real estate to resume providing some services, such as in-person showings, appraisals and inspections, something that had been forbidden by New York’s stay-at-home order on March 22.
The Real Deal reported late Wednesday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration reversed its previous decision to prohibit these activities, stating in an email to the New York State Association of Realtors that, “The following functions of real estate and/or Realtors are considered essential: residential home and commercial office showings; home inspections; and residential appraisers.”
The governor’s office also clarified the essential nature of other real estate functions. “Back-office real estate work is deemed essential, but please utilize telecommuting or work-from-home procedures to the maximum extent possible.”
The directive allows these services to be performed in person, but noted that people needed to maintain social distancing, keeping six feet of separation between them.
The reversal follows a week of uncertainty across the nation as those in mortgage and real estate sort out what jobs are deemed essential — a designation that can differ by state, county or city. HousingWire has covered the implications for notaries and homebuilders, as well as real estate agents.
In the face of numerous challenges, lenders and real estate agents are working to find innovative ways to keep the wheels of the housing industry rolling, whether that’s virtual home tours, drive-by appraisals or remote notarizations.
In addition, the federal government has tried to remove some of the roadblocks the industry is facing in serving consumers, loosening standards on valuations, verification of income and employment and more.
New York City is now seen as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with more than 1,300 virus-related deaths reported as of April 1. Cuomo has been one of the most active and visible leaders in the country’s fight against the outbreak, extending stay-at-home orders, building emergency hospitals and calling out the federal government for its lack of support.
It remains to be seen if his reversal will trigger similar actions in other states.
The state of New York has clarified on Thursdya that real estate showings need to be done virtually.
Through virtual showings, brokers can visit properties to conduct the virtual showings and oversee transactions or signings at their offices, within social distancing protocols.