Is Real Estate an Essential Service?
On Monday, March 30th, all three regions of the DMV went under stay-at-home orders. These orders, which are intended to limit the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, include restricting travel and business except for essential services. This order has led a lot of people confused about what they can and cannot do during these uncertain times, and whether or not they can take care of their real estate needs during the stay-at-home order.
The truth is, a lot of real estate agents don’t know either. And for the agents who don’t have the resources to protect their clients — both financially and physically — this means that they are unable to help people who want or need to make real estate moves right now.
This is especially unfortunate for home buyers and sellers, because the market is in a unique situation right now. The people who remain in the market are highly motivated to solve their real estate needs, which means that they can have better leverage and get good deals on their homes. Combined with the historic lows for mortgage rates, this means that a lot of people want to use this market status to buy a new home or move up to a more valuable home.
The question still remains, however: is real estate an essential service? Can real estate agents help clients take care of their needs without worrying about the stay-at-home orders in DC, Maryland, and Virginia?
Let’s break it down by region.
Is Real Estate an Essential Service in Virginia?
Virgina’s stay-at-home order came in the early afternoon of March 30th, after the state government of Maryland had issued theirs. In general, the language of this order (Executive Order 53) is somewhat vague — because it focuses on retail businesses, rather than professional businesses.
The order does not define whether or not real estate is an essential service. However, it also does not restrict professional businesses from staying open — which means that Virginia real estate agents may still work and help their clients during the stay-at-home order. Real estate professionals, like everyone else, are encouraged to work remotely as much as possible, to preserve social distancing guidelines. When telework is not feasible, Virginia agents are to take extra caution with sanitation and never gather in groups larger than 10.
Virginia’s regulations are more open than in other places — but real estate agents should still aim to do their business as much as possible, to protect themselves and their clients.
Is Real Estate Essential in DC?
In DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s original order, real estate offices were not deemed essential — however, this does not prevent agents from helping their clients. As clarified in that same order’s FAQ, real estate agents can still work their jobs from home, and all home closings are permitted as part of essential residential services. One important thing to note is that traditional open houses are forbidden under DC’s ordinance.
The order also calls for DC agents to telework as much as possible, and to embrace virtual and online tools to help their clients sell and buy homes. It is important to note that this order does not prevent agents from hosting individual showings, so long as they are kept under 10 people. So even though DC agents cannot host open houses, they can still show homes to interested buyers — as long as the seller is comfortable with this.
Is Real Estate Essential in Maryland?
The Maryland Association of REALTORS® is operating as normal, because Mayor Larry Hogan’s order does not restrict real estate professionals from continuing their work. As with DC and Virginia, Maryland real estate agents are encouraged to work remotely as much as possible, and to take extra precautions to protect themselves and their clients.
Though there are states that have labeled real estate services as non-essential, at least one major federal organization has strongly suggested that agents be allowed to continue their work. This is due in large part to the importance of real estate to the general health of the economy. So far, all three regions of the DMV have elected to allow real estate agents to work, albeit with the request that they work from home.
What does this mean for you?
For many real estate teams in the DMV, the coming months will be very slow — because they do not have the tools that they would require to help you with your real estate needs. But at the Keri Shull Team, your financial and physical health is our top priority. That’s why we created a system of Virtual Consultations — so we can learn everything that we need to know to help you buy or sell a home while maintaining complete peace of mind for you. We also are taking extra precautions on all meetings and home showings, including limiting the number of people to match social distancing guidelines and offer sanitizer, masks, and other protective equipment to anyone who wants them.
Oftentimes, you simply can’t wait to solve your real estate needs. If you need to buy or sell a home now, or want to learn more about how the current market could affect your needs, then contact the Keri Shull Team today! Just click here to schedule a Virtual Buying Consultation with one of our buying experts, or click here to schedule a Virtual Selling Consultation with our home value team.
If you would prefer to meet in person, we can also accommodate that — just click here to schedule a time to meet!