BREAKING NEWS: Empire State Development Deems Some Facets of Residential, Commercial Real Estate as ‘Essential’

John Jordan | April 2020

ALBANY—Commercial and residential real estate brokers and agents received some welcome if not surprising news on April 1 when the Empire State Development Corp. clarified existing regulations, put in place in response to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic, and deemed residential and commercial showings and back office real estate work as “essential.”

The clarification therefore allows those facets of the real estate business to resume, according to an announcement by the New York State Association of Realtors release last night (April 1).

The ESD’s clarifications, which went into effect immediately, also deemed appraisal services and home inspections as essential.

Essential businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible, NYSAR noted.

Back-office real estate work is deemed essential, but NYSAR recommends firms utilize telecommuting or work from home procedures to the maximum extent possible.

“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 NYSAR President Jennifer Stevenson. “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.’”

NYSAR officials state that the clarification of the designations is a recognition by the state that real estate licensees, real estate home inspectors and real estate appraisers “provide a critical service to New York, which is vital to the wellbeing not only of New Yorkers but also for New York’s local and state economy.”

However, as affected businesses resume operations that were all but shut down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s prior orders, NYSAR reminds all its members that they must fully comply with governor’s “New York State on PAUSE” directive, which states that “essential businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible.”

The real estate industry, except for those undertaking limited virtual business, was all but shut down by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo effective 8 p.m. Sunday, March 22 in an attempt to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus.

For information on best practices and complying with the essential activities outlined by ESD, please visit the NYSAR COVID-19 FAQ’s or HGAR’s COVID-19 Resources.

Helpful information from the National Association of Realtors can also be found here.

 

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth