Realtors ‘essential business’ in New York during COVID-19

Shortly after the guidelines were updated to allow some real estate activities to resume, a new update was released on Friday.

The latest directive from New York’s Empire State Development has updated its guidelines to allow real estate brokers to market homes virtually only.

The New York State Realtors Association said “licensees should conduct the viewing alone and use a tool such as video conferencing with the buyer or tenant.”

Empire State Development said additional guidance will be provided to further clarify the permitted activities brokers are allowed to conduct while New York State’s PAUSE measures remain in place.

As lohud.com reported on Thursday, real estate brokers, back office workers and appraisers will be allowed to resume business in New York State amid the coronavirus.

The state’s Empire State Development Agency provided further guidance to Governor Andrew Cumo’s executive order that deemed residential and commercial real estate brokers a non-essential business on March 20 and ordered them to shut down the operations.

New ESD guidelines will allow brokers and the industry to resume home visits, home inspections and residential appraisals amid “New York on PAUSE” measures put in place due to the coronavirus.

Realtors and brokers are still required to comply with state Department of Health guidelines, according to the New York State Association of Realtors. Empire State Development also said social distancing must be enforced.

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“Our priority must be the safety of our customers, our customers and even ourselves, as we all continue to practice socially responsible distancing which is helping to flatten the curve during this national health crisis,” said Jennifer Stevenson, President from NYSAR. “Our industry has been entrusted with a great responsibility during this time of crisis to help meet the needs of New York’s residential and commercial property buyers and owners, and the general well-being of the local economy and community. State.”

Empire State Development provided additional guidance for projections only. The new measures will not affect Open Houses, which have been temporarily banned by New York on PAUSE.

The state agency’s new guidelines came April 1, less than two weeks after brokers were deemed a non-essential business and ordered to halt operations.

The agency’s new guidelines were also released two days after all affordable housing construction in the state was deemed essential activity and allowed to continue operating amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Empire State has agreed to allow developers, contractors and vendors to resume work on private development sites as long as the projects include affordable housing. But the measure would have allowed developers to complete construction without allowing brokers to market the residences.

Buying a house during a pandemic

As previously reported by The Journal News/lohud, the coronavirus outbreak has come to Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley during a fairly positive run for the residential market.

For homes under $1 million, experts said an average seller discount of nearly 20% off the listing price drew buyers to the lower Hudson Valley in January and February.

Further action by the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates was expected to keep buyers in the market for mortgages and refinances.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said mortgage application volume — the number of new mortgage and refinance applications — rose 15.3% on a weekly basis from March 21-27 in the United States.

But in New York, housing purchase requests from March 21-27 were 18.1% lower than a week earlier. The change in home buying inquiries also represented a 33.6% decrease in inquiries compared to the same week in 2019.

“Purchase requests are down more than 10% [nationwide]and after double-digit annual growth at the start of 2020, activity has fallen from last year’s pace for two consecutive weeks,” said MBA’s Joel Kan. “Mortgage rates and applications continue to experience significant volatility due to the economic and financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Mario Marroquin covers real estate and economic development. Click here to see his latest stories. He can be reached at [email protected] or @mars3vega

Kristan F. Talley