ALBANY — Residential and commercial real estate agents, home inspectors and home appraisers are now considered “essential” under a new directive by the state Empire State Development agency.
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As with other businesses deemed essential by the ESD on March 20 those working in real estate must “comply with the guidance and directives for maintain 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.”
If deemed non-essential the businesses were ordered closed. A large number of businesses are allowed to remain open (see the list of essential businesses here) provided they can maintain the accepted social distance of six feet. As such, barbershops, hair salons, manicure shops and tattoo shops were ordered closed. Bars are also closed, but restaurants can continue operation provided they only offer take out.
Real estate agents can show properties provided they maintain the appropriate distance from the prospective buyer. They cannot make cold calls during a state of emergency, according to the New York State Association of Realtors.
All paperwork involved in closing a sale can still be done remotely including the required notarizations.
“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 in a statement. “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.”