Pennsylvania was the only state where the real estate business was deemed nonessential. Social distancing guidelines were implemented to reduce the threat of the virus.
Now, most Western Pennsylvania counties permit face-to-face real estate activities. Nevertheless, in-person interactions in Philadelphia are still banned.
Gov. Wolf’s executive order states that real estate professionals can resume face-to-face transactions as long as they follow CDC guidelines. However, in-person activities should still be conducted remotely whenever possible.
Agents and prospective buyers must travel to the home separately. Appointments must be at least 30 minutes apart, and agents must minimize the time spent inside the house.
Viewings and walk-throughs will be by appointment only. One real estate agent and two viewers are allowed in the house together. Touching common surfaces like doorknobs is prohibited.
To manage social distancing protocols, agents have offered virtual real estate services, and the market has taken a hit because of it. Home sales are depressed, and buyers are hesitant to purchase properties because of coronavirus uncertainty.
Those shopping for homes find the lack of in-person interaction uncomfortable. People don’t want to buy properties they can’t walk through or get a feel for. As a result, they’ve gotten stuck in financially dangerous situations because they’re unable to move ahead with important transactions.
According to Bill Festa, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, easing restrictions is unlikely to fix things immediately. It’s going to take time, he predicts, but at least the recovery can begin.
State Rep. Todd Polinchock (R-Bucks) had already introduced a bill to reopen Pennsylvania real estate businesses. On the same day the executive order was issued, Gov. Wolf vetoed Polinchock’s bill for being lax on safety protocols.
Polinchock is grateful that realtors in the commonwealth can finally get back to basics. Many businesses have been crippled by this shutdown, Polinchock adds. It’s not just about realtors.
“It is a great relief to know that we are giving back the citizens of our state one of the most important necessities they have, one that should never have been taken away in the first place,” Rep. Polinchock said.
The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors has lobbied Pennsylvania to reopen the real estate business on behalf of its 35,000 members.