Governor Tom Wolf today announced that starting today, businesses and employees in the real estate industry may conduct limited business-related activities statewide and provided guidance for this industry to operate in red phase and yellow phase counties.
The guidance can be found HERE
Per the newly released guidance, all businesses in the real estate industry are permitted to conduct in-person operations for properties located in counties which have designated as being in the Red and Yellow phases, so long as they strictly
adhere to the requirements of this guidance. In counties designated as in the Green Phase, businesses will no longer be required to follow this guidance, and will be subject only to general statewide guidance.
Businesses in the real estate industry mentioned in the guidance are below:
- real estate professionals,
- settlement service providers,
- escrow officers,
- home inspectors,
- mortgage loan originators,
- underwriters, and
- other necessary office personnel including IT professionals,
- and back office staff necessary to maintain office operations
This guidance supersedes and replaces the Limited Guidance for Real Estate Professionals, Appraisers, Notaries, Title Companies, and Home Inspectors (as revised) issued by the Department of State on April 28, 2020.
The list of encouraged and mandates measures employees (I assume they also mean independent contractors) are listed below and can be found HERE.
All businesses and employees in the real estate industry authorized to conduct in-person activities pursuant to this guidance must do the following:
- Follow all applicable provisions of the Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public, available here, including, but not limited to, telework requirements, provisions requiring that every person present at a work site, business location, or property offered for sale, wear masks/face coverings, and provisions requiring the establishment of protocols for execution upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Utilize separate transportation to property showings and all other in-person activities.
- Schedule in-person office visits, property showings, appraisals, inspections, final walk-throughs, and title insurance activities by appointment and maintain records of all appointments, including contact
information for all participants. Where possible, utilize unoccupied model homes for in-person showings.
- Limit in-person activities to no more than the real estate professional and two people inside a property at any time, exercising appropriate social distancing.
- When conducting settlements/closings utilize remote notary, powers of attorney (POA) or the exchange of contract documents electronically or by mail wherever possible. Where it is not possible to conduct settlement/ closing via remote notary or POA, attendance in-person must be limited to
required signatories and their legal counsel or real estate professional only, and steps to preserve social distancing must be followed to the maximum extent possible. Advance copies of documents should be provided for review prior to the settlement date, wherever possible.
- In keeping with the Guidance for Businesses, where real estate businesses can conduct operations, including particularly office functions, by telework, they must do so.
All businesses and employees in the real estate industry authorized to conduct in-person activities pursuant to this guidance are encouraged to do the following:
- Minimize in-person activities, and minimize attendance to only the most critical individuals, while maintaining social distancing in all in-person interactions.
- Provide sellers with relevant up-to-date safety information and protocols for cleaning and sanitizing properties and discuss the benefits and risks of allowing in-person activities.
- Utilize electronic marketing as much as possible, including virtual tours, virtual showings and virtual open houses. Any marketing material, including brochures, flyers, business cards, etc. should be provided virtually or by mail where possible.
- Provide all individuals who will be present for in-person real estate activities with a verbal health screening prior to every in-person activity and do not allow in-person access to properties where the responses indicate actual or likely exposure.
- Stagger scheduling of property showings by thirty minutes or more.
- Avoid physical contact within the property by staging in advance to prevent the need for subsequent interaction with items such as lights, interior doors, drapes and blinds. Where physical contact is necessary, ensure that surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, etc. are sanitized prior to the next showing or return of sellers.
- Minimize the time spent in the property by having discussions, including contract negotiations, with buyers away from the property or model homes via remote means (email, video conference, telephone, etc.) if possible. Model homes (and offices in model homes) may be open, but appointments with clients must be made in advance and all safety orders must be observed (including wearing masks on site).
All businesses and employees in the real estate industry authorized to conduct in-person activities pursuant to this guidance are prohibited from doing the following:
- Providing food during in-person activities;
- Conducting in-person group showings for either potential buyers or real estate professionals, including open houses, broker opens or office tours.
Businesses that have questions about the following topics may email the following resource accounts:
• Appraisals: email@example.com
• Real Estate Professionals: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Banking and lending issues: email@example.com
Please contact our COVID19 response team with questions or issues at firstname.lastname@example.org.