COVID-19: Real Estate Considered Essential Service

UPDATE 4/1/2020: Professional photographers and stagers/movers are now allowed, as long as they follow the rule of no more than two people onsite at a time and are by appointment.

On March 28th, 2020, new guidelines for real estate brokers were released by Governer Inslee’s office that took real estate from a non-essential business to essential. However, there are some restrictions still in place (and rightfully so), so if you’re thinking about buying or selling right now we’ll break down the rules for you.

Viewing and Buying a Home

The biggest change to the ordinance is that real estate brokers can now show properties in person, where we couldn’t before. While we would prefer to do all tours virtually, up to two people at a time can see a home in person, by appointment. One of those two people is the real estate broker, so if a couple or family is house-hunting, only one family member at a time can view the house. Appointments for showings are to be staggered, so that there’s no potential overlap. Finally, the broker and client must follow the 6′ rule during the showing.

Along with that, we always use best practices of washing hands frequently, using sanitizer and gloves where applicable, and limiting touching of surfaces.

Once you’ve decided to make a purchase, not much changes. Lenders, appraisers and title/escrow offices are permitted to work. Home inspections are also still permitted, again with a maximum of two people at the property (the broker and inspector). Many inspectors have added video calling to their job so that buyers can be “present” to discuss potential issues.

Selling a Home

If you’re thinking of hitting the market with your home for sale, there are again a few guidelines. Brokers can do in-person listing presentations, as we often need to tour a home before giving a marketing plan and pricing strategy. We can also list homes on the NWMLS which syndicates out to other real estate resource websites.

We can, as brokers, place a temporary sign in your yard to show the home for sale. However, the professional sign companies who dig and install yard arm signs are not considered essential and cannot place those. Professional photographers and stagers are all deemed non-essential, but real estate brokers and sellers can take and use their own photos of the home.

Once listed, a home can be advertised as normal with the exception that Open Houses are not allowed.

Our Recommendation

Some of our clients cannot delay their sale or purchase – they have to move by a certain date, or relocate for any number of reasons. We are happy to assist in any way we are legally able to, following safe practices and adhering to every regulation.

That said, if you can hold off your move, we appreciate you doing your part to help flatten the curve by staying home. We have great respect for essential workers in the medical field, as well as grocery, pharmacy, delivery, restaurant workers, and everyone who is out there risking their health for those of us who don’t need to be. If you’re planning a move, now is a great time to get in touch so we can plan your next steps and be prepared to hit the ground running as soon as things return to normal.

Stay safe and healthy, Washington.

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