The Central Penn Business Journal writes " Wolf says real estate industry can return to work"

Posted on 5/20/2020 by in News

By: Justin Henry

Real estate businesses and workers are allowed to resume operations across the state under industry-specific social distancing guidelines, the Wolf administration announced Tuesday afternoon. This amendment to the statewide closure of “non-life-sustaining businesses” goes into effect immediately.

“This industry [real estate] impacts numerous types of businesses and Pennsylvania homebuyers who are in the process of, or considering, purchasing a home,” Wolf said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s critical that these businesses, regardless of whether they are in red phase or yellow phase counties, strictly adhere to all appropriate guidelines and guidance.”

The real estate industry is permitted to conduct in-person functions in counties categorized as yellow and red under the state’s three-phase reopening plan, as long as companies and workers observe newly released guidelines from Wolf administration officials. The guidelines state that when a county turns green, its businesses do not have to follow the guidelines any longer but will be subject to more general statewide regulations set forth by state officials for safely reopening commerce in the commonwealth.

The latest revision to the governor’s plan to reopen the commonwealth’s economy comes after weeks of lawmakers and private sector trade groups pressuring the Wolf administration to exempt real estate work from statewide business closure orders, citing such exemptions in every U.S. state but Pennsylvania.

A bill even made it to the governor’s desk this week for approval that would have allowed real estate work to commence in red counties but Wolf vetoed it Tuesday, saying it would have infringed on his executive authority as governor, according to Wolf’s veto message.

New real estate industry guidelines require individuals to use separate transportation to property showings, schedule and record in-person meetings and office visits, limit in- person activities to no more than the real estate professional and two people inside the property and conduct settlements and closings procedures with remote technology when possible. Read the full guidance document here.

Under the guidelines, businesses and employees in real estate are prohibited from providing food during in-person functions and conducting group showings in person — open houses, broker opens and office tours included.

The guidelines state that “failure to strictly adhere to the requirements of this guidance may result in disciplinary actions up to and including suspension of licensure.”