Real Estate classifed as an “essential service” by Bay Area counties; expanded social distancing orders apply
In response to increased cases of coronavirus in the Bay Area over the past two weeks, local counties* issued a joint press release today which includes updates to existing Bay-Area-wide COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates for all residents and a revised list of “Essential Services” which now includes residential real estate. Acceptable business practices for essential service providers, along with expanded health and safety restrictions have been instituted. All REALTORS®, Affiliates and their clients must comply (see County Health Services FAQ). CCAR leadership and staff continue to work with County officials to further refine and define these orders to better meet the unique needs of members and their clients. Ongoing updates will be provided.
In addition to naming real estate as an “essential service” this joint order extends the stay-in-place expiry date from April 7 until May 3, 2020, to further protect public health and preserve critical hospital capacity across the region. This new order, effective tonight, March 31st at 11:59 pm, supersedes the previous Contra Costa County order and serves as a supplement to Governor Newsom’s indefinite statewide stay-at-home order.
Important Guidelines for REALTORS®
While real estate has been classified as an “essential service” both locally and nationally,” it does not authorize a business-as-usual atmosphere. REALTORS® must follow strict industry-specific guidelines. Failure to comply is a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment and may result in discipline from State and other organizations.
Among the comprehensive list of guidelines set forth in the new multi-county order, the following orders pertain specifically to essential service providers—CCAR members, including real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies (updates will be provided on an ongoing basis):
– Residential viewings may only occur virtually, or if virtual viewing is not feasible and the residence is unoccupied, by appointment with no more than two visitors from the same household and one person showing the unit.
Guidelines for Clients & Customers
– Individuals may move residences only if it’s not possible to wait until after the Order expires. In other words, you can move if the move is already planned or if it’s necessary to maintain shelter, to stay safe, or to stay in a livable residence.
– Moving services that facilitate residential or commercial moves allowed by the order require mandatory social distancing for everyone, including essential workers.
– Arborists, landscapers, gardeners, and similar service professionals are essential businesses, but only to provide services necessary to maintain the habitability, sanitation, operation of the business or residence or for the safety of the residences, employees or the public. This means they can provide services for fire prevention, like weed abatement, but they cannot provide services that are cosmetic or that constitute general upkeep.
* Contra Costa, Alameda, Berkeley, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara