I wanted to provide you all with an update on PAR’s latest activities.
Let me first thank all of you who responded to PAR’s call-to-action. In less than 24 hours, we sent a record number of emails to legislators – nearly 8,000! We asked legislators to support Senate Bill 613, as amended, and the bill passed the House yesterday. The legislation would require Pennsylvania to follow federal guidelines for Critical Infrastructure Workers as amended within the Critical Infrastructure Guidelines released on March 28, 2020 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The bill will need to return to the Senate for another vote, which may be as early as today.
Industry Waiver Request
PAR received an official denial from the governor’s office on April 11 regarding our initial waiver request to reclassify real estate services as life-sustaining. We filed a request for a waiver on March 20 after the shutdown was announced.
Amicus Brief Filing
PAR had previously filed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit filed against Gov. Tom Wolf. The lawsuit is on behalf of several businesses, which have been impacted by the arbitrary and unclear rules under the governor’s closure order issued last month, and our brief specifically asked the court to consider an order that would reclassify real estate as a life-sustaining business. We learned on Monday, April 13, that the PA Supreme Court decided in favor of the state. Though the specific reclassification issues in our brief (and in another filed by homebuilders’ associations) were not explicitly addressed, those issues are no longer in front of the court since the underlying case was denied. PAR is continuing to assess whether further legal actions in some other venue may be prudent.
Guidance from Department of State
PAR notified you on Friday that additional guidance issued by the Department of State, now permits limited in-person property inspections, appraisals, final walk-throughs and title insurance activities only for residential real estate resale transactions that were under agreement on or before March 18, 2020. We believe there are additional inconsistencies in the guidance and PAR is sending a list of those to the Department of State to gain further clarification.
As we talk with members across the state, we are hearing more stories about how the governor’s orders are affecting consumers and their ability to gain housing. These stories are gaining media exposure across the state, which underscores our key message to the administration and legislators. A number of people find themselves in shaky housing circumstances given the current order. The association, its leaders and staff remain committed to our mission of protecting private property rights, facilitating a consistent and reliable marketplace and promoting the professional, ethical and successful practice of real estate. We continue to advocate for you at every level.