The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® presented testimony about how the COVID-19 pandemic shut down has affected the industry during a state Senate joint committee virtual hearing yesterday.
PAR President Bill Festa spoke on behalf of the association to a joint Senate hearing regarding the state’s COVID-19 response and impact, held by the Senate Economic & Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Tom Killion (R-Chester) and the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Regan (R-Cumberland).
Festa explained how the COVID-19 shut down has had a chilling effect on the housing industry in Pennsylvania. He noted that while emergency measures are necessary in the current crisis, Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that have restricted real estate services to this extent.
“While we’re fortunate that technology allows some aspects of the real estate industry to be able to be conducted virtually, the stay-at-home order has shut down many parts of the transaction,” Festa explained. “Realtors® are able to continue to call their clients, meet with them virtually and use electronic signatures to keep transactions moving. However, buyers can’t get home inspections or do final walk throughs of properties prior to closing. Additionally, several other aspects of the transaction are prohibited because they require in-person meetings.”
The association continues to hear countless stories from people trapped in the middle of the transaction process with individuals and families unable to obtain shelter or facing incredible financial difficulties.
Festa said, “The business shut down order is truly preventing Pennsylvanians’ ability to gain shelter. Pennsylvania Realtors® work with their clients through many of life’s milestones – the arrival of a new baby, a newly married couple, retirees looking to downsize, a couple going through a divorce, moving a family member to a long-term care facility or the loss of a loved one. Many of these circumstances require the buying and or selling of their homes. But across Pennsylvania, first-time homebuyers, single parents, new parents, families and retirees may be unable to ‘stay at home’ if they cannot secure their new home because of these orders.”
Others providing testimony included: the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the National Federation of Independent Businesses Pennsylvania, the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, Stuckey Automotive and School Express, Inc.