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PAR Outlines Discrepancies in State-Issued Guidance

By: Kim Shindle on in

PAR has sent a detailed outline to Governor Tom Wolf, highlighting the inconsistent and arbitrary guidance the state has provided for the real estate industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PAR President Bill Festa noted that the state has issued stricter requirements for buyers, sellers and real estate professionals. The outline points out that the state has given multiple inconsistent guidelines for the real estate industry that offer conflicting mandates, while other industries like construction and automobile sales, have been given detailed and coherent rules that are able to be followed.

“The numerous discrepancies in these state-issued guidelines have placed an onerous burden on consumers and the real estate professionals who work with them,” Festa said. “It’s ridiculous that in areas that have started to reopen, the state is requiring personal protective equipment for real estate businesses that exceeds what other industries are required to do and what is recommended by the CDC and World Health Organization.”

The state has also limited real estate activities to only two people at a time in a property, while allowing contractors performing repairs or renovations in an occupied home can have four workers at the property, plus the residents.

“Guidelines for in-person real estate should be consistent with other professions and allow at least four people in a property, while practicing social distancing,” Festa said. “The governor’s office refuses to discuss how finding shelter is life-sustaining to consumers.”

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that still continues to shut down most in-person real estate activities for the vast majority of Pennsylvanians during the pandemic. Every other state in the country has recognized that real estate professionals provide a life-sustaining service and that housing is a vital part of people’s lives as well as the economy.

“The governor’s unreasonable restrictions have created a harmful situation for real estate professionals and consumers,” Festa said. “The shutdown restrictions have created a marketplace of chaos for consumers and Realtors®.  Consumers are reaching out to our members and the association, asking for advice on how they can buy, sell or rent a home during the state’s incredibly restrictive shutdown. They’re experiencing financial hardships and are essentially in limbo, because important in-person services are prohibited for most real estate transactions.”

PAR has been encouraging the state’s General Assembly to pass House Bill 2412 (Polinchock) or Senate Bill 1135 (Boscola), both of which recognize real estate as a life-sustaining business and would allow real estate transactions to occur with safety protocols in every county of the commonwealth.

PAR also said the state has failed to recognize a large sector of the real estate industry, ignoring the commercial and property management portions when issuing its guidance.

“The association believes that where in-person real estate activities are allowed, all residential, commercial and rental transactions should be permitted and regulated in a similar manner,” he added. “The Department of State has consistently issued guidance that completely ignores a sizable segment of the industry.”

“Our members and the association hear heart-breaking stories from consumers because of their housing uncertainty and financial hardships,” Festa added. “It’s outrageous that a majority of Pennsylvanians continue to be restricted from purchasing a home where they want to live.”

Is the Pandemic Driving More People to the Suburbs?

“We see lingering effects of the coronavirus on shopping behavior and preferences. In the Northeast, especially, people are now as likely as before the pandemic to be looking for a home in a market that’s not where they currently live. However, those looking elsewhere are much more likely to be looking in smaller, nearby markets,” said realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale.

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