Yesterday marked a milestone in Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And Realtors®, their clients and the association have been impacted by so many of the changes that happened.
PAR’s General Counsel Hank Lerner outlined how the business restrictions lifting and recent mask order affect real estate professionals last week and the coronavirus resource page has been updated.
I believe the challenges we’ve faced over the past 16 months have shown what a true entrepreneurial spirit Realtors® have. We responded to changes that were thrust upon us in a short period of time and really demonstrated our professionalism and dedication to our clients. We found new technology and ways of assisting our clients. And as usual, we’ve worked to complete transactions for our clients, and have done so over the past year with many safety considerations in place.
I recently spoke with PAR’s 2020 President Bill Festa about the past year. He noted, “Everyone I came in contact with did a responsible job following the restrictions, wearing masks, cleaning after showings and limiting the number of people in homes. I’m impressed with how well the real estate profession adapted.”
One of the greatest challenges PAR faced was keeping members updated as quickly as possible as state and federal guidelines changed – sometimes daily. PAR’s leadership and staff worked diligently to provide you with a review of what those guidelines meant to you and how you do business. PAR posted countless articles and sent nearly 30 emails to directly address COVID-related changes. Our coronavirus webpage received nearly 150,000 unique pageviews making it the number one page on this website for the last 16 months.
PAR’s leadership came together, with little to no notice about changes being implemented to make decisions as quickly as possible. Bill said, “Everyone worked night and day to get information out to members and to contact legislators, the governor’s office, the Department of State, the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs and the State Real Estate Commission. Pennsylvania was one of the most restrictive states and it’s unfortunate that we had to be shutdown for months because our members proved that we could provide essential housing services while being safe and professional.”
PAR advocated on the industry’s behalf, sending Calls-to-Action on several bills pertaining to opening the industry. More than 8,000 responded to one Call-to-Action during this time. We are grateful that NAR’s Issues Mobilization Committee also provided funding for a campaign to appeal directly to the governor to reopen the industry. And the associations advocated for independent contractors to receive unemployment compensation.
Throughout the pandemic, PAR’s Legal Hotline handled more than 8,900 calls since March 1 last year, with nearly 2,000 COVID-related calls. They also worked with a special task force to create three forms specifically related to doing business in the pandemic.
Bill and I were also impressed with how local associations rose to the occasion and found innovative ways to reach out to members, provide continuing education and create new member experiences. We’re both extremely proud of how our local, state and national associations persevered through such a difficult and tumultuous time. We spent many hours on Zoom calls, talking virtually with members at their local association meetings.
As some of the restrictions are lifted, I think we’re working to find a balance of getting back to normal, while implementing practices necessary to maintain a safe environment for our fellow Realtors® and our clients.