Each day during this COVID-19 pandemic brings more updates and changes.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency updated the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce advisory list. At that time, PAR learned the advisory list now includes residential and commercial real estate services. These federal guidelines are considered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) when making their decisions on waivers. PAR reached out to Gov. Wolf’s office to immediately request that real estate services be re-classified as life-sustaining in Pennsylvania, and several legislators have reached out requesting the same. To be clear, our request is not for a return to business as usual. The world has changed, and our industry will need to change as well.
If this request is granted, PAR is committed to working with the administration and other related industries to develop a comprehensive safety and risk-mitigation strategy for moving the industry forward in a manner that protects the community and those involved in providing and receiving real estate services. Our goal is to minimize in-person services wherever possible and implement appropriate sanitation and social distancing practices where such in-person services are necessary.
At this time, we haven’t heard from the governor’s office, so real estate remains classified as a non-life-sustaining business in Pennsylvania and Realtors® should not be conducting business outside of their homes. From the beginning, PAR has urged members to follow the governor’s order. While some states have allowed certain in-person real estate activities to continue with strict guidelines and limited services, Pennsylvania has not. PAR is working to find a comprehensive solution that is safe for consumers and members, while recognizing that the need for housing is essential to many.
We’ve heard from hundreds of members, many of whom have conflicting ideas of how the industry should move forward. Some believe the industry should continue operating as if nothing has changed, some believe that the responsible thing to do is to stay at home, and others believe there is an option somewhere in between.
As leaders of the association, we are asked to advance the organization in a manner that is consistent with our mission statement and organizational values. PAR’s mission is to protect private property rights, facilitate a consistent and reliable marketplace and promote the professional, ethical and successful practice of real estate.
Unfortunately, the real estate market in the commonwealth is hardly consistent or reliable given the current situation we find ourselves in. Our goal in submitting our letter to the governor is to have a seat at the table and begin the dialogue on how we can best protect consumers, our members and everyone’s family as they address their housing needs. As always, we will do our best to provide you with the most up-to date information we have.
On another topic, we’re pleased that the National Association of Realtors® was successful in having independent contractors included in The CARES Act. NAR published a comprehensive guide to the $2 trillion, 880-page bill to explain the many benefits secured in this package.
We have received many questions about how real estate licensees can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Though the program was established through federal legislation, it must be implemented at the state level and Pennsylvania does not yet have its program up and running. PAR will provide guidance to members via email, PAR’s website and social media channels.
For the most up-to-date information, be sure to continue to visit PARealtors.org/coronavirus for answers to the most pressing questions.