A Message on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Re-Designation of Real Estate Brokerage Services as "Essential"
March 29, 2020
These are extraordinary times. Since the California Association of REALTORS® (“CAR") communicated the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s re-designation of real estate brokerage services as “essential” on March 28, our Government Affairs team has been in touch with the offices of Governor Newsom and Mayor Breed for clarification. We believe it is vital to connect with the most senior elected officials at the state and local levels before making any recommendations to our membership.
Further, the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® ("SFAR") leadership team has met virtually, throughout the weekend, to discuss this significant development and its ramifications for our membership. Without a doubt, the safety of our members, clients, and larger community is the first priority. We take our role of providing guidance to our membership during this unprecedented crisis incredibly seriously.
Given this, while real estate brokerage services were re-designated “essential” at the Federal level, the current advice from CAR is as follows:
“[A]ll real estate licensees must take into account the health and safety of their clients and fellow licensees, and follow the existing protocols for protecting against the spread of COVID-19. If such health safeguards and protocols are not followed, the rule for the state could easily change to stop or restrict all real estate activity. To that end, in conformity with current health guidelines, real estate licensees should follow all CDC and local health mandates.
1. No open houses should be held.
2. Showings should be done virtually, if at all possible.”
The San Francisco Association of REALTORS® agrees.
Second, CAR will be updating its COVID-19 FAQ and more information on recommended best practices at www.carcovidupdates.org “as soon as practicable.” Until then, CAR’s current recommendations for providing brokerage services remain in place (read here). SFAR recommends members follow CAR’s current recommendations and its advice above.
Third, while real estate services have been added to the Federal list of essential services, the list also states it is “advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.” This means more restrictive directives can be issued by Governor Newsom or our Mayor and would control, and such directives can change at a moment’s notice.
Please expect further updates from us this week.
In the meantime, our advice is to stay home and stay safe. Conduct your real estate business virtually.
We are a strong community and if we stick together and act responsibly, we will emerge from this crisis even stronger.