As more states in the US go under lock-down to combat the spread of COVID-19, local governments and citizens alike have begun discussing what is and isn't considered an essential service. In the case of the US, an essential services may refer to a class of occupations that have been selected by a government to have special restrictions in regard to labor actions such as not being allowed to legally strike.
Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's (CISA) Director, Christopher Krebs has announced that real estate services will be considered essential as part of the country's 'critical infrastructure'.
The CISA has released a list of the following real estate professionals and services that are considered essential during this time:
- Settlement, Residential and commercial real estate services.
- Those performing title search, notary, and recording services in support of mortgage and real estate services and transactions in government offices.
- Available housing leasing services.
- Those who answer emergency 'at-home' situations requiring immediate attention, as well as facilitate the reception of deliveries and mail.
- Housing construction related activities to ensure additional units to answer housing shortage.
- The construction of housing, including inspections, permitting and plan review services.
This is welcomed news to companies like the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). The trade association estimated that every two home sales generate one job in the US. Keeping real estate practices in place during a time when furloughs and mass layoffs are commonplace can offer a breath of relief to professionals in the real estate industry.
In Spain, the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that the only essential services permitted while his country battles the virus, will be related to manufacturing, production and distribution of all 'essential' basic products and services, and did not mention real estate in the list of services that will continue to operate at this time.
In England, when it comes to real estate services and activities, only home repairs and anything having to do with maintenance are considered essential, moving forward.
The drop in listings and real estate transactions has already impacted the real estate industry in the last month, with numbers on the decline in major countries all over the globe. Now, with countries enacting stay-at-home orders, real estate companies are being hit at the other end, as well. The coming weeks will continue to shift the market and more insights will trickle in as everyone works around the limitations that come with the Coronavirus pandemic.