Residential Real Estate is Declared an Essential Service in the U.S.

What this means for you and your business

Prior to last weekend, debates were rampant about whether or not residential real estate is an “essential service” under the new COVID-19 regulations.

On Saturday, March 28th, the decision was made:

Yes, it is.

The updated list of essential services – residential real estate is on it

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced its decision to make residential real estate part of the updated list of essential services during the coronavirus crisis. As of today, this now includes residential and commercial real estate, as well as settlement services.

It’s important to note that while this is a federal list, real estate licensees are and will continue to be governed by the orders of their specific state, city and county. So then, if the area in which you practice is under greater restrictions in terms of essential services or activities, it is these orders you must abide by.

Economic impact

While some may still be pondering whether or not real estate is, in fact, an essential service, the decision could fare well in the end given the industry’s footprint on people’s lives and the U.S. economy. When you factor in real estate, rentals and leasing, we’re talking about an industry that accounts for 9.5 million jobs. This sector provides homes and job opportunities for millions of Americans, making it a huge driver of the economy.

To understand why the industry received its “essential” status, consider this: on average, each March there are anywhere from 400,000 to 460,000 homes in pending status throughout the United States. If real estate was deemed to be unessential, this would leave a large number of Americans caught right in the middle of a legal transaction without the faintest idea of what would happen next. What would become of their legal contracts in place? Where would their financial commitments land? And most critically, where would these people live?

Changing how you do business

Just because the U.S. government has now officially declared real estate as an essential service, doesn’t mean you’re still able to provide that service just the same as you always have. Far from it. Latest counts from the New York Times indicate that at least 294 million people in at least 37 states, 74 counties, 14 cities, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been urged to stay home. The complicated part is that these stay-at-home orders look different from place to place, meaning it’s the responsibility of the real estate professional to determine what specific rules apply to them. And then the next most logical step is to adapt and adjust your business to thrive within those rules.

Bottom line: your top priority must remain on the safety of both yourself and those around you. The National Association of Realtors developed a guide to educate real estate professionals about recommended procedures and precautions in the industry. The California Association of REALTORS® also published its own recommendations, which included:

  • Practice social distancing
    Request that your clients leave their home or stand at least 6 feet away from you and/or your team. Do your best not to touch any surfaces while you are inside any home. If you do, disinfect the surface right away.
  • Wash your hands
    Before you enter a home, wash your hands. After you leave a home, wash your hands. Refrain from handshakes. And if you or anyone in your own home is or has been sick with any form of cold or flu, do not enter anyone else’s home.
  • Request that inspectors wear hazmat suits
    When you book your home inspector, request that they wear their hazmat suit for the full duration of the inspection. (They likely already have one.)
  • Use virtual and 3D software
    Take advantage of live, virtual showings software and 3D virtual tours to avoid in-person meetings, while still gaining an excellent view and understanding of different homes with your clients.

An opportunity to improve and advance

There’s no question that the real estate industry is facing a long list of challenges and changes right now. According to many experts, this is the first real opportunity in a long time for agents to improve their businesses, separate themselves from the pack and ramp up their marketing. Given the seismic shift towards online real estate services, (in just one week tech-focused brokerage, Redfin, reported a 494% increase in requests for video home tours led by agents), now is the time for licensees to analyze their spending, devise a plan moving forward and capitalize on new, likely lasting, trends in the market.

While other competitors may be slowing down, pausing and taking a more backseat approach to their work, you can be organizing, strategizing and growing your online presence in the market. Through our real estate CRM, IXACT Contact, you can be part of the next generation of successful real estate brokers and agents.

Complementing and supporting the new online surge in the real estate industry, through IXACT Contact you can:

  • Organize and manage all your contacts – new and old
  • Fully automate your marketing efforts
  • Implement email and text marketing campaigns
  • Systematize your social media activity
  • Keep in touch in a focused, personalized way
  • Properly and effectively nurture and convert your leads into sales
  • Spruce up your online presence with a mobile friendly, fully branded agent website (included)

We’re all in this together.

By first focusing on your powerful list of contacts, IXACT Contact can help you start reconnecting with past clients and helping people in all kinds of situations from a heartfelt position of sympathy and understanding.