The U.S. real estate community was united today in welcoming President Donald Trump’s decision to waive the Jones Act, effective for 10 days, to aid in Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria.

The Jones Act, formerly known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, dictates that all goods being delivered between U.S. ports be carried by American-owned and operated ships, which in effect means that Puerto Rico pays double the cost for goods from the U.S. mainland than neighboring foreign islands.

The waiver covers all items being shipped to the island.

“We were pleased to hear President Trump has temporarily waived the Jones Act shipping restrictions so that those in Puerto Rico can get greater access to the resources and assistance they need,” said William Brown, the president of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) today.

The challenges for Puerto Rico are daunting as it copes with the worst disaster in its history brought on by the unforgiving Hurricane Maria, which charted a direct course over the island a week ago. While the waiver will aid in getting supplies to the port, a bigger problem may be the transportation of goods to communities within Puerto Rico, which remains a major logistical struggle.

Coldwell Banker Heritage Homes’ Mike Ford, an executive committee member at NAR with strong connections to the Puerto Rico real estate community, applauded the move from President Trump and said he had spoken to members of the Puerto Rico Association of Realtors, who were very excited by the decision.

“It is absolutely wonderful news for Puerto Rico and I hope that a further extension is granted, and maybe that will get the resources to the island ,which will help it get back to some form of normal lifestyle,” Ford said.

Ivan Zavala, the CEO of Puerto Rico’s largest brokerage and past president of the Puerto Rico Association of Realtors, this week urged the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to lobby for the repeal of the Jones Act.

“The recent news on the Jones Act is one of the best things that has happened so far to our island, “ said the CEO of Reality Realty today.

Now his hope is all the materials needed to bring things back to normal, will arrive as soon as possible.

Meanwhile business goes on for the brokerage.

“We have been contacted by pharmaceutical companies, and local and federal agencies to supply residential and commercial spaces for their workers,” said Zavala.

“In our office, we have transformed a complete floor to accommodate 25 spaces for professionals.”

Email Gill South.

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