Contrary to prior recommendations made in mid-March, the Cuomo administration announced on Wednesday that in-person home showings would be allowed to resume across New York state, according to the Real Deal.
While following social distancing recommendations of six feet of space between people, the announcement indicated that residential and commercial showings would once again be permitted. At a previous press conference on March 20, Cuomo had said, “By my mandate, you couldn’t even have your real estate agent out showing the apartment.”
However, per an email on Wednesday the Real Deal cited to the New York State Association of Realtors from Empire State Development, Empire State Development wrote, “The following functions of real estate and/or Realtors are considered essential: residential home and commercial office showings; home inspections; and residential appraisers.”
Although a spokesperson for Empire State Development confirmed these classifications to the Real Deal — while noting that the agency encouraged virtual showings and working remotely — information released on Thursday by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) suggests that the new guidelines are not yet final.
“As you know, there were a number of announcements made yesterday evening indicating that certain activities conducted by real estate licensees have now been deemed essential business,” James Whelan, president of REBNY, said in an email to subscribers on Thursday.
“Please note: these guidelines are not yet final and have not been published by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC),” Whelan continued. “All previous executive orders and guidelines remain in effect. We are monitoring this closely and will provide an update as soon as we know more from our authorities.”
When asked for clarification, REBNY’s press team directed Inman to a statement from Whelan: “Our understanding is that these guidelines have not been published by ESDC and are not final. The health and safety of New Yorkers must remain paramount.”
In response to the initial announcements that home showings would continue, Eddie Shapiro, founder of Nest Seekers International, expressed cautious optimism.
“On the one hand, this is indeed great news,” Shapiro said. “On the other hand, there are still great challenges we continue to face with many, if not most, buildings individually not allowing access and showings. Shelter in place instructions also continue to be a struggle both mentally and physically for agents, as well as prospective buyers.”
Update on April 3: The ESCD clarified its position on Thursday afternoon, saying that home showings should only be conducted virtually.