After notifying the New York State Association of Realtors in an email on Wednesday that home showings were considered “essential business,” Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) later clarified its statement on Thursday, saying that home showings should only be conducted virtually.
“Being an ‘essential’ industry does not mean business as usual — business can only be conducted if social distancing and other public health protocols are followed and all must be doing everything they can to help stop the spread,” Matthew Gorton, executive vice president of public affairs at ESDC, said in a statement. “For real estate, that means brokers can only transact business in their offices or show properties virtually, and anything else if off limits.”
“In saying that property showings are allowed, ESD’s guidance means that brokers can be in their offices or at properties to conduct virtual/online showings,” ESDC’s statement said.
ESDC’s initial email to Realtors on Wednesday had only stated that residential home and commercial office showings, home inspections and residential appraisers were considered “essential,” without yet qualifying that home showings should be conducted virtually.
Confusion about Wednesday’s guidance spurred the Real Estate Board of New York to send communication to members following the statement that the guidelines were “not yet final” and that “all previous executive orders and guidelines remain in effect.”
“It caused quite a panic amongst our agents who have all been instructed to follow safety guidance and operate virtually during this crisis,” Pam Liebman, CEO of the Corcoran Group, told the Real Deal.
Following the clarification about only conducting showings virtually, Liebman said she was “relieved” that the guidance put “health and safety first.”