Although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared real estate an essential business in March, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf disagreed. On March 19, Gov. Wolf implemented state restrictions that included the prohibition of in-home showings and inspections.
However, on Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House passed House Bill 2412 in a vote of 125 to 77, which would allow real estate services to be uniformly conducted across the state, according to the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR). The bill would compel the secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to issue a waiver to restart all real estate-related activities, despite the industry’s classification by the governor as non-essential.
Now, the bill has moved on to the Senate for consideration.
“Yesterday was a big victory for families in the commonwealth in need of housing, as well as our Realtor professionals who are struggling in this pandemic,” Rep. Todd Polinchock (R-Bucks) and PAR’s president in 2016, said in a statement. “Passing HB 2412 displayed the legislature is confident that our practitioners can conduct business safely and per CDC guidelines, while helping Pennsylvania’s economy recover from the brink of devastation.”
During the week of April 20, PAR had issued a call-to-action to its members, appealing to them to contact their House representatives in support of the bill.
“With 8,500 emails to the legislature, your collective voice was heard loud and clear,” Rep. Polinchock said.
“We saw a tremendous response from Realtors in just a few days,” Bill Festa, president of PAR, said in a statement. “PAR is grateful to Rep. Polinchock and the other 124 state representatives who supported this bill.”
During the session the Department of State also issued further guidance on what kinds of in-person real estate activity is currently allowed and how the industry could expect to reopen regionally under Gov. Tom Wolf’s current red-yellow-green plan to begin a phased reopening of the state by region beginning on May 8.
“The association believes a fractured reopening of the real estate industry will continue to impede consumers’ abilities to purchase homes where they want to live,” Festa said. “Requiring the industry to reopen by region would create a very confusing situation for clients. We know that real estate is being conducted safely in almost every other state in the country. That’s why PAR will continue to support Rep. Polinchock’s efforts to pass HB 2412, which would allow for the uniform reopening of real estate across the state.”
If the bill passes and real estate activities are allowed to resume, real estate agents will still be required to follow federal social distancing and other precautionary practices as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).