The number of days that have passed since the beginning of the New York on PAUSE (March 23, 2020)
Most of the functionality of the local real estate market has been restored under Phase 2 of the NY Forward reopening plan. Access to properties by all parties is now allowed.
We’ll have to wait-and-see the extent to which the public is willing to engage in house shopping and house buying as the market opens back up and the pandemic numbers drop down.
In terms of my predictions about Phase 2: I was wrong before I was right and then, in the end, I was partially right or partially wrong depending on how you look at it. Read all about it below.
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Phase 2 of NY Forward comes to the Finger Lakes Region and Rochester.
At a few minutes after 1:00 pm on Friday, May 29th Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Finger Lakes region - including the Metro Rochester area - would move to "Phase 2" of NY Forward, the governor's incremental plan to re-open the economy in New York State. The residential real estate sector in our area would be allowed to expand it's operations with certain notable limitations as of yesterday, Saturday, May 30th.
Here’s the executive summary of what’s allowed (with restrictions described below) in the residential real estate sector during Phase 2:
Download and read this file if you want to know all the gory details of Phase 2 as it relates to the real estate business.
A closer look at what’s allowed for residential real estate under Phase 2:
There are two main areas for you to understand about residential real estate during Phase 2: the administrative functions in real estate AND the interactions with real estate clients and the public at large. I'll very briefly touch on the administrative side before digging in on the new rules related to interacting with clients and the public.
With respect to the administrative side of the business all real estate companies must submit detailed plans for how they will operate and interact with each other, clients and the public. Offices staff must minimize interaction, wear masks, keep social distancing standards and sanitize everything in sight. Visitors on-site at real estate office are prohibited except when it cannot otherwise be avoided. COVID testing and contact tracing are embedded in the regulations. This phase should be implemented in steps over time rather than all-at-once.
What follows is a deeper dive into property showings and related activities:
Responsible Parties (real estate brokerage companies and agents) may conduct in-person property showings while adhering to social distancing and required PPE safety guidelines. The following measures must be followed:
Responsible Parties are encouraged not to show common building amenities in-person (e.g. gym, roof deck, pool).
Responsible Parties should encourage only one party (e.g. building inspector, home appraiser, prospective tenant/buyer, photographer, stager) to be allowed inside the property at a time. If more than one party is inside the property at the same time, 6 feet of distance must be maintained at all times between individuals, and face coverings must be worn.
Responsible Parties are encouraged, but not required, to conduct remote walkthroughs rather than in-person walkthroughs (e.g. recorded/live video), where possible.
Analysis, Musings & Reflections.
First, in my opinion, these changes open the real estate market up significantly. While market access and functionality may not be back to where it was on January 1st it’s pretty close. Now, the most significant impediment will be consumer fears/concerns. I expect the volume of listings and transactions to rise quickly. The market may well return to about 85% to 90% of the normal pace for June - higher in July and August. The market probably will not reach full steam until later in 2020.
Back in mid April when I was attempting to predict the future I did not expect in-person appointments with clients and the public by now. I thought we’d get to that point in July or so. I didn’t expect even limited “open houses” until later in the year. Then, after seeing the COVID related numbers drop I began to think in-person appointments would be allowed in Phase 2.
At no time did I expect any variation of “Open Houses” to be permitted during Phase 2. Although Open Houses are efficient in the sense that they allow many prospects to look at a property in a very short period of time why allow such risky behavior when prospects can preview properties online and otherwise schedule an appointment? Well, probably because there was no way to define an in-person property viewing - even one-at-a-time - without it being applied in a manner similar to an open house (e.g., 2-3 pm on a Saturday afternoon). So, I guess it makes sense from a practical point of view. In my opinion Open Houses unnecessarily expose the public to a greater risk than any benefits they may provide.
RE/MAX Realty Group | 10 Grove Street | Rochester, New York 14534 | 585-248-0250