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Pennsylvania eases restrictions on real estate industry to allow some in-person operations

Governor Tom Wolf announced guidance for realtors on resuming operations after vetoing a bill that would have reopened some in-person real estate services.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — In-person real estate transactions can resume in the Commonwealth, with some limits. Pennsylvania is the last state in the country to lift restrictions on the real estate industry.

On May 19, Governor Tom Wolf lifted restrictions on in-person real estate activities. According to the Governor’s guidance, all in-person activities should be scheduled and limited to no more than the real estate professional and two people inside a property at any time, exercising appropriate social distancing.

Realtors are more than ready to return to work.

“The percentage of buyers alone that are willing to buy a house virtually and sight unseen, is not very many,” said Josh Clelan, a realtor for Coldwell Banker in Dauphin County. “I mean, how many first time homebuyers are going to say ‘you know what, I’ll take this leap of faith’ without ever stepping foot inside a home?”

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Under the Wolf Administration, every person will be required to wear masks or face coverings, stagger property showings and provide verbal health screenings at each in-person activity.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country to impose restrictions on real estate businesses for as long as it did. Every other state has deemed the industry “essential” and allowed operations to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

Proposed legislation, House Bill 2412, would have reopened some in-person real estate transactions. It garnered bipartisan support and passed the state legislature. Governor Wolf vetoed that bill, saying it did not provide enough safety protocols for the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The legislation would have placed restrictions on municipalities related to property transfers, according to the Wolf Administration, eliminating a municipality’s ability to issue use and occupancy permits and conduct safety inspections.

Shortly after his veto, Governor Wolf announced guidelines for realtors to resume operations. To some lawmakers, the move reeks of politics.

“That [realtors] couldn’t do this all along when 49 other states could, I think that’s really tough. More and more people were starting to realize what was going on, but it’s just sad that it occurred this way. I’m glad it’s happening, but I’m really disappointed in the lack of transparency,” said Republican Senator Scott Martin, who represents Lancaster County.

Real estate agents are interested in seeing how the Wolf Administration's guidelines are rolled out. While they mention face coverings, they do not mandate disposable gloves or shoe coverings. Regardless, realtors like Clelan, have hit the ground running—thrilled to have the industry back on the market.

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“I’ve already reached out to [clients], called, texted, emailed and said look, we’re open for business with some restrictions in place and I’m ready to go when you are,” Clelan added.

To read more about the Wolf Administration’s guidelines and requirements, click here.