Real estate agents in Pennsylvania aren’t giving up their fight to have their industry declared life-sustaining so real estate sales can resume statewide. Pennsylvania is currently the only state banning most in-person real estate activity.
The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors is urging the General Assembly to pass House Bill 2412 by Rep. Todd Polinchoc, R-Bucks, or Senate Bill 1135 by Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, that would recognize real estate as a life-sustaining business and allow agents to return to work.
While some real estate activity will be allowed soon in the 37 counties that will transition to “yellow” in the governor’s “red” “yellow” and “green” stage reopening plan, Chris Raad, president-elect of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors in Lemoyne, said that’s not enough and could even lead to more problems.
“There’s a lot of inconsistency in the governor’s orders,” Raad said. “The issue is what is happening with the fractured reopening… It creates chaos”
Under current conditions, a seller in the Lehigh Valley buying a house in the state’s northern tier, could buy the house, but not sell their own, he said. Agents throughout the region are frustrated by their inability to sell and rent property under the current orders.
“It’s been horrible,” said Andrea Decker, former president of PAR and associate broker with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtor’s Coopersburg office. “I’ll have a client call me and say ‘Andy come sell my home.’ People don’t understand. Consumers are confused.”
Tejas Gosai, a realtor with Century 21 Keim Realtors in Allentown, said the shutdown has created a hardship for both clients and agents.
He has clients that range from those desperate to move, looking to escape domestic violence situations, and stuck in hotels because their home sale can’t be completed.
It’s also been rough on Realtors who rely solely on sales commissions for their income and have not had sales for nearly two months.
Gosai created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for those affected by the shutdown of real estate, both for clients in bad housing situations and agents facing a financial crisis. He’s only raised about $1,100 of his $500,000 goal, but said it was raising awareness of the issue.
“Guidelines for in-person real estate should be consistent with other professions and allow at least four people in a property, while practicing social distancing,” PAR President Bill Festa said.
Radd said Realtors understand that it won’t be business as usual, there won’t be open houses, for example, for a long time. But, he said his association feels showing homes to one person at a time – especially a vacant property – presents much less risk than other activities that are allowed.
“We know we can do this safely,” said Raad.
One positive note, said Decker, is that when real estate activity does resume there will be a demand.
“I’m very optimistic that we’ll all be very busy,” she said.