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Commercial real estate deemed essential service for California

Since March 20, commercial and residential property showings were canceled in California as nonessential services, forcing realtors to utilize unconventional means of showing properties through social media platforms. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security named residential and commercial real estate an important sector for ‘essential critical infrastructure workforce.’

The status of the announcement

The economic sectors determined by the Department of Homeland Security do not necessarily constitute a federal regulation, directive or standard, only an advisory of what should be considered essential to the economy. The advisory list makes provisions for specific jurisdictions to decide what sectors and portions of the workforce are crucial. The requirements for this advisory list require the following:

  • The workers and industries named in the advisory are those critical to the support of supply chains and ‘critical’ infrastructure as well as those needed to protect local communities from the disease, maintain their health and provide support for ongoing and future medical efforts.
  • The included industries include healthcare, telecommunications, defense contracts, food, agriculture, transportation, energy, water, waste management, law enforcement, and public utilities.
  • State governments and local municipalities are in charge of deeming what activities, services and industries are essential. These entities will carry out responses to the virus outbreak. These governmental entities are also responsible for imposing the designations of essential businesses.
  • Local city and county regulations, in some cases, may supersede state and federal advisories, so despite the Dept. of Homeland Security’s statement, commercial real estate sales may remain halted in some areas.

What this means for California’s commercial real estate industry

Though open houses are generally no longer available, realtors are encouraged to complete showings and sales electronically and virtually. If buyers must visit a property before finalizing a transaction, a single real estate agent and no more than two viewers per showing should be permitted. According to the guidelines, sellers will not be allowed in the property during the time of a showing. Despite this new designation, real estate agents/brokers must follow all protocols necessary for protecting the health of clients, sellers and themselves. If you’re a commercial real estate agent or broker, you need a lawyer to guide you through the everchanging guidelines and regulations as you conduct your business.