Answers to Frequently Asked Real Estate Questions During COVID-19

Updated: Jun 10

The past month has been filled with uncertainties, rapidly changing guidelines and a complete change to the ways we’re used to doing business. The New York State Association of REALTORS® has compiled a helpful guide with answers to frequently asked real estate questions to help make everything as clear as possible. See select Q&As below and click here for the full set.


Please check back often as these answers may change based upon guidance received from the government.


Can I have in-person contact with a member of the public?

No. ESD has issued guidance that “real estate services shall be conducted remotely for all transactions”. Licensees must utilize alternative methods of conducting business to avoid person to person contact with members of the public. We are unaware of any scenario where a licensee would be “legally necessary” to have in-person contact.


Can agents still take a listing?

Yes. ESD has issued guidance that “real estate services shall be conducted remotely for all transactions”. Licensees must make every effort and explore every alternative to avoid person to person contact with members of the public. This can be done a number of ways including utilizing alternate means such as virtual listing appointments, electronic transmission and signing of documents. A licensee may also mail or use a courier (UPS, FedEx, DHL) to deliver documents to a consumer to sign.


Can an agent perform in-person showings?

No. Pursuant to the most recent guidance from EDC, all showings must be done “virtually” by the licensee. When such “virtual” showings occur, the seller should leave the property so as to avoid person to person contact with the licensee.


Can an agent perform an in-person open house?

No.


Are we allowed to list properties and post them as “unaccompanied showings only”?

NYSAR recommends that licensees should not be involved in coordinating an unaccompanied showing. If the seller demands that buyers be permitted to view the property the licensee should not be involved in the process. If the seller instructs the listing agent to provide their contact information to the buyer, then the listing agent should do so. This should be the only activity the listing agent performs. The listing agent should not be coordinating anything between the seller and buyer except for providing contact information.


Are we allowed to do a virtual showing?

Yes, with the knowledge and informed consent of the seller.


Can I go to a vacant home or vacant land to view it or take photographs for a listing?

Yes, with the knowledge and informed consent of the seller. In the event the property is not vacant upon arrival, the licensee should cease taking photographs/video and leave the property. NYSAR strongly advises against the use of a third-party photographer/videographer as they are not an essential business. Licensees and/or homeowners are able to take the pictures or video.


What is the liability if an agent violates the Governor’s mandate?

Penalties can range from a fine of $2,000, being charged with a misdemeanor and possible license suspension or revocation.


Can I open the property for an appraiser or home inspector?

Yes, but licensees should try to minimize person to person contact by utilizing alternate means in granting access.


Can the purchaser be present during the inspection?

No, ESD has provided guidance that the inspector can perform the inspection but may only communicate with the purchaser virtually.


Can I conduct a final walkthrough with the purchaser?

No. Pursuant to the most recent guidance from the EDC, licensees are prohibited from going to a property with their client or customer. NYSAR is recommending that the buyers and sellers speak with their attorneys about scheduling a final walkthrough without the licensee being physically present. The licensee may communicate with their client or customer via phone or video conferencing during the final walkthrough.


Are closings permitted?

Yes. It should be noted that remote notarization is now permissible under the Governor’s Executive Order 202.7 and closings may be conducted virtually. It is the decision of the lender, seller’s attorney and buyer’s attorney as to whether a virtual closing and/or remote notarization or other methods are used to avoid person to person contact.


Can I attend a closing?

No, unless your presence is essential to the completion of the closing. In other words, if you are not physically there, the closing could not occur. If your presence is required, you should only be in the closing room for as long as you are required and then leave while taking all health and safety precautions recommended by the government.


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