Real estate agents urge Pa. to allow them to resume business

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Real estate agents from the Philadelphia region and beyond are urging Gov. Tom Wolf to allow them to reopen their operations by May 1 and reclassify them as essential businesses.

Keller Williams real estate agent Brad Weisman said neighboring states are allowing real estate operations to continue, based on Homeland Security guidelines. 

“Every other state around our state has (real estate agents) as essential, and Pennsylvania looks at us as nonessential,” he said.

Weisman, of Wyomissing in Berks County, started a campaign, after garnering support in a Facebook group for the statewide real estate industry. He’s managed to get nearly 1,800 signatures on a petition — a copy of which was submitted to Wolf’s office on Tuesday.

“It’s from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Carlisle,” Weiseman said of the petition. “I’m looking at the signatures here — when you do a signature on a petition you have to put your name and your location — Phoenixville, Norristown, Douglassville, Birdsboro, Harleysville.”

However, Dominique Lockett, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said Homeland Security is not mandating it, just offering guidance. 

“It is guidance,” she said, “not a federal standard.”

That guidance is subject to the discretion of the states.

“This advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions,” Lockett added in a statement. “Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

Lockett said the governor’s order to close non-life-sustaining businesses was made “with the health and safety of Pennsylvanians as first priority.”

Even further, an April 10 memo from the Pennsylvania Department of State outlines “limited guidance” for appraisers, notaries, title companies and home inspectors: “In-person activities, such as inspections, appraisals, final walk-throughs, and in-person title insurance activities are permitted for only those residential real estate transactions, which, with respect to existing homes, were under contract (signed) prior to the date of March 18, 2020, or, with respect to new construction, which were under a previously executed contract that provides for closing and delivery to the customer on or after March 18, 2020.” 

Lockett said the governor’s office is monitoring mitigation efforts on a day-to-day basis to evaluate what future steps are appropriate.