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essential service

Is Real Estate an Essential Service?

Real estate is an essential service in most states, but not all. For example, states like Connecticut, Illinois, and Ohio determined that real estate is an essential service and that agents and related professionals may continue serving the public during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Others like Michigan and Pennsylvania decided that real estate businesses are non-essential and that they should temporarily cease operations that involve face-to-face contact with others for public health purposes.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., states have developed strategies to slow its spread. As COVID-19 cases grew exponentially in March 2020, the number and breadth of these strategies accelerated. Several states implemented restrictions on public gatherings with some going as far as placing limits on commerce except for a few “essential” businesses and services.

Not all states have taken the same approach. As a result, there are state-by-state differences in the kinds of businesses that are permitted to operate normally and those under restriction. As an industry, real estate appears to be straddling this dividing line—deemed essential in some states, but not others.

In this blog, we list the states where real estate is an essential service and where it is not. 

RETS

The business landscape is changing rapidly, so we will update this blog as we receive new information. Some states have not yet issued an order limiting non-essential business. In others, the state has not taken action, but local municipalities have. You can help us by leaving a comment below. Check with your local real estate association or MLS for official business or legal guidance on operations during the coronavirus outbreak.

Updated 5/14/2020

Note: On March 28, the federal government published a new memo to include real estate as critical infrastructure under Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines.

By mid May, states began lifting stay-at-home orders and allowing real estate professionals to resume more operations.

Alabama
ESSENTIAL

On March April 3, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued an executive order that directed workers to stay at home except to maintain businesses deemed essential. Real estate is listed among them. 

Alaska
ESSENTIAL

On March 27, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy issued health mandate No. 012, which required businesses in the state to close public operations except those designated as essential services or critical infrastructure.The order incorporates federal guidance which includes real estate as a critical service. 

Arizona
ESSENTIAL

On March 30, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued executive order No. 2020-18, which issued residents to stay at home except as necessary to maintain essential businesses. Real estate is included among them.  

California
ESSENTIAL

On March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued executive order N-33-20 that directed residents to stay at home except as necessary to maintain critical infrastructure sectors identified by the federal government. Per the federal guidance published March 28, real estate is now listed among them.

Colorado
ESSENTIAL

On March 25, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued executive order No. D2020-017, which orders residents to stay in place except those working in a business or activity that has been designated as critical.  Real estate is listed among them.

Connecticut
ESSENTIAL

On March 20, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued executive order No. 7H, which ordered businesses in the state to end in-person office operations except those deemed essential. Real estate is listed among them.

Delaware
NON-ESSENTIAL

On March 22, Delaware Governor John Carney issued the fourth modification to his state of emergency declaration, in which he ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in the state. Real estate offices are listed among them, though agents and brokers may work from home and continue showings and other actions necessary to complete sales in final stages prior to the order.

District of Columbia
NON-ESSENTIAL

On March 24, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued order No. 2020-053, which ordered the closure of business offices in the district except those designated as essential. Real estate is not listed among them, though closing and showings involving one home and one buyer may continue.

Florida
ESSENTIAL

On April 1, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued executive order No. 20-91, which directed workers in the state to limit movements outside the home except to perform business designated as essential. Real estate is listed among them.

Georgia
ESSENTIAL

On April 2, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order directing workers to stay home except as necessary to maintain essential services as defined in federal guidance. Real estate is listed among them. 

Hawaii
ESSENTIAL

On March 23, Hawaii Governor David Ige issued a supplementary proclamation, which ordered residents to stay at home except to maintain essential businesses. Real estate is listed among them. 

Idaho
ESSENTIAL

On March 25 Idaho Governor Brad Little and Health Director Dave Jeppesen issued an order directing workers to stay at home except to operate businesses deemed essential. Real estate is listed among them. 

Illinois
ESSENTIAL

On March 20, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued executive order No. 2020-10, which ordered the closure of business operations in the state except those defined as essential. Real estate is listed among them.

Indiana
ESSENTIAL

On March 23, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued executive order No. 20-08, which directed residents in the state to stay at home except for essential activities and to maintain essential businesses. Real estate is listed among them.

Kansas
ESSENTIAL

On March 28, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued executive order No. 20-16, which directed workers to stay at home except to maintain businesses designated essential functions. Real estate is listed among them. 

Kentucky
ESSENTIAL

On March 25, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued executive order No. 2020-257, which orders the closure of businesses except those designated as life-sustaining.  Real estate is included among them, though in-person interaction must be limited to minimum basic operations or where telecommuting is not possible.

Louisiana
ESSENTIAL

On March 22, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued proclamation No. 33 JBE 2020, which restricted gatherings and operations with the public for businesses in the state except those deemed critical infrastructure. Per the federal guidance published March 28, real estate is now listed among them.

Maine
ESSENTIAL

On March 31, Maine Governor Janet Mills issued executive order No. 28 FY19/20 which directed workers to stay at home except to maintain essential businesses. As a professional service, real estate is considered essential.

Maryland
ESSENTIAL

On March 23, Maryland Governor Lawrence Hogan issued executive order No. 20-03-23-01, which requires the closure of businesses in the state except those included in federal guidance on critical infrastructure. Per the federal guidance published March 28, real estate is now listed among them.

Massachusetts
ESSENTIAL

On March 23, Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, which required businesses in the state to close physical workplaces except those that provide essential services. Real estate is listed among them.

Michigan
NON-ESSENTIAL

On March 23, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued executive order No. 2020-21, which directs residents to stay at home unless part of the critical infrastructure workforce. Real estate agents and brokers are not considered critical infrastructure workers.

Minnesota
ESSENTIAL

On March 25, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued executive order No. 20-20,

Which directed workers in the state to stay at home except to maintain businesses deemed critical. Real estate is listed among them.

Mississippi
ESSENTIAL

On April 1, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed executive order No. 1466, which ordered businesses in the state to cease operations except those deemed essential. Real estate is listed among them. 

Missouri
ESSENTIAL

On April 3, Missouri Governor Michael Parson signed an order requiring workers to stay at home except to maintain businesses deemed essential under federal guidance. Real estate is listed among them. 

Montana
ESSENTIAL

On March 26, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a directive requiring workers to stay at home except as necessary to maintain businesses and operations designated essential. Real estate is listed among them. 

Nevada
ESSENTIAL

On March 20, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued an emergency directive that directed businesses to close in the state except those designated as essential. Real estate is listed among them.

New Hampshire
ESSENTIAL

On March 27, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu issued emergency order No. 17, which required businesses in the state to close except those deemed essential. Real estate is listed among them. 

New Jersey
NO DESIGNATION

On March 21, New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy issued executive order No. 107, which ordered the closure of non-essential retail businesses. As a professional service, real estate does fall under the closure requirement, though agents and brokers must comply with other aspects of the stay at home order.

New Mexico
ESSENTIAL

On March 23, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary of Health Kathy Kunkel issued a public health order to close businesses in the state except those designated as essential. Real estate was listed among them.

New York
NON-ESSENTIAL

On March 18, New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued executive order No. 202.6, which directed businesses to close in-office operations except those designated as essential. Real estate was not listed among them, though the state later clarified that some limited activities may continue. 

North Carolina
ESSENTIAL

On March 27, North Carolina Governor issued executive order No. 121, which directed businesses to close operations in the state except those designated as essential. Real estate is listed among them. 

Ohio
ESSENTIAL

On March 22, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Health Director Amy Acton issued an executive order that directs business operations in the state to close except those deemed essential. Real estate is listed among them.  

Oklahoma
ESSENTIAL

On March 25, Oklahoma Governor issued an amendment to executive order No. 2020-07, which directs businesses to close in several counties except those listed as essential. Real estate is included among them.

Oregon
NO DESIGNATION

On March 23, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued executive order No. 20-12, which ordered the closure of businesses where personal contact is difficult or impossible to avoid. Real estate offices are not listed under the closure order, but must comply with other restrictions in place.

Pennsylvania
NON-ESSENTIAL

On April 1, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued an executive order directing residents and workers to stay at home except those engaged in businesses designated life-sustaining. Real estate is not listed among them.

Rhode Island
NO DESIGNATION

On March 28, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo issued executive order No. 20-14, which directed non-essential retail businesses to close in the state. As a professional service, real estate does fall under the closure requirement, though agents and brokers must comply with other aspects of the stay at home order. 

South Carolina
NO DESIGNATION

On April 6, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued executive order 2020-21, which ordered the closure of several non-essential retail and entertainment businesses. Real estate is not directly covered under the closure order, though agents and brokers should still follow relevant social distancing guidance. 

Tennessee
ESSENTIAL

On March 30, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued executive order No. 22, which directs businesses to close in the state except those deemed essential. Real estate is included among them. 

Texas
ESSENTIAL

On March 31, Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued an executive order that directed residents to avoid in-person contact except to maintain essential services. Real estate is listed among them.

Vermont
NON-ESSENTIAL

On March 24, Vermont Governor Phil Scott issued an addendum to executive order 01-02, which directs workers to stay at home except to maintain businesses deemed critical to public health and safety. Real estate is not listed among them.

Virginia
NO DESIGNATION

On March 23, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued executive order No. 53, which ordered the closure of public access to recreation, entertainment, and retail businesses, except those deemed essential. Because they are considered a professional service, real estate businesses are not required to close at this time, but they should comply with other social distancing requirements included in the order.

Washington
NON-ESSENTIAL

On March 23, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued an amendment to proclamation No. 20-05, which instructs workers in the state to stay at home except as necessary to maintain businesses deemed essential. Real estate is not listed among them, though guidance from the state later clarified that some limited activities may continue such as meetings in which no more than two people are onsite at a property. 

West Virginia
ESSENTIAL

On March 24, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice issued executive order No. 9-20, which directed workers in the state to stay at home except those involved in businesses deemed essential. Real estate is listed among them.

Wisconsin
ESSENTIAL

On March 24, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Health Secretary Andrea Palm issued executive order No. 12, which directs businesses to close public operations except those listed as essential. Real estate is included among them.

From what we can tell, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have not yet issued a state order designating essential businesses. 

Follow the Realtyna Blog for more updates on the coronavirus and the impact on real estate businesses.

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2 Comments
  • Bettina Hudson
    Posted at 21:21h, 13 April Reply

    What about Queensland?????

    • Tait Militana
      Posted at 06:06h, 14 April Reply

      Hi Bettina, apologies! We don’t have any info from Australia for now. Good luck to you, and stay safe.

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