For Sale Sign

Real estate has gotten the green light even in the red zones of Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday afternoon that the real estate industry can operate statewide on a limited basis, even in red-phase regions where Wolf’s stay-at-home order is in place. Realty operations resumed last Friday in 13 Southwestern Pennsylvania counties that transitioned to yellow, enabling certain businesses to reopen. Those counties included Washington, Greene, Allegheny, Fayette and Westmoreland.

The governor said in a prepared statement: “While at this point more than two-thirds of the state will be in the yellow phase by Friday, we are still evaluating how industries may be able to conduct business appropriately in red-phase counties.”

He said, real estate “impacts numerous types of businesses and Pennsylvania homebuyers who are in the process of, or considering, purchasing a home. It’s critical that these businesses, regardless of whether they are in red-phase or yellow-phase counties, strictly adhere to all appropriate guidelines and guidance.”

Until last week, Pennsylvania was the only state in which Realtors and real estate agents were not allowed to perform basic operations: showing homes to clients in person, or working in their realty offices. Industry professionals could remain in touch electronically or via telephone with sellers and potential buyers, but could not close deals after Wolf determined in mid-March that real estate was a non-life-sustaining business.

Many in the industry fumed over the governor’s decision, which in some instances left clients in financial limbo.

Wolf issued guidance requirements for the industry Tuesday. Every person at a work site, business location or a property for sale must wear a mask or face covering. In-person activities should be scheduled and limited to the real estate representative and two people inside a property at one time, while following proper social distancing.

That, apparently, is a change from last week, when several real estate personnel told the Observer-Reporter that only one agent and one client could enter a home at the same time.

The governor also recommended that during settlements and closings, notary and powers of attorney functions be handled remotely and that the exchange of contract documents be done electronically or by mail, if possible.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. If you have a subscription, please Log In.