Homeland Security Classifies Real Estate as Essential Business — And Here’s What That Means In Plain English


As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, one of the major economic concerns is around which industries are classified as an essential service and which industries aren’t. Business ‘as normal’ is undergoing dramatic shifts and business owners are unsure as to what they can and cannot do. Fortunately, The Department of Homeland Security issued guidance last week on what is and isn’t an essential business. 

Your state and local guidance take precedent so as a business owner, make sure to cross reference all required guidelines if you do plan to continue business activities. 

Getting Real About The Real Estate Industry

Real estate permeates our daily life in more ways than we realize. If this industry is forced to stop, at risk individuals would be out of options. As hundreds of millions of people are home, many are having issues in their home lives and financial status exacerbated — leading to them needing to explore new opportunities. Whether looking to escape from domestic abuse, experiencing a divorce or needing to sell a home due to extreme financial hardship, real estate provides a lifeline to a new beginning.

Individuals May End Up Stuck In Challenging Situations

Combine that with millions of real estate professionals dependent on this industry for their income and we start to recognize the need for this industry to continue. Whether standard buyer and seller transactions, inspectors, appraisers, notaries, stagers, photographers, videographers, and more, the real estate industry is an essential lifeline of our daily economic life, ensuring people have a sense of security in their home life.

Fortunately, The Department of Homeland Security has included real estate and associated sub-industries on the list of essential services. This helps ensure we don’t see another major interruption in our economy by halting sectors that aren’t high risk.

Taking Care Of Business

Real estate pros can operate as long as they follow public health best practices outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) – but this brings up another issue. Most people view real estate as a highly social job. Networking events, coffee chats, open houses, shaking hands, showing homes. How does a realtor adapt to the new reality of COVID-19?

First, any standard social activity for generating new business must stop. No open houses, no coffee chats, no networking events. Realtors can do these with virtual consultations.

Using both organic and paid social media allows realtors to connect with potential prospects where they are right now, at home, in front of their screens. Once a prospect is interested, the first step is to get them pre-qualified. Then, and only then, realtors can offer a virtual showing by going to the property and doing a live video walkthrough, or you can offer a no contact, sanitized, in-person showing.

For realtors who do choose to offer no contact, in-person showings after a prospect has been pre-qualified, please make sure to follow physical distancing protocol as well as being mindful of surfaces. Realtors may also be well served to wear a mask and glasses. Over-communicate with clients beforehand so they aren’t put off by distancing precautions.

As our new economic reality starts to set in, our responsibility is to ensure that we are following best practices in support of public health across every essential industry. Be sure to cross-reference the Homeland Security guidelines against state and local guidelines for essential services if you plan to continue business activities.


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