Dear Clients and Friends,
The COVID-19 virus has changed how we live and work. Our sense of home has become more meaningful, while professions that require person to person contact, such as real estate, have been drastically altered to ensure all safety precautions are in place.
As corporate citizens and a community of 1300 agents, Houlihan Lawrence is committed to business practices that keep our agents, clients and community protected during this health crisis. Though our physical doors are closed, our virtual doors are open for business. Our agents are productively working from home leveraging the many digital and virtual tools that allow us to connect buyers and sellers.
As the leading brokerage north of NYC, Houlihan Lawrence has offices and agents in the states of New York and Connecticut and the following is our understanding of how to conduct business while complying with respective state mandates and observing social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC.
At the onset of the health crisis in mid-March, real estate was deemed an unessential business in New York by Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order. On April 1, 2020, the Empire State Development agency (ESD) deemed real estate brokerage an essential business. However strict limitations accompany the change in status to essential business.
Specifically, agents are prohibited from going to a property with their client or customer, according to recent guidance from EDS, however virtual showings are allowed. An agent can enter a home to conduct a virtual showing as long as they are alone. The seller cannot be present nor can the buyer. This guidance is provided to avoid any person to person contact. The agent may conduct a virtual showing using FaceTime, Skype, video, etc. to virtually show the property to their buyer.
Houlihan Lawrence strongly recommends our agents do not conduct virtual showings that require physically accessing the property, whether vacant or if seller offers to vacate. The health and safety of our agents and community is our top priority and we endorse practices to minimize/eliminate person to person contact as the most effective preventive measure available.
Third parties, such as appraisers and inspectors are able to visit properties for inspection. Buyers can be present for an inspection, with home inspector’s approval. Agents may not attend appraisals or inspections because they are prohibited from going to a property with a client or customer.
In CT, real estate transactions and related services, including residential leasing are considered essential business. However offices cannot be staffed or opened for business. Houlihan Lawrence agents are working from home, well-equipped with virtual tools and technology to stay connected to you.
Real estate transactions under contract have closed and can continue to close under state guidelines. If you are a buyer or seller in contract, we suggest you consult with your attorney. However, those services deemed essential for the transaction are permitted and participation in in-person activities is limited to those who are essential to the transaction. For example, showings are permitted exclusively to those making the decision. Others, such as children, parents or friends, are not permitted to attend showings. Home inspections are allowed among the inspector, principal buyer(s) and their agent only. Sales associates may open the door for an appraiser, but may not enter the property. Only the inspector, the buyer(s) and their agent should be present for final walk-through.
Houlihan Lawrence has been serving the needs of our clients for over 132 years. During that period, we have endured adversaries and painful hardships that impacted our industry. We know from experience that adapting quickly and strategically to changing conditions is critical to our collective success.
The safety and well-being of our agents, employees, clients and neighbors is our primary concern during the COVID-19 crisis and we are leading by example. With courage, humanity and compassion, we will move forward, together.
Wishing you and your family safety and good health.
Elizabeth D. Nunan Stephen R. Meyers
President and CEO Chairman