A much needed COVID-19 Update July 14, 2020
*This COVID-19 Update can serve as a sort of table of contents for those in South Florida to reference all emergency orders and guidelines.
It has been some time since I have written about this topic. For a period of time there really was nothing to say. We all had to ride things out and wait and see how this actually developed. (oh how we wish the media would learn to keep themselves quiet when they don’t know the facts…) For over a month now though, much has needed to be said, but I haven’t had the time. The reason is because Real Estate has been in the busy season starting in June and through the first half of July. Yes, instead of our profession coming to a halt for several months, that halt lasted about two weeks and back to the regular grind we were, Coronavirus or no Coronavirus; at least here in South Florida. Now is time for this much needed “COVID-19 Update July 14, 2020”
- Can real estate and home inspection business be performed in person at someone’s private residence?
- What laws are in place limiting our free business practices and what previous limitations are no longer in place?
- Regardless of whether certain activities are legally permitted or not, what safety precautions should we practice according to CDC guidelines?
Can real estate and home inspection business be performed in person at someone’s private residence?
In the state of Florida, Yes; but ONLY IF emergency government orders are being observed. In a previous article on COVID-19, I discussed Emergency Order 20-03 which limited the work of real estate to remote work only. However, this order expired on May 21st, though at that time businesses could re-open ONLY IF face coverings were used when conducting business in the presence of others.
What laws are in place limiting our free business practices and what previous limitations are no longer in place?
It is very important to understand that there are STILL GOVERNMENT EMERGENCY ORDERS IN PLACE; and I think it’s safe to state that a true professional does not conduct business illegally. Well, please understand that it is simply illegal to perform business without implementing the emergency orders in place at the present time. You can find a list of these at the Broward County website, as well as that of Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties regarding our specific situation here in South Florida. Can a business be fined for non-compliance? Well, unless one is an anarchist, one must agree that yes, non-compliance fines are to be expected and rightly so. In fact one of the Broward county guidelines is to report any non-compliance observed with local businesses!
Here are some general business requirements that apply to the real estate transaction:
- Ensure compliance with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control
- Communicate clearly all plans and policies you develop regarding personal
protective equipment, social distancing, and employee health monitoring to your staff,
customers, and vendors
- Whenever feasible, allow employees to telework or establish a rotation or
staggered schedule to reduce the number of employees working on site
- Develop a plan for monitoring your employees’ health, with a particular
focus on COVID-19 symptoms
- Establish contingency plans for the handling of a positive case of COVID-19
in your workplace
- Ensure that employees wear facial coverings in the workplace when within
six feet of another person
- Require customers, clients, and other visitors to the business to wear facial
- Provide hand-sanitizing stations of supplies throughout the workplace
- Individuals must maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between
persons at all times
Regardless of whether certain activities are legally permitted or not, what safety precautions should we practice according to CDC guidelines?
Notice that the above list is made up of REQUIREMENTS; in other words, required by law. Keep in mind that we are still in the most significant pandemic since the Spanish Influenza; and until a safe vaccine is produced and made available, this is our reality. Also, the fact is that many have lost their lives, and many more will. That is not political. It is not pessimism. It is simply reality (and mathematics). Do not be fooled by foolish and flippant media sources. Keep the full safety measures in place until this is finally over and stick to reading government, CDC, and other reliable sources.
Accepting this situation as mature professionals, become familiar with CDC guidelines which can be found here. Professionals should develop COVID-19 guidelines and stick to these. Always confirm with home owners that they or the tenants feel comfortable with professionals entering their home and respect their sensibilities. Fight the urge to relax your guard. Stand strong for social distancing, wearing a face mask when in the presence of others, especially indoors. Avoid touching your face; wash your hands often. Try to keep the amount of people to a minimum at every point of the real estate transaction. If possible perform work remotely and meet over video conference rather than in person.
My personal recommendations are to cultivate patience, get daily exercise, eat as nutritiously as possible, and get enough sleep. I hope this information is helpful in your business or in your evaluating the professionals you hire and work with in your real estate transaction.