Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared that real estate agents are “non-essential” service providers and must close. He also banned open houses and showings. As a licensed real estate broker, I believe this to be a mistake.
Here in the Hudson Valley, we are fielding calls from concerned city dwellers wishing to escape a likely New York City lockdown. They’re seeking short-term rentals in our area, and we’re unable to help them. Our hands have been tied, effectively stranding them in an already over congested city. What purpose does that serve?
There are two basic human needs: food and shelter. Nationwide, we are entering a time of huge societal disruption. Children will be taking their parents out of nursing homes to protect them; homeowners and landlords will not be able to make their mortgage payments; the unemployed will be hard-pressed to pay their rent. People will need to relocate to be closer to family. Everybody will still need a roof over their heads. And real estate agents are uniquely positioned to help.
Real estate agents greatly contribute to the efficiency of the housing market. We are all deeply embedded in our communities. No one knows the housing stock better than we do. That knowledge is our job description.
If we have to, we can do without offices, but we will still need to have showings. There is only so much we can accomplish virtually. Most people will still want to physically visit a property before renting it and, especially, buying.
Showings will require social distancing. Surfaces will need to be disinfected. With common sense, our work can be conducted with minimum risk to the public and to ourselves.
Real estate agents have much to contribute to our communities. This is no time to sideline us. Gov. Cuomo should reconsider his overly hasty decision.
Daniel Aubry, Beacon
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