A time of being nonessentially essential in real estate

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Adam Paarlberg Courtesy Adam Paarlberg

During the past several weeks, even before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, we have all been aware of people serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve heard stories of how tirelessly and courageously those in health care, the supply chain, emergency services, law enforcement, grocery and so many other areas of service have been working. They are essential and deserve a huge expression of thanks from all of us.

In real estate, the priority is a bit different. Yes, lending and title closings continue as essential financial services under the executive order and fill an important need. However, travel for much of what happens in the business of real estate — things like the showing of houses, in-person delivery of documents, on-site professional photography — was deemed nonessential under the order. As realtors, we are engaged in the ever-important area of housing and shelter, but for the time being, we are adjusting to the logistical and emotional changes that this temporary status brings.

Under the order, realtors are "noncritical" for the time being. But on the other hand, I've begun to experience just how essential real estate and realtors continue to be, even while under our stay-at-home order. Already I’ve experienced agents and real estate companies rising to the challenge of finding new ways to help buyers and sellers find meaningful solutions to problems.  

Working remotely

There is much real estate activity that can happen while working from home. Even during this time, we are seeing listings electronically coming to market. We see buyers viewing homes virtually. Agreements to purchase and other paperwork are being digitally signed. All of this is transmitted from home to home and within the guidance of the stay-at-home order. 

Counsel and resourcefulness

Realtors have been there to counsel buyers and sellers during this interesting time. In some cases where needs can be paused, decisions and actions are being temporarily delayed. In other cases, where needs cannot easily be pushed off, consumers’ needs are being met in wonderfully creative and appropriate ways. It’s been encouraging to see.

Guidance for what’s next

We’ve all felt uncertainty around the current crisis. Even while realtors work from home, myriad examples of agents offering reassurance to the question many are asking: What will happen in housing?

Already, many expert voices have joined in chorus behind the message that the real estate market is strong and will lead in a bounce-back even as we emerge from the current crisis. In very essential ways, the real estate community has come together to provide guidance, sound information, encouragement and hope. 

And we’ll continue to be there for our communities. First, during this time where we collectively do our part for the safety and health of all our neighbors, and also as we all emerge when this time has passed. Real estate is and will continue to be central to the fabric of our communities, and I’m proud to be part of the ever-essential group of professionals who will keep finding solutions to our communities’ real estate needs.

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