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Over the past couple of weeks there has been a significant shift in state reopening activity. Nearly all states have removed mandatory stay-at-home orders, with some states recommending that residents stay home except for essential outings. Social distancing is still the norm, however. And for the most part, businesses are open at limited capacity.

Real estate activity is picking back up, and across the nation the industry is leaning heavily on technology for support—many are predicting that a tech-forward approach is here to stay. In addition, keeping the lines of communication open has been the key to navigating the crisis, according to several brokers.

“We are going to continue using technology to better handle and manage the real estate process. I see more buyers looking at houses from the comfort of their own home,” says Howard W. “Hoby” Hanna, IV, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.  “As leaders, communication is the most powerful thing we do, especially in residential real estate. We have a mantra for our teams: You can’t over-communicate enough. I’m amazed and proud of our entire organization that during this two-month period we’ve excelled in our level of communications. It’s about pivoting and being able to communicate your value proposition while letting buyers and sellers know we have their backs so they can still achieve their homeownership goals while being safe and feeling comfortable.”

The following states lifted their stay-at-home orders in the last week and a half:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachussetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Utah

This WalletHub report ranks which U.S. states have the most and least restrictions in place.

“As American businesses begin to reopen, state and local REALTOR® associations across the country are working closely with their respective governments and business communities to ensure the real estate industry is safely at the heart of our nation’s economic recovery,” National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Vince Malta told RISMedia. “Although we are all eager to get back to work, NAR continues to urge our members to prioritize the health and wellbeing of themselves, their clients and the American public during ongoing reopening and recovery efforts.”

Here’s what each *state is doing and how brokers are responding:
*Some states have opened up several counties while keeping others in lockdown depending on coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates.

Alabama 

Governor Kay Ivey’s stay-at-home order expired on April 30. Non-work gatherings can take now place as long as people maintain a distance of 6ft from each other. Businesses like hair and nail salons can open if they follow sanitation protocols and other rules. Restaurants and bars can open for on-property consumption but with restrictions. Entertainment venues like casinos and theaters remain closed. Starting May 22, entertainment venues, child care and summer camps could open if they follow social-distancing and sanitation rules. Educational facilities can reopen June 1 if they follow social distancing, face mask and sanitization rules.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to make multiple shifts in our marketing and service to consumers. We initially marketed a ‘We’re Still Selling’ message to allow our consumers to know that we’re still here to serve those who still need to move during this crisis. We then shifted to a ‘Virtual Homebuyer Program’ to provide tools and options to buyers to help keep them safe while purchasing. Our most recent shift has been to the ‘Instant Offer Seller Program,’ where we take away the concerns of showings and repairs during this time. Our team saw an increase of 10 percent additional sales YoY from April 2019 to April 2020. We had a record number of buyer appointments for 2020 last week at 101 for our team. We also had two of the busiest days of call-in leads on Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1 as the state opened back up [May 1].” Matt Curtis, Chief Vision Officer, Matt Curtis Real Estate, Inc.

Alaska

On May 19, Governor Mike Dunleavy announced all business and houses of worship could open May 22. All restrictions have been lifted, returning to a pre-COVID environment; however, local communities can implement their own safeguards.

Arizona 

Governor Doug Ducey opened in-person businesses on May 8, with social distancing orders in place. On May 11, restaurants could open for dine-in services again.

“While there are HomeSmart International franchise locations across the country, our headquarters is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ever since Arizona moved to a Stay-At-Home order back in March, we had no choice but to adapt our brokerage model to a new way of doing real estate. Luckily, the HomeSmart model is tech-based. Our brokerage staff, support teams, brokers, and agents work off of proprietary systems and technology tools that allow our teams to work from anywhere. Because of this, we were able to transition to operating 95 percent of our business remote with very little waves of change. The main challenge our brokerages nationwide faced was answering the question, ‘How do we continue the real estate process when agents and clients cannot meet in person?’ Fortunately, the solution came fairly easily, as we already had the technology in place to transition to doing real estate in a virtual environment. Brokers already managed their businesses on the RealSmart Broker platform, while agents managed their transactions on the RealSmart Agent platform. At that point, it was our job to educate and support both agents and consumers so they can continue their real estate processes virtually.” — Ashley Bowers, President, HomeSmart International

Arkansas 

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that gyms, fitness centers, and indoor athletic facilities can open starting Monday, May 4.  Restaurants opened for limited dine-in services starting May 11—groups are limited to 10 people. If the downward trend of coronavirus cases continues, the Governor will allow restaurants to increase capacity to 67 percent. High School and community teams can resume skill training under strict guidelines on June 1.

California

The State of California is under stay-at-home orders (except for local shopping and permitted work and errands) until further notice but is opening on a county-by-county basis. On May 4, some businesses could reopen for curbside pickup. As of May 20, more than half of the state’s 58 counties had moved further into “phase two” of the state’s reopening plan.

“As parts of California start to reopen in terms or real estate activity, here locally we have seen a distinct shift in buyer trends with a surge in out-of-area buyers coming into Montecito, Santa Barbara and our surrounding communities. As more urban areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and many East Coast locations are still under extended shelter-in-place restrictions due to COVID-19, this represents a fundamental shift and accelerated movement away from urban living environments to more community-based locations of which we are a shining example. In order to accommodate this we have increased our virtual presentation options available to both buyers and sellers, which allows online participation in a more focused, safer environment while still offering clients the full scope of service options for their real estate needs. It’s business as usual just in a different format.” — Cristal Clarke, REALTOR®, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

Colorado

The state’s “safer-at-home” order has expired. On May 20, the state began reopening, with restrictions on offices and stores to limit to 50 percent capacity. Hair salons will be able to open on June 1. On June 20, in-restaurant services, gyms and personal services will be allowed to reopen.

“Nothing changed until late March. In April, the number of new listings dropped by about 50 percent, indicating that would-be sellers were holding back. Of those who did put their homes on the market, however, we still saw nearly a third go under contract within a week, even when in-person showings were banned for most of April. We don’t see a softening of the market anytime soon. I just got two offers on a listing that only went active a few days ago.  I foresee a surge in listings because of those who held their homes off the market earlier.” — Jim Smith, Broker/Owner, Golden Real Estate

“While the real estate universe paused with bated breath in April, the results of a complicated, pandemic-driven start to the typical buying and selling season weren’t nearly as bad as many in the industry feared.”  — Marty Schechter (Colorado Association of REALTORS® April Market Update)

Connecticut

The state began reopening on May 20, with offices and stores open at 50 percent capacity. Restaurants can now offer outdoor seating (with social distancing). Hair salons can reopen June 1.  On June 20, the state will allow indoor facilities and some community services to reopen.

“The state of Connecticut had deemed real estate as an “essential” business so many of our practices will continue.  We are opening our offices to staff and our agents and asking that our agents come to the offices only for essential activities.  All of our offices have an open plan which includes social distancing, proper protocols including masks.   Business has continued to be active, although we have a severe lack of inventory.  I am hoping with the opening of the state and the strict protocols of safety in place, that sellers will feel comfortable putting their homes on the market.   We are seeing some buyers buy or rent virtually, but most are seeing the properties.  There are multiple offers on well priced, sought after inventory and closings are taking place with ease.   I am positive about the market going forward and believe we will have a late spring uptick. ” — Candace Adams,  President & of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties, Westchester Properties and New York Properties

“The real estate market in most of the state of Connecticut seems to be picking up steam! While there has been a decline in inventory in the last few months, there seems to be an uptick in ready, willing and able buyers who are taking advantage of the low-interest rates. It is a seller’s market at the moment. We never stopped working for our clients throughout this pandemic, as real estate has been deemed essential. Our agents have taken the COVID restrictions very seriously and insist that all parties wear the necessary protective face mask and gloves at every showing. We include virtual/video tours to all of our listings and encourage buyers to assess the location of the home prior to scheduling a tour. We encourage only serious and ready buyers to enter homes for private tours. We anticipate the market to stay strong and steady throughout the summer. ” — Osi Rosenberg, Broker/Owner of A to Z Realty, LLC

District of Columbia

The stay-at-home order expired on May 29. Restaurants can serve people at outdoor seating. Tables must be at least 6 feet apart and no more than six people can be seated at one table. Customers must be seated when they place orders and when they are served. Barbershops and salons are open by appointment only. Groups of 10 or more people are still prohibited.

“D.C.’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to end May 15, and the D.C. government has been collecting surveys from residents and business owners asking their advice and opinions on the best way to reopen. For real estate, we were always considered essential, so we were able to keep serving clients as long as we followed safety protocols. That included wearing masks and gloves, disinfecting surfaces and only allowing one person through a home at a time. Virtual showings were already a part of our business prior to COVID-19, so they’re definitely coming in handy now. 3D and video tours for listings are critical, as we’re trying to limit contact as much as possible. I expect that these measures will continue past the stay-at-home order expiration. Ultimately, whatever we can do to protect the health and safety of the general public, clients and our agents is critical going forward. Our local REALTOR® associations have been wonderful with keeping us up to date on the government orders and CDC guidelines.” — Lindsay Dreyer, CEO & Broker, City Chic Real Estate

Delaware

Governor John Carney’s stay-at-home order expired May 31. On May 20, retail establishments could begin operating by appointment only. On May 22, state beaches and community pools reopened. Places of worship can conduct services with restrictions, however, it is recommended they offer virtual services instead. Restaurants and stores could open at 30 percent capacity starting June 1.

Florida

Starting May 4, restaurants could open their outdoor seating with six-foot space between tables and indoor seating at 25 percent capacity. Retail can operate at 25 percent of indoor capacity, and bars, gyms and personal services such as hairdressers remain closed. Churches remain on “voluntary social distancing,” and movie theaters remain closed. The state’s stay-at-home order ended on April 30. Lodging can operate at 50 percent capacity. Florida Keys businesses are allowed to reopen to visitors starting June 1. Hotels will also be allowed to reopen at that time, at 100 percent with the common areas only at 50 percent capacity.

“We were classified as ‘essential’ and were allowed to continue providing services, as long as we did so according to the CDC guidelines. We are going to continue providing services in a responsible manner and doing everything we can to get everyone more accustomed to doing showings and transactions virtually so we can limit physical interactions.” – Rei Mesa, President & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty

“Compared to the same quarter last year, total residential sales were up in the first quarter of 2020 across all 22 Florida metro areas. Remember, going into the first quarter last year, the stock market was somewhat in flux and we had just entered the longest-ever shutdown of the federal government. So, home sale activity was a bit slow to start off. By March, though, falling mortgage rates came to the rescue and sales started taking off. Mortgage interest rates are currently lower than they were even back then, though, so it’s no wonder our first quarter sales numbers for 2020 were so strong. Obviously, we are not expecting a repeat performance in Q2 due to the coronavirus outbreak,” added O’Connor. While we expect prices to remain stable through Q2, we will certainly see a reduced number of completed transactions.” — Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor (Florida REALTORS®  Q1 Market Report)

Georgia

The state’s shelter-in-place order ended April 30. On April 24, most businesses could reopen with restrictions such as social distancing and illness screening. Bars and entertainment venues remain closed. There is still a shelter-in-place mandate for those who are “medically fragile and elderly Georgians,” in place until  June 12.

“REALTORS® have been open the entire time here as we’ve been deemed an ‘essential service.’ We’ve just been following CDC and federal guidelines. From a safety standpoint, however, you’re only as good as those who are practicing social distancing and being cautious. I do think that the state opening up things like massage parlors and salons sends the wrong message. If you look at the order on a granular level through, I think they’re trying to follow the guidelines issued by the CDC, but they didn’t communicate that properly.” – Dan Forsman, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties

Hawaii

On May 5, Governor David Y. Ige announced a safer-at-home order across the state, which extends through June 30. Some businesses are now allowed to open, including malls, pet grooming services and in-person retail shopping while practicing social distancing. Beaches are now open for some recreational activities. Out-of-state arrivals must quarantine for 14 days.

“Hawaii’s strict lockdown during April made it very difficult for buyers to visit the islands, which in turn has obviously had a direct impact on the number of sales for the entire real estate industry—and the luxury market is no exception. In general, the sales activity was slow, although single-family homes fared better than condos, which are down by an additional 16 percent. This significant drop in condo sales, especially in the luxury market, reflects a change in demand by the affluent who, due to COVID-19, are now looking to invest in stand-alone properties to ensure a safe
haven for their families.” — Anton Steenman, President & CEO, Elite Pacific Properties

Idaho

The state’s “Order to Self-Isolate” expired May 1. Bars, gyms and theaters are still closed, and restaurants can only offer carryout service. Places of worship could open with social distancing plans.

Illinois

Governor Jay Robert Pritzker stay-at-home order expired on May 29. Businesses began opening on May 1 with curbside service at retail stores. Residents can gather as long as they are in groups smaller than 10. Manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons started reopening May 29. The limited reopening is delayed in Chicago until at least June 3.

Indiana

Governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order expired May 1. Critical businesses have opened but all other industries are closed. On May 4, the state began stage two of reopening—retail and commercial businesses can open at 50 percent capacity, including shopping malls. However, indoor common areas are restricted to 25 percent capacity. Restaurants and bars that serve food could open starting on May 11 at 50 percent capacity, and hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlors could open at that time by appointment only.

“Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb declared real estate services an essential business throughout the state stay-at-home orders. This included both title companies and REALTORS®. Thanks to today’s technology resources, most REALTORS® were already prepared to work remotely, provide video tours, virtual open houses and secure contracts electronically. While many feared how the epidemic would affect the local market, end of March data revealed a 10.1 percent increase in closed sales and 7.7 percent increase in median sales price while the percent of original list price received remained stable at 95.8 percent. Logically the most significant change in data was the number of homes available for sale. Sellers have delayed listing their homes during the pandemic which is causing pent-up buyer demand in Indiana.” – Beth Goldsmith, North Eastern Group Realty

“Housing markets had a strong first quarter. The drop in March pending sales is likely due to COVID-19, but closed sales and prices held with considerable increases. It is impossible to predict how housing markets will perform over the next several months. What REALTORS® do know is, Hoosiers’ housing needs don’t stop because of a virus. Real estate remains an essential business in Indiana and REALTORS® have many tools to get our clients to the closing table in this time of social distancing.” — Terre Haute’s Bernice Helman, 2020 president of the Indiana Association of REALTORS®

Iowa

Governor Kim Reynolds allowed most counties to reopen restaurants, fitness centers, retail stores and enclosed malls at 50 percent capacity starting May 1.  Restaurants have to keep tables at least six feet apart and limit the number of people at a table.

Kansas

The state’s stay-at-home order expired on May 4. Governor Laura Kelly said restaurants can reopen but they must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between customers. Campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities and medical spas can partially reopen with restrictions. Daycare and libraries have opened. Businesses where close contact cannot be avoided, such as night clubs, casinos and gyms remain closed.

Kentucky

On March 23, Governor Andy Beshear announced the state will begin a gradual reopening of Phase 1 health care services, allowing elective surgeries to continue but with precautions. The state’s “Healthy at Home” order transitioned to “Healthy at Work.” In July, the state could allow bars to reopen, as well as gatherings up to 50 people, according to Gov. Beshear. The governor released the following schedule:

– May 11: Manufacturing and construction services can open. Professional services at 50 percent capacity.
– May 20: Retail and houses of worship open.
– May 22: Restaurants reopen at limited capacity.
– May 25: Hair salons and cosmetology services open. Residents can gather in groups of up to 10.
– June 1: Gyms and movie theaters open.
– June 15: Childcare open at reduced capacity.

Louisiana

Governor John Bel Edwards’s stay-at-home order expired May 15. Malls will remain closed, restaurants can now offer outdoor services and churches can operate outdoors in tents (with no flaps). Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

“Our office serves over 110 associates and is a place where clients pay rent and deposit checks are delivered. Our state deemed REALTORS® an essential service, so we decided to have staff work from home and leave the building open for associates who need access. Many associates do not have a quiet home office or area in their home conducive to productivity, which is why the office remaining open was vital. We started having daily online classes on Google Meet with some of the best REALTORS® and coaches in the country. We learned some people had to care for kids at different times of the day, so we launched a YouTube page for recordings of our content. Our leadership and associates are working every day to understand this new normal and make a smart pivot. Lastly, we leaned into social media marketing through KW Command. As an incentive, the office offered to credit every associate—$50 if they spend at least $50 on Command social campaigns. It started slowly with lots of classes, and quickly picked up steam. Now associates are getting leads for 11 cents to $1.50 each—some are buyers for that associate’s listing, allowing dual agency in some cases, resulting in 100-percent increases in commission.” — Jeffrey R. Doussan, Jr, Team Leader, Keller Williams New Orleans

Maine

Governor Janet Mills’ stay-at-home order expired May 31. A Safer-at-Home order is still in place, but is much more relaxed. Some businesses opened in May; these include barber shops and hair salons, auto dealerships and drive-in, stay-in-your-vehicle religious services. Businesses must comply with strict health and safety protocols, and residents must wear cloth masks in public places where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Restaurants in York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties may open to outdoor dining service on June 1, but dine-in service is delayed. Dine-in and outdoor service is permitted in Penobscot County on June 1. Curbside and pickup service is permitted in all counties.

“Home values remain strong. With reduced spring inventory, buyers are making good offers on new listings and there are still multiple offers on appropriately priced homes. It’s still a good time to buy. Interest rates remain low. Sellers are using this time to prepare their homes for sale. The pandemic has expanded work from home options making living in Maine more desirable than ever. Whether it’s a primary residence or second home, people are stress-testing their lives right now; the size of their house, the area they live in and the green space they have available. Maine has become a safe haven.

“We are ALL leveraging technology. In the last few weeks, we’ve put several properties under contract for buyers that had to move. We managed it by utilizing 3D Matterport videos, face timing, and Zoom-ing with clients. Buyers were able to view the house in person prior to closing with masks, gloves, booties and a bare minimum of people in attendance. Our appraisers and inspectors go into homes alone now and provide clients with videos and detailed reports. Lenders and title companies have been going to great lengths to leverage technology that allows closings to happen remotely or even drive-through.

“As restrictions begin to lighten, we will continue to use safe practices so we don’t lose the gains we’ve made flattening the curve on COVID-19 cases and we’ll keep sales moving forward.” — Linda MacDonald Associates, Legacy Properties, Sotheby’s International Realty 

Maryland

The state’s stay-at-home order expired on May 15, though the state recommends that residents stay home when possible. On May 13, retail could open with 50 percent capacity, manufacturing operations could resume, and barber shops and hair salons could open at 50 percent capacity (by appointment only). Houses of worship could resume services outside or indoors but at 50 percent capacity. Restaurants reopened for outdoor dining on May 29.

“The pandemic dramatically raised the bar on agent engagement and adoption of everything virtual. While a generous population of REALTORS® were raised in an e-World, agents who have built their businesses on live interaction alone, or mostly so, have been impacted and then some. Out of every crisis, however, arises opportunity. And those agents who embrace stepping outside their comfort zone and engaging in live video efforts, will be stronger on the other side of this, and more relevant to consumers regardless of generation as we all have had to adapt to this new virtual-only world. We are encouraging our agents to maintain the same routine as they would have pre-COVID. It is clear that top-producing agents establish a power morning routine by getting dressed, managing their time, setting expectations and holding themselves accountable. It is more important than ever for agents to reach out to their entire sphere of influence multiple times to see how they are doing and if there is anything they can do to support them. It is an empathic outreach.” — Regina Coia President, Realty Operations, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty

Massachusetts

All residents are advised to leave home only for healthcare, worship and permitted work, shopping and outdoor activities. The state will allow offices to reopen May 25. All residents must wear a face mask in public. Retail opened May 25 for curbside pickup and delivery only. Real estate open houses are currently allowed with restrictions.

“I certainly miss our weekly team meetings at the office, but we’ve adapted well. We are checking in through Zoom and have a constant text thread going filled with Bitmojis and GIFs.  We’re keeping it light and upbeat! The work is still getting done between home schooling and crazy schedules. Our market remains active and both buyer/seller confidence is still strong overall. We have been able to safely and efficiently assist both buyers and sellers in the midst of this pandemic with some modifications to the transaction process. Many of our listings are receiving multiple offers within the first week of coming online.” — Matt Dolan, Broker, Team Harborside, Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty

“To ensure our agents are fully informed of all the latest regulations, we have prepared a hub of information for both our U.S. and Canadian associates. Within this hub, associates can find information about safety measures, small business loans, the latest industry news, and more. Across the board, we have had a great response from our network about the resources we have provided as they allow agents and owners to more effectively share the latest information with their clients and brokerages.”

Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order was extended to June 12. Manufacturing businesses could reopen May 8. In addition, residents must wear face coverings when entering enclosed public spaces. Some restrictions on outdoor activities will be lifted, allowing some to return to work—this includes landscapers, nurseries and retailers for curbside pick-up and delivery. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Real estate operations resumed on May 7.

“We’re a little hand-tied here in Michigan because real estate is deemed non-essential. We can do business virtually, but a buyer couldn’t see a house if they wanted to.”  Jeff Glover, Founder, Live Unreal Inc. Family of Companies

Minnesota

Governor Waltz’s stay-at-home orders expired May 18, though it is still recommended that residents stay home. The Stay Safe Order encourages Minnesotans to stay close to home but allows gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less, with proper social distancing measures like staying six feet apart and wearing a mask. The order also further opens retail stores and other Main Street businesses if they have a preparedness plan and operate at 50 percent occupancy. Bars and restaurants in Minnesota opened June 1 for outdoor service. The state is also allowing a  limited reopening of hair salons and campgrounds.

“The market in Minnesota is back to normal. We relied heavily on virtual tools like 3D showings and virtual home staging consultations when the stay-at-home order was first rolled out. Activity slowed in early April, but overall we’re having a strong spring market. The number of physical home showings happening in the state is almost exactly the same as it was last year at this time. But, right now, there is a lot of demand and inventory is low.” — Kris Lindahl, Chief Executive and Founder, Kris Lindahl Real Estate

Mississippi

The “safer-at-home” order expired June 1, which suggests residents remain at home, but does not mandate them to. The state moved into its “safe return” order, through which groups, when social distancing is not possible, are limited to 20 people or less indoors and 50 people or less outdoors. For large group gatherings when social distancing is possible, groups are limited to 50 people or less indoors and 100 people or less outdoors. All businesses and non-profits in Mississippi can open, following CDC and Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) guidance to limit transmission. Residents should continue working from home if possible.

Missouri

Governor Mike Parson’s “Stay Home Missouri” order expired May 3. The state’s recovery phase began May 4—there will be no limitations on social gatherings as long as six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals. Indoor retail businesses, however, will have to limit customers to no more than 25 percent of normal capacity.

“As the Broker/Owner of ReeceNichols Southern Missouri, we adapted to the situation very early and never did close our locations. We operate three locations with 45 agents and quickly adapted to the pandemic not to miss a beat. The agents were already used to limited time in the office so we simply made it easier for them, asking them to limit that even more and utilize the phone and email to get the things needed at the office. I would take care of most of that for them and they continued to utilize our digital platforms to turn contracts, listings and closing in as well as self-load the MLS. We also utilized the Zoom platform for office meetings and continued communication, and they also utilized YouTube and other social media marketing to post listings online with Virtual 3D tours to accommodate the initial showing. Our sellers were given a choice if they would allow their house to be shown once the client wanted to go to Step 2—most were fine with it. We asked the sellers to open doors and turn on all lights, and instructed the buyers not to touch those surfaces and simply left the showing and contacted the sellers who put things back quickly. Along with booties and proper disinfecting equipment this proved to be very effective in continuing to do business. I want to thank our state association and our Governor for declaring real estate as essential during these times. I think common sense was the key to continuing to keep business going as usual and, quite frankly, I believe this is the new norm for us. I think we all learned from this time and will continue utilize these safety measures.” — Shaun Duggins, Broker/Owner, ReeceNichols Southern Missouri

Montana

On April 22, Governor Steve Bullock announced the gradual and phased reopening of the state, with businesses set to open April 27. The governor asks residents to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines and to limit gatherings. Schools could reopen starting May 7 at the discretion of local school boards, and restaurants are open at reduced capacity. Starting May 4, restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries could begin providing some inside services. On June 1, the number of people allowed in restaurants and gyms increased to 75 percent capacity.

“We’ve been restricting our office hours since March 27 because we wanted to be as cautious as possible. We are continuing to do showings if the sellers are okay with allowing us into their homes. We are going in with masks, gloves, disinfectants and trying to be as cautious as we can—and that’s what we’ll continue to do. – Bonnie Beuning, Owner, CENTURY 21 Northwest Realty MT

Nebraska

Governor Pete Ricketts announced restaurants can allow customers inside, but with a cap of no more than 50 percent of their normal capacity. Salons, massage businesses and tattoo parlors will be limited to ten people at a time, and everyone must wear face coverings. Houses of worship will be able to meet in-person, but with six feet of separation. Bars and indoor theaters opened May 31 across most of the state with restrictions. Youth baseball and softball teams began practice June 1, with games slated to resume June 18—though there are guidelines they must follow.

Nevada

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home order ended May 9. Restaurants can open for dine-in services with social distancing. Most retail business can open, such as hair salons, by reservation only, and are limited to 50 percent of normal capacity. Bars, bowling alleys, movie theaters and tattoo parlors remain closed. On May 29, the stated moved into Phase 2 of reopening. Gaming establishments can open as of June 4.

New Hampshire

The state’s stay-at-home order was updated to “Stay at Home 2.0″—which was extended on May 31 for two more weeks. Governor Chris Sununu said elective surgeries could resume on May 4 if they are time sensitive. On May 11, barbers and hair salons reopened by appointment only, and with a cap of 10 people, including staff.  Everyone must wear face masks. Retail shops opened May 11, but are limited to 50 percent occupancy—employees must wear face masks. Restaurants reopened on May 18 (only outdoor seating). Tables must be 6 feet apart, only six people can be seated at a table and servers must have cloth face coverings. Schools will remain closed for the school year.

New Jersey

Governor Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order does not yet have an end date. Beginning May 2, all state parks, golf courses and county parks could reopen. The shore is open, but restaurants are take-out only, visitors must wear masks, entertainment is closed and social distancing measures are in place. Gov. Murphy said on May 21 that more indoor businesses such barbershops, salons and gyms would be allowed to reopen, with restrictions, in “a matter of weeks, not months.” New Jersey currently allows indoor services of 10 or less and outdoor services with 25 or less.

New Mexico

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home order expired May 31. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. On April 30, the governor eased some restrictions—non-essential retail stores could offer curbside pickup, veterinarians and pet adoption facilities could open, as could groomers, daycare and boarding businesses. Golf courses allow people to play.  On June 1, the state began allowing dine-in services.

New York

All regions of the state except NYC are currently in phase one of the state’s reopening plan. The following are open:

  • Construction
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
  • Retail – (Limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off)
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale Trade

Under Governor Cuomo’s “Matilda’s Law,” New Yorkers over age 70 and those with compromised immune systems must remain indoors, go outside for solitary exercise, pre-screen all visitors by taking their temperature, wear a mask in the company of others, stay at least 6 feet from others, and stay away from public transportation unless urgent absolutely necessary.

“Market indicators have warned New Yorkers that the housing market was entering a downturn even before the coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented public health and economic crisis in New York City. As we expect to see residential sales again decrease [in Q2], now more than ever, we must collaborate on effective and sensible policies at the city, state and federal levels to jumpstart New York City’s economy.” — President James Whelan (Real Estate Board of New York Q1 Market Report)

“We are working case-by-case with each tenant and owner and adapting with a collaborating mindset and compassionate attitude. We are all experiencing the aftershock and evolution of our New World. How we collaborate together, no matter who holds the leverage, is an opportunity to bridge all gaps and work together. It has been one of the more fulfilling times of connectivity for me because we are together cutting through egos, entitlements and legalities…All are focused on being fair (and) decent.” — Louise Phillips Forbes, Broker, The Louise Phillips Forbes Team, Halstead Real Estate in Manhattan

North Carolina

Retail can open at 50 percent capacity with cleaning and social distancing. Gatherings are capped at 10 people or 25 if outdoors. Child care reopened but working from home is still encouraged. Restaurants are only open for take-out or delivery, and entertainment venues and salons remain closed.

North Dakota

Governor Doug Burgum partially reopened the state on May 1. Qualifying businesses include bars and restaurants, recreational facilities, health clubs and athletic facilities, salons, and tattoo studios. These businesses must maintain six feet of distance, and employees and customers should avoid entering if they have a cough or fever. Movie theaters can reopen with a limit of 20 percent of normal operating capacity, keeping at least two empty seats between guests. Summer school classes and certain summer programs could take place in school buildings starting June 1.

Ohio

Governor Mike DeWine began reopening the state on May 1, with a phased-in approach. Starting May 1, health procedures that don’t require an overnight hospital stay could move forward; dentist and veterinarian offices could also reopen. On May 4, manufacturing, distribution and construction companies could reopen. General offices also may open, but businesses should have people work from home when possible. On May 12, consumer, retail and other services were allowed to reopen. Bowling alleys, batting cages and miniature golf could reopen starting May 20 with virus precautions, along with gyms, fitness centers and recreation centers. Public pools reopened on May 26.

Oklahoma

Starting April 24, the state allowed several businesses to reopen for appointments only, including hair salons, spas, pet groomers, state parks, etc. On May 1, restaurants, entertainment venues, places of worship, and more reopened. Some casinos also reopened.  Schools remain closed.

Oregon

The state’s stay-at-home order is continuing until July 6. Governor Kate Brown allowed elective surgeries to continue on May 1, and schools are closed for the rest of the school year. In approved counties, restaurants and bars can open for sit-down services, and barbers and salons can offer services by appointment only. Group sizes are limited to 25.

Across our footprint of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California, we are not seeing a major shift yet, as things remain in a similar place to where they were a couple of weeks ago. We’ll continue to monitor changes in the real estate environment as states look to continue forward in a phased approach. We anticipate as state governments start to unravel some of these restrictions in a slower ‘walk, don’t run’ approach, it’ll bring more sellers into the marketplace at a steady pace.” — John L. Scott, Chairman & CEO, J. Lennox Scott

Pennsylvania

The state’s reopening phases are broken down into three colors: red, yellow and green. In the red category, the stay-at-home order is extended until June 4. In yellow (currently 24 counties), a limited reopening of all businesses. The state recently loosened restrictions on real estate as well, allowing in-person services to resume.

“On May 19, the Wolf administration issued new statewide real estate guidance that applies to all real estate transactions in Pennsylvania. Though it’s definitely not “business as usual” for REALTORS®, this new guidance opens up the industry with uniform rules across all markets and eliminates much of the confusing and contradictory information that had been put out in previous documents. Specifically, this completely eliminates the Department of State memo from April 28 and all the confusion it created. — Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®

“I decided not to focus negative energy on the Governors order and instead implemented a pivot strategy. The pivoting of my real estate business during the pandemic involved conducting a series of webinars, which included: Six Home Seller Workshops; Matterport executive discussing the benefits of visual tours; Power call guest hosted by a national real estate consultant discussing the pivot; State of The Market address, which included post pandemic predictions for residential real estate. My pivoting also included a research project comparing the usage of visual tours from 2014 to 2020. The results indicate that 65 percent of agents are still not using visual tours during the pandemic. The best part is that we have been able to sell most of our listing inventory virtually since starting our virtual home selling program back in 2017.” — Brett Furman, Broker/Owner, The Brett Furman Group, RE/MAX Classic

Rhode Island

Governor Gina Raimondo stay-at-home order expired May 8. Outdoor dining is permitted with no more than 20 tables per restaurant, and persons must remain eight feet apart with no more than five people per table—reservations only and guests must wear masks when not eating. Gyms, barbershops and salons began reopening in June. Places of worship opened at 25 percent total capacity on May 30.

“Agents are thinking outside the box because they are unable to do traditional forms of marketing like open houses, consecutive showings and broker tours. We are doing Facebook and Instagram virtual open houses on weekends, virtual showings through 3D platforms like Matterport and FaceTime. We have differentiated ourselves for a decade by doing real video and drone photography that is narrated, which has been wildly successful in the selling process. We have bi-weekly Google Meets with each office so that everyone stays connected. Rhode Island has had a ‘stay at home’ policy since March. The buyers that have been looking to buy during this time are secure in their jobs, want to take advantage of the low interest rates and have to move. Once we begin our phased lifting of the order on May 8, reticent sellers will feel more comfortable listing their homes and buyers will be more ready to pursue their dreams of homeownership.

“I think the demand for multi-family homes will increase because investors and buyers will see a new demand for rental units. I also believe that, like after 9/11 when people felt vulnerable in large cities and bought in smaller cities like Providence, that there will be interest in the Ocean State because of our strong leadership, academic environment, arts and culture, and size of the state.

“While our offices have been closed during this unprecedented time, we are clearly open for business and working from our home offices. Once the ban is lifted at the end of May, we will implement social distancing at the offices, daily cleaning, have hand sanitizer everywhere and provide cloth masks for everyone at the company. Many will continue to work from home. Sellers are helping by opening up the doors and turning on the lights so that no one touches surfaces.  Buyers and agents are arriving at properties with gloves, booties, masks and Purell in their possession, and we allow only three people to be in a house at a time.” – Sally Lapides, President & CEO, Residential Properties, Ltd.

South Carolina

Governor Henry McMaster’s “Work-or-Home” order expired May 12. Some non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen starting April 20, including furniture stores, jewelry stores and department stores with the exception of hardware and home improvement stores. Restaurants are open with restrictions, and close-contact service provides like gyms reopened May 18. On May 19, Gov. McMaster lifted restrictions on arcades. tourist attractions and venues operated by social clubs. Night clubs, bowling alleys, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers and racetracks were not included in this roll out.

South Dakota

The state has no stay-at-home orders except in two counties in South Dakota with vulnerable populations—they are practicing social distancing only. School will be cancelled for the remainder of the school year.

Tennessee

Governor Bill Lee’s stay-home order expired on May 30. Restaurants, retail outlets and gyms have been allowed to reopen in most counties . Close contact services like salons and barbershops could reopen on May 6 in 89 of the state’s 95 counties. Schools will remain closed for the school year. On May 21, the governor increased the number of people allowed to participate in social and recreational activities from 10 to 50.

Texas

The state’s stay-at-home order expired May 1. All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries could reopen with limited capacity (50 percent of their listed occupancy). State schools remain closed until the end of the school year. Salons could open starting May 8, with restrictions (one customer per stylist and 6 feet between stations and customers waiting). Masks are strongly recommended but not mandatory. Gyms, non-essential manufacturing and offices reopened May 18, but they must keep capacity at 25 percent while maintaining social distancing. Other businesses reopened  May 22 at 25 percent capacity: bars, wine tasting rooms and craft breweries; and bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rink, rodeos, zoos and aquariums. On June 1, school districts could open for summer school classes with distancing practices followed

“I think people are ready to get back to doing business as normal; however, I think real estate agents, more than ever, need to be extra sensitive to sellers and adjust accordingly. When we are showing a home, we have to remember we are going into their personal space. We’re just going to have to over-communicate with everyone, including our sellers, and just make sure that we show houses in a way that makes everyone comfortable.” – Jennifer Shemwell, President, Phyllis Browning Company

“About three weeks prior to our mayor putting in place the Stay-at-Home order, I had asked our entire support staff to work from home.  Any staff that did not have the technology devices or internet speed, we made sure they had it!  This means the support we give our agents never changes during this challenging time.  Our agents were able to conduct their business ‘as usual’ if they chose to do so.  This was quite forward-thinking.  Many agents and other brokers struggled as they learned to navigate the new normal of the virtual world of real estate. Our market has not declined nor suffered like others. Texas is has a robust economy of many sectors.  When one sector wanes the others don’t.  It’s a hard balance.  Other areas/states did not consider real estate as essential. Texas did designate real estate essential for the beginning of this crisis—that alone made a big difference.” — Leesa Harper Rispoli, President, Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper REALTORS®

Utah

Utah’s stay-at-home order expired May 16, said Governor Gary Herbert. Restaurants can let customers dine in again “with extreme precaution.” However, social distancing must be maintained and the health of employees is monitored—the state emphasizes that takeout and delivery are still preferable. Gyms could reopen starting May 1 as well, but the governor recommends they remain closed. Personal services like hair and nail salons can reopen with social distancing. Schools are expected to reopen in the fall.

Vermont

Governor Phil Scott’s stay-home order expired May 15.  On May 11, some businesses could restart full operations if they comply with additional stringent requirements, according to Gov. Scott. Child care services reopened on June 1. The governor increased the size of gatherings from 10 to 25 people.

Virginia

Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-home order is active until June 10, and schools will remain closed for the school year. The governor restricted certain businesses to no more than 10 people. The following are now open:

  • Retail establishment,  operating at 50 percent capacity
  • Restaurant and beverage establishments, outdoor dining only at 50 percent occupancy
  • Personal grooming services, with one patron per service provider
  • Fitness centers, outdoor exercise only
  • Campgrounds, short-term stays only
  • Places of worship, inside at 50 percent capacity or drive-in only

Washington

The state’s stay-home order expired on May 31. Schools will remain closed for the school year. Most state parks and recreational areas reopened May 5. No overnight camping will be allowed on any public land. Individual counties can ask for an exception to state coronavirus regulations on businesses. In order to apply, a county must have fewer than 75,000 people, with no new coronavirus cases for three consecutive weeks. On May 5, some non-contact businesses like lawn  reopened. On May 19, Gov. Inslee issued new criteria, which focus on counties having less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span

West Virginia

Governor Jim Justice’s stay-home order was lifted on May 4, replaced with another order that still encourages people to stay at home but does not mandate it. Some businesses can reopen starting May 7. Daycare workers will be tested for the virus starting May 4 and can reopen if all working personnel test negative. All businesses reopening will require employees to sanitize, practice social distancing and wear face coverings. Indoor shopping malls could reopen May 21. Bars opened at 50 percent capacity on May 26. Museums, visitor centers and zoos could also open that day.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-home order in May, reopening the state for business.

“Activity is on the rise in Wisconsin. We hit a low point at the end of March, but buyers and sellers have been steadily getting more engaged ever since. Showing activity in Wisconsin is actually surpassing where we were at this time last year.” — Kris Lindahl, Chief Executive and Founder, Kris Lindahl Real Estate

Wyoming

The state does not currently have any stay-at-home orders. Wyoming allowed gyms and personal services businesses like hair and nail salons to reopen on May 1 under certain restrictions. The state largely reopened on May 15 with safety precautions in place.

*Updated June 1, 2020

As the coronavirus and its impact on the industry unfold, RISMedia is providing resources and updates. Get the latest.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.  

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