Covid-19 and Real Estate

I’ve gotten a number of questions related to what the County emergency regulations focused on real estate transactions mean in practice.

It’s very important that residents and businesses adhere to the shelter-in-place, safe distancing and essential business regulations issued by the County. Since we have no vaccine for Covid-19 the only way we can break the cycle of infection is to keep the virus from spreading person to person. And, as disruptive as the regulations are to all of us, they appear to be working. But they’ll stop working if we stop following them.

The regulations are, of necessity, not completely black-and-white. There’s no way to define in writing every possible interaction people may have. Some judgement will always be necessary.

Realtors, like other businesses deemed necessary, need to be careful in how they operate during this emergency. There are certain, very limited, types of real estate transactions which can proceed under the emergency regulations. But they are rare.

The vast majority of transactions are not allowed regardless of whether or not they are done mostly virtually or social distancing rules are followed. The emergency Health Order prohibits almost everyone from moving residences. In general, you can only move if you have no other reasonable choice, like escaping abuse or because your residence has become uninhabitable. Even then, a home cannot be shown if the residents still live there.

While that may seem unfair it is no different from the way all San Mateo County businesses have been restricted by the emergency. Even the ones deemed necessary. Operating a necessary business does not mean that every aspect of that business is necessary. In almost all cases only a limited subset of activities are allowed. That critical nuance needs to be respected, by everyone.

We can get through this by working together and following the emergency public health regulations. We are getting through this. Let’s not take the limited but growing success we’re enjoying as an opportunity to make things worse.

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