Real Estate Agents Deemed Essential Workers Worry About Spread Of Coronavirus

Sophia Hall
April 03, 2020 - 3:37 pm

MINEOLA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Real estate agents are being considered essential workers in the state of New York amid the coronavirus pandemic, but some say the ruling is putting lives at risk.

Real estate operations had previously been considered nonessential under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s PAUSE order.

However, Empire State Development on Wednesday revised that order saying real estate showings, appraisal services, home inspections and back-office real estate work are essential businesses.

While some real estate brokers took the revision as a call to service, others were not happy about the designation.

“I mean how can they consider showing houses an essential service,” says Lisa Kennedy, a real estate agent for 20 years from Eric G. Ramsey and Associates on Long Island.

She believes after thousands of agents filed for unemployment benefits the agents went from non-essential to essential workers.

‘There will always be agents that will not really care and go out and do it. Especially if we’re not gonna get unemployment benefits and somebody is really suffering. They are going to go out and they are going to show these houses and the virus is going to spread,” Kennedy said.

In a statement the Long Island Board of Realtors says agents still have to comply with social distancing guidelines and agents do not have to conduct any functions if they believe they are putting themselves at risk.

Kennedy says that still doesn’t prevent people from leaving germs in a home where people may still be residing.

“Like they’re doing drive-by Happy Birthdays to grandma, but you’re asking me, a stranger, to go into grandma’s house,” she said.

Agents are not automatically eliminated from unemployment benefits, the board also says.