While it may not be business as usual, Nevada Realtors are still busy helping people buy and sell homes during this pandemic.
As the statewide association representing more than 18,000 Realtors throughout Nevada, we have issued more than 12 legal articles and numerous updates to those articles since March guiding the activity of local real estate agents during all phases of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s emergency orders issued since this pandemic hit our state in March.
Fortunately, real estate continues to be considered “essential” and has been allowed to continue operating in Nevada during this public health crisis.
Of course, we have adapted the way we go about the business of helping people buy and sell homes to comply with all public health rules and recommendations and COVID-19 precautions. Examples include wearing face coverings, practicing proper social distancing, limiting all gatherings to fewer than 50 people, and doing all we can to protect our most vulnerable people.
NVR has also issued a “Guidance for the Operation of Real Estate Brokerages” document for all brokers and agents visiting their offices, as well as for clients and customers entering a brokerage office for any reason. The rules follow the state’s directives on reopening, which extend telephonic, virtual and work-from-home operations.
Specifically, we have advised that all workspaces should be reconfigured to provide for proper social distancing of at least 6 feet, proper sanitization procedures be implemented and touchless systems should be used where feasible. We have emphasized that personal protective equipment is essential for all employees and their clients and must be provided. As mandated recently by Gov. Sisolak, we have also been reminding our members and their clients to wear face coverings in public and when entering homes, offices and other buildings.
On the sales front, Realtors continue help their clients buy and sell homes. For homes occupied by sellers and for vacant properties, real estate agents can show homes by appointment. However, keep in mind that open house events are still not allowed in Nevada. Instead, a buyer’s agent can easily contact the seller’s agent and arrange a showing while following all public health precautions.
For homes occupied by tenants, agents can’t offer in-person showings to prospective buyers. But with the consent and participation of the tenants living in the home, real estate agents can offer virtual showings based on photos and videos created by the tenant.
If a tenant-occupied property is in contract for sale, entry into the home for services, such as appraisals and inspections is still allowed, but these services need to be performed with the utmost caution. This allows for the normal course of sales to continue for tenant-occupied homes as well.
Finally, NVR supports Gov. Sisolak’s June 25 directive to gradually lift the state’s ban on evictions and foreclosures, allowing them to proceed when warranted starting Sept. 1. This is a step in the right direction to creating the phased-in approach to ending the moratorium that we have been suggesting. We recognize that the state needs to balance the health and safety of Nevada’s tenants with the needs of property owners and managers.
We are also glad to see that in conjunction with this directive, Gov. Sisolak announced a $50 million statewide rental assistance program funded with federal CARES Act dollars. The program will be funded with federal Coronavirus Relief Funds, with $30 million earmarked for residential rental assistance and $20 million set aside for commercial rental relief.
In addition, we appreciate the state implementing a repayment plan form that can be easily utilized by property managers and the mom-and-pop landlords throughout Nevada who have struggled during these difficult times. Our goal through this process has been to create a pathway for Nevada property owners to gain access to the courts and mitigate damages, all while keeping tenants in their homes and making sure homeowners have the ability to pay their mortgages.
Overall, home sales continue to proceed in the COVID-19 era. Fortunately for all of us, Realtors continue to find ways to adapt their business practices to help clients buy and sell homes safely in these uncertain times.
Chris Bishop is the president of the Nevada Realtors, formerly known as the Nevada Association of Realtors (NVAR), is a professional trade association with more than 18,000 members committed to protecting, promoting and preserving our communities. Visit nevadarealtors.org.