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Real Estate Brokers Essential in NYC

New York state has reclassified the real-estate industry as an essential business, allowing brokers to resume certain aspects of their jobs and generating both relief and anxiety within the New York City brokerage community.

Under this new interpretation clarified by state officials on Thursday, participants in the real-estate business, including inspectors and appraisers, can now go to properties. Brokers can oversee transaction signings in person while practicing social distancing by standing at least 6 feet apart. Apartment showings can resume, but they must be virtual.

Previously, New York state hadn’t included real estate as an essential business. But the Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm, reversed its classification after being lobbied by some members of the real-estate industry, people familiar with the matter said.

“Brokers can only transact business in their offices or show properties virtually, and anything else is off limits,” said a spokesman with Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm.

For some, the idea that real-estate agents would have clients cycle through properties even while observing social distancing and cleanliness standards, raised safety concerns and questions about whether that would be possible.


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