The other day Gov. Cuomo began allowing areas upstate to begin opening up certain businesses and I am quite sure that the Realtors in those towns finally had a smile come back on their faces once again. He shut down real estate by executive order on March 20. It is now going on two months and I believe I can say for all of us that we are getting not only antsy staying in place but nervous, for we need to get back to earning a living.
I do not know how many of us received money from the first stimulus package and I would like to hear from those who did. Although we are allowed to take photos and videos with no one present at the property, 3D virtual tours are only limited to those real estate companies that possess the necessary equipment or those professional videographers who have been issued a permit on a case-by-case basis by Empire State Development as an essential business. However, we can take photos and videos, as long as we have permission to do so by the seller with no one present.
I am 110 percent sure that Long Island Brokers and agents would also be happier if we, too, were able to begin getting back into the swing of things. Have you mastered how to take quality photos and videos with your cell? Top-notch agents are already proficient at this, which has become the “new norm” for marketing and selling properties via the Internet but unfortunately without any physical showings for now. Over the years taking high-resolution pictures and videos to spark consumer interest has been the No. 1 way to go. But lately, there has been a paradigm shift and sellers, and especially buyers, have to be in the groove of feeling comfortable with this new way of selling and buying and realize this is our only option currently until we are allowed to begin showing again.
Unfortunately, Gov. Cuomo said Long Island’s numbers tracking those being infected and requiring hospitalization as well as deaths per 100,000 are not at the safe level that Phase II (which includes professional services, finance and insurance, all retail, administrative support and real estate/rental leasing) stipulates and requires to allow us to begin showing property. No one can predict how long that will take and I am guessing maybe on or before June 15?
My belief is that one of the issues contributing to our not being ready is the fact I still see people, especially those in their teens, 20s and 30s as well as older individuals not wearing masks. Last Saturday it was 86 degrees and everyone was finally enjoying the fabulous weather that was bestowed upon us. I saw several groups of people who had let their guard down (or maybe could care less about other people’s health nearby!) congregating in close proximity at Steppingstone Park in Great Neck and I am quite sure this has been happening all over Long Island and Queens, too.
This disregard and non-caring display of selfishness is not helping the numbers to decrease, enabling brokers, agents and other businesses to be able to have some kind of normalcy and to be able to get back to performing our professions. Even seeing discarded gloves and masks on various streets repulses and disgusts me to no end and I cannot fathom one good reason why anyone would do this, especially when there are trash cans nearby or they could carry a plastic bag with them, just like one does when they pick up after their dogs. I ask myself, why is this such a difficult task?
Also, have those who don’t wear masks been tested? Do they think that they are safe from others or maybe they are non-symptomatic and don’t know it, possibly infecting others nearby, or within their family, who several days later would become ill and possibly die? Some may think that this is a joke or hoax as I have seen and read. But all those who are not taking this pandemic seriously and not abiding by the rules of wearing masks and gloves when outside near others are not only hurting our business but are dealing a direct blow to all businesses on Long Island especially those in the service industry which is a major component of our local economy, i.e., restaurants, bars, hotels, catering facilities, concert halls, movie theaters.
Due to the insufficient amount of testing kits and testing, no one truly knows who is infecting who and although many who are contracting Covid-19 are staying in place, it’s when they are leaving their homes and going to supermarkets, takeouts, parks or even on walks that they may be coming In contact with someone who just may have sneezed nearby or is already infected. In order for our numbers to reach the lower threshold (14 days of consistent lowering of hospitalizations and deaths), we all must be extremely careful to wear our masks and gloves, and carry hand sanitizers to safeguard us and others in getting the coronavirus.
Everyone in real estate should be planning in advance. Upon setting up appointments, all clients must be asked if they have masks (or at least some type of facial coverings) as well as gloves or the agent should have an ample supply of both to provide to those parties. All clients would meet at the properties in separate vehicles. Everyone must wear masks and gloves when showing and entering homes. Another suggestion would be to have booties available for everyone’s feet to keep as much dirt and debris from entering any home. Also, sellers would be outside.
What is most tantamount is that brokers would be the only ones to open and close doors, cabinets, and anything else that a purchaser would need and want to see. Also, disinfectant wipes and/or hand sanitizers would be an absolute necessity and everything opened or touched would need to be wiped and disinfected before leaving. The New York State Association of Realtors in conjunction with The National Association of Realtor’s has enacted specific procedures and in conjunction with the governor’s office will have well-defined guidance for Realtors. I have mentioned some of the most crucial things that absolutely would need to be done to keep everyone safe and healthy. Inspections and appraisals could be handled in the same fashion using the same precautions as when showing. I hope we will begin the process soon to safeguard everyone’s health and economic and financial future.
Philip A. Raices is the owner/Broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 in Great Neck. He has earned designations as a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (G.R.I.) and also as a Certified International Property Specialist (C.I.P.S). Just email or snail mail (regular mail) him with your ideas and suggestions on future columns with your name, email, and cell number and he will call or email you back. For a consultation, he can be reached by cell: (516) 647-4289 or by email: Phil@TurnKeyRealEstate.Com to answer any of your questions or concerns.