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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

April 3, 2020

"Essential Business" Defined for Real Estate Industry

Previously, NYS Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.8 requiring all non-essential businesses and not-for-profits to “reduce the in-person workforce at any work locations by 100 percent.” Governor Cuomo also implemented the “New York State on PAUSE” policy, which allows “essential businesses” to implement social-distancing rules as the businesses continue to provide services at work locations. 

Most recently, in a statement on April 2, 2020, the Empire State Development (ESD) agency further refined “essential” relating to real estate brokers. While the real estate industry is “essential,” the operation of “essential” businesses and services is not business as usual. 

As explained by ESD, the real estate industry is limited to virtual property showings, home inspections, and residential appraisals. When appraisers and home inspectors require access to a property, personal contact should be minimized. Open houses are not permitted as they invite larger social gatherings. Further, back-office real estate work, though essential, should be performed using telecommuting and work-from-home methods to the extent possible. Consequently, brokers can oversee transactions and document execution at their offices but should follow social-distancing protocols. The ESD’s most recent statement came after substantial input from members of the real estate industry.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Corey Auerbach, partner, at cauerbach@barclaydamon.com; Jeff Palumbo, partner, at jpalumbo@barclaydamon.com; Ari Goldberg, associate, at agoldberg@barclaydamon.com; or another member of the firm’s Land Use & Zoning or Real Estate Practice Areas.

We also have a specific team of Barclay Damon attorneys who are actively working on assessing regulatory, legislative, and other governmental updates on non-trademark-related COVID-19 matters and who are prepared to assist clients. You can reach our COVID-19 Response Team at COVID-19ResponseTeam@barclaydamon.com.

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