The California Association of Realtors announced over the week real estate has been established as an essential industry in the state.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA, updated its list of essential services, which included real estate. This list is being used to determine the state’s essential services.

The order now includes residential and commercial real estate, including settlement services as essential services in California. 

City and county restrictions, though, still take precedent over state and federal guidelines. If a city or county has an order with a more restrictive standard regarding  essential services, or any restrictions on what can be done, those guidelines take precedent.

The association stated on March 20 when real estate was a nonessential service that all face-to-face sales should be halted. But the association still stressed existing protocols for protecting against the spread of COVID-19 must be followed, otherwise the rules could be changed, including removing real estate as an essential service.  The association added this could mean all real estate activity being restricted or stopped.

The association’s economist, Leslie Appleton Young, stated on Facebook: “Of paramount importance is that any activities be undertaken with the strictest adherence to health and safety guidelines.”

The association stated all CDC and local health mandates should be followed. The guidelines include stating no open houses should be held and showings should be done virtually.

The assocaition’s statement is as follows: “Notwithstanding this new development, all real estate licensees must take into account the health and safety of their clients and fellow licensees, and follow the existing protocols for protecting against the spread of COVID-19. If such health safeguards and protocols are not followed, the rule for the state could easily change to stop or restrict all real estate activity. To that end, in conformity with current health guidelines, real estate licensees should follow all CDC and local health mandates.”

The state’s economy has taken a hard hit as a record 189,809 filed jobless claims for the week of March 21. Many people have also stopped house hunting and the number of new escrows has fallen.

In addition the association has stated the essential designation doesn’t mean business as usual. And some realtors are actually wary of the designation as they’re concerned about their own health.

It seems the asking price those selling homes in Porterville hasn’t been impacted yet by the coronavirus. Four-bedroom homes in Porterville listed on Zillow in the last couple of weeks have been listed in the $280,000 to $385,000 price range. And a four-bedroom house in Springville has been listed for $1.3 million.

But the price of a four-bedroom house in Springville listed on Zillow has been cut by $4,900 since it was listed to $185,000.

Before the coronavirus crisis, Zillow was high on Porterville’s home market. The median home value in Porterville at the end of 2019 was $210,658, an increase of 5 percent over the past year. Before the coronavirus crisis, Zillow expected home prices to increase another 5.9 perceent this year.

The percent of delinquent mortgages in Porterville was also 1.o percent, lower than the national average of 1.1 percent., which is lower than the national value of 1.1%. But the percentage of  homeowners underwater on their mortgages, meaning they owe more than their home is worth was higher in Porterville at 10.1 percent as oposed to 9.4 percent for the Visalia-Porterville Metro area.

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