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The Real Estate Board of New York Issues Best Practices for Brokers & Agents to Safely Conduct Real Estate Transactions in New York City During Phase Two of the New York Forward Plan
June 9, 2020
Trade Association Provides Six Custom, Step-By-Step Guides for Brokers & Agents to Put Public Health and Safety First as New York City’s Real Estate Industry Heads Back to Work
REBNY Creates Industry’s First Health Screening Form to Ensure Safety of Real Estate Professionals and Consumers when Conducting Business
The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the City’s leading real estate trade association, today issued New York City’s most comprehensive guidelines to help facilitate safe and healthy real estate transactions during Phase Two of the New York Forward Plan. These best practices follow and build upon New York State’s interim recommendations for real estate services and will help residential and commercial brokers and agents comply with the State’s recommendations.
New York City began Phase One of the New York Forward Plan June 8, which included the resumption of nonessential construction and manufacturing, in addition to certain nonessential retail businesses. Commercial office buildings, office-based tenants and real estate services will restart operations in Phase Two of New York Forward. Under the New York Forward Plan, a region must operate for at least two weeks in any given phase before proceeding to the next phase.
“Protecting the health and safety of consumers, agents and brokers while simultaneously rebuilding our City’s economy is critically important. The real estate industry has traditionally relied on in-person interactions for much of its business, so the ongoing Coronavirus crisis has required our industry to rethink and retool to safely conduct business in the coming months,” said REBNY President James Whelan, who also serves on both Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board and Mayor de Blasio’s Reopening Advisory Council for the Construction and Real Estate Sector. “REBNY has taken the lead to work closely with stakeholders across various sectors to tailor these step-by-step guidelines, allowing the real estate community and the public to safely resume the leasing and sales transactions that keep New York City’s economic engine running.”
REBNY created a set of six guidelines for both commercial and residential transactions which outline best practices for office and retail leasing, commercial and residential sales, and residential rental and new development leasing and sales. These recommendations recognize the unique realities of New York City real estate and provide specific examples which illustrate how commercial and residential brokers can properly execute transactions in compliance with public health and governmental guidelines. REBNY’s best practices prepare and protect brokers and agents by providing concrete strategies guided by recommendations of governmental and public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health.
A summary of some of REBNY’s key guidelines for safely conducting real estate transactions in New York City include:
- Remember public health guidelines. Maintain at least six feet social distance for all in-person interactions. Clean and disinfect all frequently touched objects and surfaces. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wear appropriate face coverings during all in-person interactions. Stay home if you are sick and continue to check CDC, State and City guidelines for updates.
- Start virtually. Consider holding preliminary meetings with clients over the phone or via videoconference prior to viewing space in person. Share high-resolution photos, renderings or video clips that provide clear and specific descriptions of the physical attributes of the space.
- Conduct in-person business only when necessary. Use REBNY’s Limitation of Liability Form when coordinating in-person, on-site visits to a property with vendors or consumers. Consider implementing health screenings prior to in-person showings or tours using this Health Screening Questionnaire Form. Always comply with all building guidelines, which may include designated hours for tours, elevator usage and access to ancillary spaces.
- Regulate showings and events. If a building owner allows showings or events, brokers and agents should conduct them by appointment only with one party inside the property at a time. Showings will only be allowed in unoccupied or vacant properties.
- Due diligence. Use electronic means to share information, send proposals, sign contracts and “meet” with clients via videoconferencing to explain documents.
- Closing deals. Utilize a hybrid model of the “Escrow Closing” by delivering and signing documents prior to the closing. All in-person closings should be limited to essential parties only. Use audio-visual notarization and wire transfers whenever possible.
To enable the real estate community to take precaution and prevent the spread of Coronavirus, REBNY has created the industry’s first Health Screening Questionnaire Form included in these new brokerage guidelines. To protect the health and safety of New Yorkers, and to remain compliant with New York State’s updated guidance and Fair Housing rules and regulations, this form should be uniformly presented to and signed by all persons prior to attending in-person showings and meetings.
Download REBNY’s best practices for real estate transactions in Phase Two of New York Forward below:
- Best Practices for Conducting Office Leasing Transactions
- Best Practices for Conducting Retail Leasing Transactions
- Best Practices for Conducting Commercial Real Estate Sales Transactions
- Best Practices for Conducting Residential Real Estate Sales Transactions
- Best Practices for Conducting Residential Real Estate Rental Transactions
- Best Practices for Conducting New Development Residential Real Estate Leasing and Sales Transactions
You can also download New York State’s Interim Guidance for Real Estate Services During the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency here.
Along with a coalition of industry and real estate labor union leaders, REBNY also created comprehensive Best Practices for Reentering Commercial Buildings in Phase Two of New York Forward to help ensure protection of office tenants, building service workers, visitors and the general public. REBNY also worked closely with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the Building Trades Employers’ Association to inform the State’s guidance for the safe operation of construction projects. These and other resources for the real estate industry related to the Coronavirus pandemic are available on REBNY’s Coronavirus Resource Hub.
REBNY created its Coronavirus Resource Hub in March 2020 to provide a dedicated and centralized source of information to help individuals and businesses navigate the rapidly changing business climate during the Coronavirus crisis. The resource hub provides trusted information to support REBNY members, and the real estate industry and the public at large – regardless of membership status in the trade association – with critical details about how to get and give help during the pandemic. For more information about REBNY’s Coronavirus Resource Hub, please visit go.rebny.com/CoronavirusResources.
For more information about REBNY guidelines for Phase Two of New York Forward, please visit go.rebny.com/CoronavirusResources.
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ABOUT THE REAL ESTATE BOARD OF NEW YORK
The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association. Founded in 1896, REBNY represents commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, and salespeople; banks, financial service companies, utilities, attorneys, architects, and contractors; corporations, co-partnerships, and individuals professionally interested in New York City real estate. REBNY conducts research on various civic matters including tax policy, city planning and zoning, rental conditions, land use policy, building codes, and other city, state, and federal legislation. REBNY regularly publishes market data, policy reports, and broker surveys. In addition, REBNY provides for its members: informational, technical, and technological resources; networking and charitable service opportunities; qualifying and continuing education courses; professional education programs, seminars, and designations; career-changing awards; legal advice; and a wide range of additional member benefits. For more information, please visit www.REBNY.com.