What does it mean to be an "essential service"?
Many have asked what it means to be considered an "essential service". Ultimately, your state executive order setting forth such designation will have the answer and it is imperative that you adhere to the order exactly as prescribed. The attached spreadsheet includes links to the state orders.
In general, being deemed an essential service means that you have been included on a list of dozens of industries and workers deemed to play a critical role in your community by ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.
It means you have the special responsibility and opportunity to continue operations if you choose to but not if you don't.
It means you have the special responsibility and mandate to adhere to your state's executive order regarding "essential services".
It means you have the special responsibility and mandate to take all necessary health and safety precautions, including those mandated in the state executive order such as holding no in-person showings, limiting all other in person activity, and observing social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC.
It means that individuals with immediate housing needs can be served by a real estate professional – whether those needs arise from pending transactions or sudden change in economic stability from job loss or uncertain future.
It means that we all have a special responsibility to lead by example, to do what we think is best for our communities and ourselves, and to do what we think best for the reputation of the industry. I cautiously assert that regardless of whether your state deems "real estate" to be an essential service, that following your state's order is a basic requirement for all and that actually doing so makes you neither good nor bad, but compliant.
Please, know your state's order and follow it. Decide for yourself whether or not to continue working if permitted in your state and avoid criticizing those who make a different decision. And remember, REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which is the foundation of our Code of Ethics, embodied in the Golden Rule, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you."
Be well and stay safe.
General Counsel & Chief Member Experience Officer | Legal Affairs & Member Experience
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®