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Are Real Estate Appraisers “Essential” Workers?

New York City

Covid-19, essential workers, co-op and condo boards, real estate appraisers.

Builders of luxury condo towers are "essential" workers. Real estate appraisers are not.

March 27, 2020

Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo left real-estate appraisers and inspectors off the list of workers deemed “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic, sales of New York real estate have slowed to a crawl. To further tighten the screws, many co-op and condo boards have banned or limited outsiders from entering their buildings – including deliverymen and contractors, as well as appraisers and inspectors.

A coalition of five real estate and professional appraisals organizations is now appealing to local and state governments, including New York’s, to declare property appraisals as essential business, the Real Deal reports.

The coalition is asking governments to “minimize the potential interruptions to the real estate markets, and more specifically interruptions to the provision of appraisal services, by declaring real estate services as ‘essential services’ under any emergency powers declaration.” The authors include the National Association of Realtors and the American Society of Appraisers, the largest professional association of appraisers. They argue that classifying real estate appraisals as essential will help the economy by facilitating new mortgages and refinancing of mortgage loans. The coalition also said that real estate appraisers will “minimize physical interactions,” a key strategy in stemming the spread of coronavirus.

In a related story, Gov. Cuomo has indicated that he is open to changing his executive order of last week that exempted all construction from a ban on employees of non-essential businesses reporting to work. Construction has continued throughout the city, even as criticism has mounted over the lack of distinction between emergency work and the construction of high-rise luxury condo towers that nobody wants to buy.

Some city officials have been calling for a restriction on the types of construction that are considered essential, which, they say, should include building healthcare facilities, infrastructure and emergency construction. Some sites have temporarily shut down, including major infrastructure projects, after workers tested positive for Covid-19.

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