Covid-19 continues to impact the Sequim real estate market for buyers and sellers, and of course, for Realtors, escrow companies, and title companies. What are the rules governing what we can and cannot do when showing homes or wanting to have an open house? Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has continued what they are calling “Phase 2,” and here are some of the changes coming in Phase 3.
Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced changes to “Safe Start,” Washington’s phased approach to reopening. The changes target activities that data have shown provide a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Under the new guidance, ceremonies will remain permitted, but receptions are prohibited. Ceremonies must adhere to current guidance. Maximum indoor occupancy is limited to 20%, or up to 30 people, whichever is less, as long as social distancing can be observed. The changes will take effect on Aug. 6, with a grace period for weddings and funerals previously scheduled.
Covid-19 effects restaurants. Restaurant indoor dining requires customers to be members of the same household. Outdoor dining and take-away remains available for customers from different households. Table size for dine-in in Phase 3 will be reduced to five individuals and occupancy reduced from 75% to 50%. Restaurants must also close gaming and social areas, such as pool tables, dart boards and video games. Bars will be closed for indoor service, but can continue outdoor service. Alcohol service inside of restaurants must end by 10 p.m. These regulations take effect on July 30.
Covid-19 effects fitness centers and recreation. The number of individuals allowed to use fitness centers and other physical health venues at the same time will also be reduced. In Phase 2, only five individuals, not including staff, will be allowed to work out. This includes gyms, fitness studios, indoor pools, ice rinks, volleyball courts, and tennis facilities. Fitness center occupancy in Phase 3 will be reduced to 25%. All group fitness classes will be limited to no more than 10, not including the instructors. The changes are effective July 30.
Indoor family entertainment and recreation centers, including mini golf, bowling alleys, and arcades, are prohibited from opening. Indoor movie theaters will be reduced from 50% to 25% occupancy in Phase 3.
Governor Inslee also extended the state’s tenant eviction moratorium to Oct. 15. We’ll learn more about that moratorium later. It’s amazing how much impact Covid-19 has had on our society.
In the real estate business, open houses are prohibited, and no more than two people can view a home at once. Realtors must schedule appointments ahead of time with listing agents, even if the home is known to be vacant. Masks must be worn by all prospective buyers while viewing the interior of a home, and the buyer’s agent must wear a mask, too.
Some sellers have declined to have their homes shown during the Covid-19 crisis, particularly elderly people or people with health issues which could reduce their immunities. Because the Sequim real estate inventory is so low, and because many buyers are escaping from California to Sequim, I am still showing homes and selling homes. Recently, I’ve been showing homes to clients who are out of town by using FaceTime as I walk through the home. I’ve written offers on homes this way, which you could also call “sight unseen” since the buyer never was in the home, apart from the FaceTime viewing. Covid-19 has changed everything.
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