Last week, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin penned an open letter to Congressional leaders requesting that real estate agents, the majority of whom are independent contractors, be included in the proposed coronavirus aid package.
While no one knows for certain whether Reffkin’s letter made it to the desk of Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, direct payment assistance and unemployment benefits will be granted to independent contractors, including gig workers and freelancers. Non-W2 employed workers traditionally would not have qualified for such payments.
At around 1 pm this afternoon, the House of Representatives voted to approve the $2 trillion stimulus bill. It will now be handed over to President Donald Trump, who has promised to sign it into law.
Eligible agents will receive federal unemployment assistance of $600 per week over a period of four months. There are perks for small business owners, too, in the form of delayed payroll taxes and loans.
All Americans with a social security number earning less than $75,000 per year will be granted a one-time payment of $1,200, plus $500 for each child under the age of 17. Married couples with a combined income of under $150,000 will receive a $2,400 check.
Individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 per year will accrue slightly less — the amount is reduced by $5 for every $100 in earned income above the threshold. These reduced one-time payments also apply to married couples with combined incomes of up to $198,000.
Real estate agents have been particularly hard hit during these uncertain times. In California and New York, agents were not deemed essential workers under the statewide stay-at-home orders, causing in-person showings and open houses to come to an abrupt halt.
“None of us knows how long this crisis will last, but we do know that for real-estate agents, the economic pain will last even longer than it will for those in many other professions,” wrote Reffkin in his open letter to Congress. “As independent contractors who are not compensated until after a home sale closes, agents will not begin earning back lost revenue until many months after both the financial and housing markets stabilize.”
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also lobbied for the inclusion of vulnerable industry workers in the aid package. “We worked with the drafters of this legislation to ensure that independent contractors and those living on a commission-based income will be eligible for the loans as well as the forgiveness provision,” said Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of government affairs for NAR. “The real estate industry is responsible for millions of jobs and is key to our national recovery.”