Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

Open houses and in-person showings of properties for lease and sale are now strictly prohibited in Los Angeles County. On April 1st, Mayor Eric Garcetti released a revised version of the “Safer at Home” emergency order, which included the new provision. The California Association of Realtors (CAR) told the Los Angeles Times that the city “appears to be the only local entity yet that has gone that far.”

The move has caused widespread confusion among Los Angeles real estate agents. On March 28th, the US Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency published an updated list of critical infrastructure workers, deeming residential and commercial real estate services as “essential.” This list was adopted by California Governor Gavin Newsom, which led CAR to publish its own statement regarding the decision on March 4th. 

It’s still legal to buy or sell real estate in Los Angeles County, but those shopping for new digs will have to make do with virtual or 3D tours. A buyer would have to submit an offer with a check that’s placed in escrow just to step foot inside the home — a hard pill to swallow, especially when it comes to making the biggest purchase of your lifetime.

Further complicating matters is the fact that there are 88 incorporated cities within Los Angeles County. To evade the new law, determined buyers need only travel a few miles and adhere to social distancing guidelines. But Angelenos have been urged by city officials to stay home during this “critical week,” avoiding even grocery stores and pharmacies if possible. 

House hunting from your couch may not be ideal, but it’s the best way to save lives and flatten the curve.

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