Below is a statement from RECA regarding real estate agent services as an essential service (issued March 28, 2020):
The Government of Alberta has deemed real estate agent services, and services that provide access to credit, stocks or other forms of liquidity or finance to individuals, groups or businesses to be essential services. This exempts licensed real estate and mortgage professionals from restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak, as long as they follow all public health guidelines, including physical distancing measures.
This means brokerages will not need to shut down operations at this time. Albertans rely on these professional services, and brokerages are encouraged to remain open.
"RECA's mandate is first and foremost to protect the public, and it remains our highest priority," said Duane Monea, Administrator of the Real Estate Council of Alberta. "By being deemed an essential service, real estate and mortgage professionals have been given a great responsibility in assisting Albertans during this crisis. I am confident the industry will meet the challenge, and adapt their business practices in order to protect the health and safety of the public."
Firstly, professionals must ensure they explain to their clients the impacts of COVID-19 in their real estate or mortgage transaction, and discuss all options together with their advantages and disadvantages, so their clients can make informed decisions. Professionals can be a reliable source of information on minimizing any health risks involved in trading in real estate or dealing in mortgages at this time. Professionals should point clients to RECA's COVID-19 for Real Estate Consumers' website.
Secondly, professionals must also assess their own risk, and remain vigilant to their health, the health of their clients, and the health of their colleagues. They must take steps to minimize their health risks and stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Real estate and mortgage professionals must follow the direction and guidance of Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19," continued Monea. "Professionals must have honest discussions with their clients about the risks during a real estate transaction or mortgage deal, and must explore alternatives to minimize that risk."
Review the industry-focused COVID-19 and Real Estate webpage for information on discussions with sellers and buyers, along with FAQs and specific information for mortgage brokers, on amending contracts, and for residential and commercial property managers.
"I also want to thank the various trade associations for the work they are doing to reduce risk, in particular the Alberta Real Estate Association in respect to the holding of open houses," said Monea. "Open houses pose an unreasonable risk to real estate professionals and the public."
RECA will continue to update all industry professionals and the public if any further directives from the government will impact the industry, and offer advice on how to continue offering the high level of service the Alberta public expects.
RECA will continue operations as the Government of Alberta has deemed all enforcement and regulatory services as essential.