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Commercial Real Estate “Carved Into” Washington’s COVID-19 Reopening Plans

Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday issued updated guidance for reopening the state from COVID-19 shut-down orders. The latest Safe Start guidance covers sporting activities in Phases 2 and 3, as well as clarifies what’s allowed for commercial real estate operations. Twenty-seven counties have been approved to move to the next phase.

Specifically, under the orders issued in mid-March during Phase 1, commercial real estate was carved out of being deemed an essential business. Lee & Associates’ Candice Chevaillier, CCIM, notes, “The rationale was to allow only real estate activities to continue that were urgent in nature, mostly to allow individual home owners to be able to continue transacting and minimize their hardship.

“However, in not carving in commercial real estate activities, the proclamation essentially iced all commercial real estate brokerage activities out in the market. Some transactions that were already in process occurred, but for nearly 45 days, very few properties were brought to the market,” she adds.

The move to a Modified Phase 1 is critical for the industry because it allows commercial real Estate to proceed to Phase 2 Real Estate Guidelines. “Specifically this means that we can again operate out in the market,” Chevaillier says. “While there are some specific restrictions (see below), this essentially allows us to meet clients in person at properties, activities that are the lifeblood our business.”

Overview of compliance guidelines include:

-Commercial brokers may engage in the same in-person services as residential brokers
– All real estate firms may open their offices in a limited fashion
– King County will restrict the number of people in offices to 25% of fire code capacity and limit indoor, in-person meetings to 30 minutes
– Three persons are allowed on site for permitted in-person real estate activities for both residential and commercial brokerage (for both improved and unimproved property)
– Phase 2 in-person real estate activities, real estate brokers and industry partners (e.g. appraisers, inspectors, consultants, photographers, stagers, etc.) must wear cloth face coverings and should encourage clients and customers to do the same
– Public and broker open houses and similar invitations to view a property without an appointment are not permitted in Phase 2
– Only previews and showings by appointment are allowed
– Sign installers may install real estate marketing signs

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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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