Can you buy or sell a house during the COVID-19 crisis?

Governor Inslee issued a statewide, “Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order,” which became effective midnight on Wednesday, March 25th to limit the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This indefinite order requires the closure of all “non-essential critical infrastructure” businesses. Workers who are considered non-essential must work only from their home.

On Saturday, March 28th, Governor Inslee issued certain modifications for the residential real estate industry which acknowledge the importance of providing housing to the public. The Governor’s directive balances housing needs with the over-riding importance of protecting public health through staying home and social distancing.

The real estate brokerage industry shares the Governor’s priorities. The industry’s paramount concerns are safety of the public and the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Accordingly, real estate brokers will limit personal interactions to the greatest extent possible and will engage in-person only when necessary, and by following these strict protocols:

• In-person activities must be by appointment only;

• No more than two people, including the broker, may be at the property at any one time; and

• Those two persons must strictly follow social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.

Real estate brokers, who strictly follow the above protocols are permitted to engage in the following in-person activities related to the purchase and sale of homes:

• Conduct listing presentations, take property photos, and create virtual tours for new listings;

• Facilitate signing of contract documents;

• Preview and show listings by appointment only; and

• Facilitate inspections, appraisals, buyer “walk-throughs,” and key delivery.

All other real estate brokerage services will be limited to services that the broker can provide from the broker’s home.

There are risks associated with leaving the safety of your home and viewing homes for sale, as well as having prospective buyers enter your home. Buyers and sellers must be attentive to, and abide by, the mandates and guidelines from public health officials and work with their real estate broker to make informed decisions about listing, selling, and purchasing real property. Brokers will exercise their best judgment under the circumstances to provide advice regarding all aspects of the current real estate market.

Updated information about COVID-19 is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website ( and from the Washington State Department of Health’s website (www. If you have specific questions about health concerns related to COVID-19, you should consult with a health professional.

For more information about buying or selling a home, be sure to work with a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Snohomish County Camano Association of Realtors® is the voice for real estate in Snohomish County. If you have questions for The Expert about real estate email us at, or by visiting

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