Date: March 23, 2020
To: Elected Officials Representing Hamilton & Sequatchie Counties in Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade & Walker Counties in Georgia
Re: Request to Declare Real Estate Services as Essential Businesses to the Economy
On behalf of the nearly 2,500 Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®, we commend you for your leadership and the incredible diligence during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We also thank your Administration for their hard work and dedication during this unprecedented time.
The timeline of this pandemic and all the potential repercussions are unknown. Our priority, like yours, is the long-term health and safety of our communities, our friends, and our neighbors. In addition to health and safety concerns, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® is concerned about the potential impacts this pandemic will have on homeowners and other property owners in the process of buying and selling property, and therefore on the overall economy of our service area.
According to the latest research from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), each home sale in Tennessee generates $61,665 in economic impact while a home sale in Georgia generates $72,310 in economic impact. The expenditures that result from a single home sale includes home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending, and title insurance. In addition, NAR estimates that one (1) job is generated for every two (2) home sales. Using that ratio, 1,000 home sales generate 500 jobs. Obviously, a single home sale impacts more than just the individual(s) buying and selling that particular property. Real Estate impacts the economy in ways that most people do not even realize.
Similarly, industries assisting families seeking the shelter and security of a home be it for purchase or lease, must be considered “essential businesses” and all activity to acquire that necessity must be considered an “essential activity” to ensure the health, safety, and security of all our citizens seeking the shelter of a home. There are residents in our area that have leases ending that unless their homes close, will essentially be without a home.
With the possibility of shutdowns of local and state government services to come, we respectfully request that you minimize the potential interruptions to the real estate industry by declaring real estate services as “essential businesses” to the economy. These services, as previously mentioned, include, but are not limited to, title searches, permitting, inspections, construction, and especially the transfer and recordation of ownership.
The ability to close real estate transactions includes certain requirements and deadlines. The impact, both on the lives and finances of property owners, is substantial and can be avoided if essential services are allowed to continue. There will be enough economic harm from this pandemic without adding the shutdown of real estate transactions. We are not asking for in-person open houses or to allow large groups to gather, we are asking that real estate services be included as an important and essential part of our local workforce and that Buyers and Sellers who have made all of the logistical and financial preparations to move into their new homes, be allowed to do so.
Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® continues to closely monitor the situation and are providing guidance to our members to limit public exposure during the home buying process and providing tools to conduct business while practicing social distancing. We are also willing to assist local governments in their efforts to keep real estate functions proceeding. However, if shutdowns are required, they may not be able to do so. Thus, we implore you to include real estate services provided by the public and private sector as essential services in any local mandates. We also ask that all services you deem essential be exempt from additional or stricter local restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We understand this pandemic will have an impact on the real estate industry and the economy, but a complete shutdown of real estate services would be detrimental to our economy. If we can keep the processes running as smoothly as possible, we can work together to limit the negative effects on our community, its citizens, and the local economy.
Again, thank you for your service to our community and for your leadership during this challenging time.
Brandi Pearl Thompson