Michigan construction, real estate industries re-open today after coronavirus shutdowns
A road work ahead sign alerts motorists on M-13 during the coronavirus outbreak on Monday, April 20, 2020. In Bay County, the MDOT will resume work on M-13 from North Street in the city of Pinconning to the Arenac County line.Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com
The jackhammers are oiled and the “sold” signs are ready.
Michigan’s construction, real estate and other “low-risk” industries have gotten the go-ahead to restart business Thursday, May 7. Previously deemed nonessential commercial activity, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suspended real estate and nonessential construction March 23 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
They’ll now reemerge with new safety rules and guidelines in place.
As of February, Michigan had 182,000 workers in the construction industry, according to the Michigan Industry Employment report. There are 42,419 real estate agents, 9,942 associate brokers, 11,348 brokers and 716 branch real estate offices in the state, according to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
“We’re happy,” said Maureen Francis, president of Michigan Realtors and an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel in Birmingham. “Michigan and Pennsylvania has the most restrictive executive orders in the country. Other states, realtors were deemed essential; they were not in Michigan, so we were not allowed to leave our houses to do anything …
“That’s pretty limiting when you typically meet with the public to show houses or whatnot.”
On the eve of the real estate market’s reopening, Francis said she’s “booked,” and expects other agents and brokers are negotiating equally busy itineraries as the market comes back to life.
Michigan Realtors, which represents nearly 34,000 real estate professionals, submitted a list of proposed safety guidelines to the governor before she announced she would allow the industry to reopen.
“We kind of took the best of everybody’s (guidelines from other states) and made those as a proposal to the governor,” Francis said. ”
Many of those guidelines are now in place industry-wide. Similarly, the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on Wednesday released guidelines for construction companies to follow.
While both industries resurface, it won’t be business as usual.
Among the new real estate guidelines are the following:
No “open houses.”
The maximum number of people allowed at a property simultaneously is four.
No showing rental properties until the tenants have vacated.
Maintain 6-foot social distancing recommendations.
Sellers are asked to disinfect surfaces, open doors and cupboards, and leave lights on in preparation for a showing.
Buyers are discouraged from touching surfaces during showings.
Agents and clients are urged to arrive at showings separately.
Post-showing discussions should take place over the phone or by email.
New construction guidelines:
Workers and patrons must be at least six feet from one another at a job site, to the maximum extent possible.
Designated site supervisors should enforce COVID-19 controls.
Hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations should be provided at work sites.
Entry points or other indicators should be established, if possible, to assure all workers are health-screened every day.
Full guidelines for construction companies can be viewed here.
Francis said she expects the market to rebound.
“We had a shortage of supply going into this … and that’s why prices had steadily risen,” she said. “There were bidding wars and things like that in many segments of the market prior to COVID-19. Interest rates are at a historic low.
“We still saw demand going on during the shutdown. Especially coming out of this, we’re expecting that things will be quite brisk. It’s nothing like the financial crisis and last recession.”
COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS
In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.
Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.
Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while inside enclosed, public spaces.
Read all of MLive’s coverage on the coronavirus at mlive.com/coronavirus.
Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.