A real estate attorney says new COVID-19 safety regulations imposed on agents and brokers operating in Dallas County are unconstitutional.
The county recently loosened rules to allow showings as long as several steps are taken.
If the order is violated, realtors could face fines, jail time or be banned from operating in the county, according to the county’s amended order.
The county states all realtors and their employees involved in essential real estate activity must follow the rules:
1. Open Houses are prohibited
2. All realtors and their employees (hereafter referred to as “realtors”) must take their temperature at their residence prior to any real estate showing. If an agent has a temperature above 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit, they are prohibited from participating in any real estate showings and must remain at their residence
3. Realtors and clients must travel to showings in separate vehicles
4. Realtors, clients, and homeowners must follow the six-foot social distancing rule at all times
5. Realtors and staff should limit in-person contact and conduct business remotely as much as possible
6. Realtors must wear a protective mask and provide new, unused protective masks to clients when touring a site
7. Employers must designate a COVID-19 safety monitor at each real estate office who has the authority to enforce these rules;
“It makes realtors, real estate agents, brokers look like people who need to be policed, like they need to be babysat,” said Christopher Sullivan. “And I’ll tell you that’s the further thing from the truth. You have to be a licensed professional to provide these services and they can keep people safe.”
On Tuesday, Sullivan sent Judge Clay Jenkins a letter calling the rules vague, too restrictive and even unconstitutional.
Sullivan agrees ‘Open Houses’ should be banned for the safety of both client and agent, but he argues smaller offices don’t have resources for safety monitors.
“It’s just unequal treatment for realtors,” he said.
Sullivan’s biggest issue is with the requirement for realtors to wear protective masks and to provide new masks for clients.
“There’s no definition of a protective face masks so it leaves it up to interpretation,” he said. “Why are they [agents] required to be using these masks and providing them to their customers when no one else is? That for me is my number one problem.”
Realtor Caralee Gurney with Coldwell Banker Apex has increased virtual showings, asked clients not to touch doors and packed wipes and gloves but said masks are often hard to find.
“It’s really hard to follow those guidelines when it’s hard to find the supplies to help you do that,” she said.
Paul and Tiffany Milan of Keller Williams Realty said they’ve been stocking up on safety equipment weeks ago.
“You don’t know who has it and who does,” said Paul Milan.
“I think they [rules] should be followed very closely,” added Tiffany Milan.
Sullivan also sent the letter to county commissioners and believes the county should follow the state’s order that does not require these rules of realtors.
NBC 5 asked Judge Clay Jenkins for an interview to address the issue.
Jenkin’s spokesperson sent NBC 5 the following statement:
“The recent loosening of the rules around the provision of essential real estate services were drafted in consultation with the DFW Metro-Texas Association of Realtors and balance the need to provide an important service with the paramount needs of public health as we respond to this global pandemic.”