Housing industry businesses waiting to see if they're considered "essential jobs"

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(WSAW) -- Gov. Tony Evers left a lot of industries in limbo after a series of tweets Monday about how essential jobs will continue to be allowed to work. During the afternoon coronavirus briefing, he said he will release which jobs are considered essential in Wisconsin during the pandemic Tuesday after speaking with businesses.

Several questions were asked about the construction industry during the briefing, but no clear answer at this time as to whether construction crews could continue.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association recently released a report finding that Wisconsin is not keeping up with the workforce home demand, meaning the state does not have enough homes to meet the needs of the workforce in the area; that includes types of housing and affordable pricing. It also found new home construction declined in 2019 by about 8% from 2018.

"There's a lot of insecurities with people in the buying right now. We have had a couple of people that have backed away and want to just wait and see what happens," Jeff Marg, a RE/MAX Excel salesman, and Denyon Homes realtor said.

He explained there is still a big demand for homes.

"We're still staying pretty busy because of the interest rates being so low, you know they were under 3% last week for a 30-year fixed," Marg said.

During 2019, it was a strong seller's market and he said that probably will not change anytime soon.

"The seller's market is still really good because we have such a low inventory of homes right now in Marathon County that most homes are lasting 12-24 hours and they're getting multiple offers," he said.

Unless the governor says otherwise, Marg said Denyon Homes is still plugging along, building 25-30 homes right now and working to sell the homes and plots while following state and federal guidelines, including constantly sanitizing and doing things virtually or by phone when possible.

"As far as the building end of it, we're still moving right along," he said. "Most of the guys are hoping to keep working, just like everybody, but they're outside and most of the crews are small crews, two-four-men crews. So, we're just hoping to keep moving and we'll know more in the next 24-hours."

The housing industry has a lot of businesses and pieces that would need to be considered essential and able to keep working in order for the buying, selling, and building of homes to continue. That includes banks to be able to issue loans, title and closing companies to finish out the process, municipalities to issue building permits, and contractors to put the essential home elements together.

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions issued emergency guidance on remote notarization, allowing notarization to happen remotely by live audio and video connection.