Conducting Business While Sheltered In Place: FAQs

Published Tuesday, March 17, 2020

What is the Shelter in Place Order?


Who Does the Shelter in Place Order Apply to?


What are Essential Businesses?

  • For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” are:
  • Healthcare Operations and businesses that operate, maintain, or repair Essential Infrastructure;
  • Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of unprepared food, canned food, dry goods, non-alcoholic beverages, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, as well as hygienic products and household consumer products necessary for personal hygiene or the habitability, sanitation, or operation of residences. The businesses included in this subparagraph (ii) include establishments that sell multiple categories of products provided that they sell a significant amount of essential products identified in this subparagraph, such as liquor stores that also sell a significant amount of food.
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • Construction, but only of the types listed in this subparagraph below:
    • Projects immediately necessary to the maintenance, operation or repair of Essential Infrastructure;
    • Projects associated with Healthcare Operations, including creating or expanding Healthcare Operations, provided that such construction is directly related to the COVID-19 response;
    • Affordable housing that is or will be income-restricted, including multi-unit or mixed-use developments containing at least 10% income-restricted units;
    • Public works projects if specifically designated as an Essential Governmental Function by the lead governmental agency;
    • Shelters and temporary housing, but not including hotels or motels;
    • Projects immediately necessary to provide critical noncommercial services to individuals experiencing homelessness, elderly persons, persons who are economically disadvantaged, and persons with special needs;
    • Construction necessary to ensure that existing construction sites that must be shut down under this Order are left in a safe and secure manner, but only to the extent necessary to do so; and
    • Construction or repair necessary to ensure that residences and buildings containing Essential Businesses are safe, sanitary, or habitable to the extent such construction or repair cannot reasonably be delayed;
  • Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
  • Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair (including, but not limited to, for cars, trucks, motorcycles and motorized scooters), and automotive dealerships, but only for the purpose of providing auto-supply and autorepair services (and not, by way of example, car sales or car washes). This subparagraph (vii) does not restrict the on-line purchase of automobiles if they are delivered to a residence or Essential Business;
    • Bicycle repair and supply shops;
  • Banks and related financial institutions;
  • Service providers that enable residential transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, provided that appointments and other residential viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit (except that in person visits are not allowed when the occupant is still residing in the residence);
  • Hardware stores;
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the habitability, sanitation, and operation of residences and Essential Businesses, but not for cosmetic or other purposes;
  • Arborists, landscapers, gardeners, and similar service professionals, but only to the limited extent necessary to maintain the habitability, sanitation, operation of businesses or residences, or the safety of residents, employees, or the public (such as fire safety or tree trimming to prevent a dangerous condition), and not for cosmetic or other purposes (such as upkeep);
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  • Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
  • Funeral home providers, mortuaries, cemeteries, and crematoriums, to the extent necessary for the transport, preparation, or processing of bodies or remains;
  • Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate, but only to the extent that they support or supply these Essential Businesses. This exemption shall not be used as a basis for engaging in sales to the general public from retail storefronts;
  • Businesses that have the primary function of shipping or delivering groceries, food, or other goods directly to residences or businesses. This exemption shall not be used to allow for manufacturing or assembly of non-essential products or for other functions besides those necessary to the delivery operation;
  • Airlines, taxis, rental car companies, rideshare services (including shared bicycles and scooters), and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, children, and pets; xxiii. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
  • Professional services, such as legal, notary, or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with non-elective, legally required activities;
  • Services to assist individuals in finding employment with Essential Businesses;
  • Moving services that facilitate residential or commercial moves that are allowed under this Order;
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable owners, employees, volunteers, and contractors for Essential Businesses, Essential Governmental Functions, or Minimum Basic Operations to work as allowed under this Order. Children of owners, employees, volunteers, and contractors who are not exempt under this Order may not attend childcare facilities. To the extent possible, childcare facilities must operate under the following conditions:
  • Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable” means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day).
    Children shall not change from one group to another.
  • If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other. Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.

Is Real Estate listed as an "Essential Business?"



Marin County updated their Shelter in Place order to list real estate as an essential business on March 31, 2020. Here are the details:

The updated order clarifies a few things about how real estate can be conducted.

Quoting directly from the order, real estate is allowed to be practiced:
    • Service providers that enable residential transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, provided that appointments and other residential viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit (except that in person visits are not allowed when the occupant is still residing in the residence);
    • We will continue to work with county officials to seek clarifications on these guidelines and will update our FAQs to keep you informed. We encourage you to seek guidance from your Broker or Manager on liability issues and E&O guidelines

Moves are also allowed under the following circumstances: 

  • To move residences, but only if it is not possible to defer an already planned move, if the move is necessitated by safety, sanitation, or habitability reasons, or if the move is necessary to preserve access to shelter. When moving into or out of the Bay Area region, individuals are strongly urged to quarantine for 14 days. To quarantine, individuals should follow the guidance of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also listed as essential services are: 
  • Please note that even though real estate is now designated as an essential business, in-person open houses and MOST showings are not allowed under the order. 
  • Please read the order and consult with your broker before scheduling any in-person showings. We STRONGLY encourage you to review CAR's Guidelines for Real Estate Best Practices During COVID-19. Click here to review the guidelines.
  • We will continue to keep you updated as events unfold.


C.A.R. has also released several new forms to help you safely conduct business during the Stay-at-Home order. 

  • Click here to access the handouts and a recording of a C.A.R. Legal Live webinar discussing how to use the forms.
    The Marin REALTORS® association, NAR and C.A.R. all strongly urge you to conduct your showings and open houses virtually to ensure the safety of your clients, yourself and the community.

    We will continue to keep you updated as events unfold.


What Minimum Basic Operations Can I do for my business?

  • For the purposes of this Order, “Minimum Basic Operations” include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:
  • The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
  • The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.


What Does BAREIS Say About Virtual Tours?

  • Broker Tour and Open House Cancelled? Link to a Virtual Tour!
  • Because sellers and agents are cancelling broker tours and open houses to reduce exposure to COVID-19, BAREIS will temporarily allow virtual tour links to be posted in Broker Tour and Open House comment fields in addition to the Virtual Tour field. Once the broker tours and open houses resume, the links should be removed from the Broker Tour and Open House fields.
  • Find more information and resources about how BAREIS can help you through this time on their Resources Page.


What Does BAREIS Say About Days on Market?


What Options Do I Have For Managing My Listings?

The following is an excerpt from BAREIS communications

BAREIS Extending Coming Soon to 100 Days and Other Tips for Managing Your Listings

On top of all the other concerns during this COVID-19 outbreak, we understand that you have many questions regarding Days on Market and showing instructions. To help ease the burden placed on you, BAREIS MLS has been able to temporarily extend Coming Soon listings up to 100 days from the entry date. If you currently have a Coming Soon listing and desire to extend it, you will need to manually change your On Market Date. Listings in Coming Soon status do not count Days on Market, are viewable by BAREIS members and their clients, and do not pass to the internet.

Here are some other things that you can do right now:

  • You may set your listings to Temp Off Market if you still have an active listing agreement with your seller. DOM & CDOM count will pause while the listings are in Temp Off Market status.
  • You always have the option to set your Showing instructions to Do Not Show, Appointment Only or Contact Prior to Showing.
  • BAREIS MLS is here to assist you. Please let us know what other concerns you have at


The Benefits of the Temp Off Market Status:

  • Temp Off Market Status (WT) indicates there is a binding agreement between the listing broker and the seller and the listing may not be solicited by other brokers/agents.
  • Days on Market (DOM) and Cumulative Days on Market (CDOM) counts are paused for the WT period. The counter will resume when the listing is returned to Active or Contingent status.
  • You may indicate in the Confidential/Showing Instructions whether the seller will consider offers or allow showings during the WT period.
  • No exclusion is required for the WT period.
  • There is no time limit on how long a listing remains in WT status.
  • If the listing status was changed from Active to Temp Off-Market during the first 7 days that a listing is Active in BAREIS, staff will, upon written request from the listing agent, mark the listing as “new” when the listing is returned to Active status.


Are Title Companies Open?

  • Yes, many title companies are open, although staff may be working remotely.

Is the Marin County Recorder’s Office Open?

  • The Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk public counters are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the public shelter-in-place order. However, many of services can be accessed on-line, and staff is available to answer questions by phone and email. See the list below to learn how to access core services.
    Assessor’s Office: Call 415.473,7215 with Assessment questions or send emails to

  • Business Personal Property: Personal Property Statements are due April 1. The Late Penalty deadline is May 7.
    If you have questions, call 415.473,7208 or email

  • Recorder’s Offices:

  • Recording Services:
    Electronic Recording is available for authorized submitters, including title companies and government agencies.

    Recording Official Record Documents by Mail – Documents to be recorded can be sent via U.S. Mail or express mail service.

    Mailing address: P.O. Box C, San Rafael, CA 94913. For express shipping Express shipping address: 3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 232, San Rafael, CA 94903.

    Hand deliver to a Drop box available outside Room 232 during business hours (M-F 8-4). Call 415.473.6093 with Recording questions or send email to

    Vital Records / Copy Services:
    Order birth, death, and public marriage certificates for events that occurred in Marin County from our website at
    Copies of official records and recorded maps can also be ordered at
    Call 415.473.6395 with questions or send email to

    County Clerk:
    Renew unexpired fictitious business names and submit CEQA filings by mail. Send to 3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 232, San Rafael, CA 94903 or place in the drop box outside Room 232 during business hours (M-F 8-4).
    Call 415.473.6772 with County Clerk questions, or send email

Are other Bay Area Counties Recorder’s Offices Open?

What About Resale inspections?

What About Property Taxes?

  • The Marin County Tax Collector's Office is asking residents who can  pay their April 10th property taxes to do so on time. For taxpayers who must pay late, the Tax Collector's office is offering a Penalty Review process to take into consideration unforeseen events and circumstances including the COVID-19 public health crisis. Penalty Review waivers can be applied for online through May 15, 2020. If a waiver is granted, the tax payment will need to be submitted by June 10. Read the letter from the tax collector here.


Where Can I Find Information About Financial Relief for REALTORS®?


Where Can I Find the Latest Information From CAR?


Where Can I Find the Latest Updates From NAR?

Community News

Marin County Coronavirus FAQs: Real Estate
Monday, April 6, 2020
BAREIS Editorial: Showings, Counting DOM/CDOM and Off Market Listings During Pandemic
Friday, March 27, 2020
C.A.R. Statement on FHFA Appraisal and Income Verification Flexibility
Monday, March 23, 2020

All News

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