By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is allowing the real estate industry to restart some in-person business. It’s a huge boost to another industry severely upended by the pandemic.

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Realtor Vasili Barbounis is doing something he hasn’t been able to regularly do for the past two and a half months — showing a listing in-person at a home for sale.

He is an agent from Keller Williams in Philadelphia and the Center City Listings Team says the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the real estate industry.

“Everything changed, everything in terms of what you do in-person,” Babounis said.

Since mid-March, in-person showings have been prohibited. Many closings went virtual and the market considerably slowed.

“It hurt business. Numbers are down,” he said.

The silver lining — 3D and digital walkthroughs, like a Washington Square Village Condo, have taken the place of in-person viewings.

“This has become standard,” said Barbounis. “Virtual tours, Matterport 3D, renderings, floor plans, it’s all absolutely necessary.”

But now, Gov. Wolf is easing restrictions statewide, allowing in-person meetings with guidelines like:

  • No more than three people may be inside a property at a time, including the real estate agent
  • Everyone must wear masks and the home should be sanitized after each showing
  • Settlements and closing done in-person are limited to only the required signatories, their real estate agent and their legal counsel

Barbounis says his business is returning to some shade of normal because after all, not many people want to purchase a home sight unseen.

“Buying a home is a very personal thing. It’s an emotional thing,” he said.

He also says, all showings must be scheduled in advance and staggered to allow time for cleaning.

He believes more and more people will begin to get used to virtual and 3D tours.