Realtor® Legal Tip – I’ve compiled a list of do’s and dont’s and other legal considerations to be aware of when conducting your business amid COVID-19.
March 30, 2020
Author: Curtis Bullock
Realtor® Legal Tip – I’ve compiled a list of do’s and dont’s and other legal considerations to be aware of when conducting your business amid COVID-19. Questions that I am hearing. These tips are in accordance with the directives from SL County which deemed real estate as an essential service and the “stay safe, stay home” directive from the State.
- Stay safe, stay home – when possible work from home.
- Yes, as Realtors® you can go out into the community when necessary.
- Do not drive in the car with your client. The SL County directive specifically prohibits this.
- Yes, you can show a home to a client. Simply follow safe social distancing protocols by wiping surfaces, disinfecting, asking people not to touch anything in the house.
- Can you do photography? Yes. Just use common sense and follow the guidelines.
- Open Houses? I would seriously consider whether doing this makes sense now. If you must for whatever reason, follow your broker and NAR guidelines. Only allow 1 or 2 people in the home at a time, wipe down surfaces, ask people not to touch anything, turn the lights on and open doors so people don’t have to. Follow safe social distancing. Consider doing video tours instead. Please don’t anyone put hate comments below about open houses. Everyone is doing their best.
- My seller doesn’t want anyone in the home – what do I do? Follow the wishes of your seller. Do virtual tours, videos etc. But also refer your seller to any CDC info. From what I’ve read the virus is mainly spread by touching a surface that is infected, then touching your eyes, mouth or ears. We are not medical experts but help guide your sellers to the best medical info you can so they can make an informed decision. Personally I believe a home can be safely shown right now if safety protocols are taken.
- Must the seller and buyer sign the UAR Covid-19 addendum? No. Remember from prior posts, this is a tool and can be used as a starting point for negotiation and to simply encourage a dialogue between the parties. The Covid-19 addendum simply allows for a mutual extension of deadlines if needed and alleviates the stress of someone wanting to go under contract but is having reservations about it. If your broker has their own specific form that is perfectly fine.
- Should we have our buyers or sellers sign a hold harmless agreement when someone tours a property? Some sort of document that releases the Realtor® and broker from liability should someone become infected later on? This type of form is being discussed by the UAR right now. So far 3 states have adopted one. In the meantime consult your broker should you desire this type of legal document. It’s up to you.
- Can my client do a walk-through prior to closing? Yes. Follow safe social distancing etc.
- Can my client meet the inspector at the home after the inspection is done? Yes. Follow safe social distancing etc.
- Can I meet my buyer at the home they are under contract for? Yes. Follow safe social distancing.
- Is the MLS going to turn off or adjust “days on market”? No. This has been talked about throughout the country and almost every MLS is keeping days on market the same. If that were changed then it messes up all the MLS data. The simple reality is that everyone in the country understands what is going on right now and that a home might take a little longer to sell. Consumers need actual and correct data to know what is going on. If your seller wants a break from showings and/or wants to STOP days on market from running, place the home in “off market” status. That tolls the days from running.
- Do I need to have a special note or permission slip from the State to be out showing homes. No. My understanding is that only egregious violations of the SL City directive will potentially receive a fine from the City. An egregious violation would be someone holding a mass group gathering for example.
- If your seller has Covid-19 does that mean the property is stigmatized under the stigmatized property statute? No, it likely does not meet that legal definition. So what does that mean? It means that if your seller has Covid-19, it would be imperative to disclose this fact to a potential buyer and anyone coming into the home (without divulging the name of your seller for confidentiality reasons). Why? Because we know that the virus can be spread from touching an infected surface. Realtors® have a duty to disclose this type of danger to others.
- Can I ask my client or someone I come in contact with whether they have traveled to an area with high Covid-19 cases or are showing symptoms? Yes, so long as you ask all clients the same question so as to not have a discrimination claim.
- Don’t give up out there. Continue to represent your clients! There never has been a more urgent time for you to be representing your clients at the highest level. The public will see more than ever how valuable we are as Realtors®.
If any of you have specific legal questions please post them in the comments below and we will keep track of them and provide updates and guidance as we can.
There is over $1 billion dollars of pending real estate transactions in SL County alone, so we have lots of work to do