WHAT THE GOVERNOR'S EMERGENCY ORDER MEANS FOR REAL ESTATE BROKERS

Posted by Cary W Porter on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 at 9:52am

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Real estate brokers may not:

 

  • Conduct any business outside of their home, including physically showing or previewing properties, conducting in-person listing presentations, taking property photos, staging homes, etc.  Any person who violates the Governor’s order not only puts himself/herself and his/her family at great personal risk, but also puts the real estate firm and his/her clients at risk.

 

Real estate brokers may:

 

  • Provide services to their clients remotely from their house; and
  • Use technology services that enable remote business, including online forms, electronic signatures, virtual tours, videos, and similar tools.

 

Last night, Governor Inslee issued a statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order that is effective midnight on Wednesday, March 25th.  The order will initially last for two weeks and requires the closure of all “non-essential critical infrastructure workers.”  Workers that are considered non-essential, can continue to work remotely from home only.    

Real estate brokerage services are not on the list of essential services.  Real estate firms must close their offices to comply with the order.  Certain workers in the “Financial Services Sector” have been deemed essential workers.  This includes workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financing transactions and services and insurance companies including mortgage lenders, escrow and title insurers.  

Because the Financial Services Sector is considered essential, real estate transactions that are under contract may be able to proceed to closing (it is likely that lenders, title, and escrow will continue to operate).  Of course, there could be delays, which is why the parties should use the new Force Majeure and Closing Addendum (Form 22FM), published by NWMLS last week.  You should refer your clients to an attorney if they have any questions regarding their legal rights and responsibilities related to the purchase and sale agreement.

To repeat: While the order is in place . . .

Real estate brokers may:

 

  • Provide services to their clients remotely from their house; and
  • Use technology services that enable remote business, including online forms, electronic signatures, virtual tours, videos, and similar tools.

 

Real estate brokers may not:

 

  • Conduct any business outside of their home, including physically showing or previewing properties, conducting in-person listing presentations, taking property photos, staging homes, etc.  Any person who violates the Governor’s order not only puts himself/herself and his/her family at great personal risk, but also puts the real estate firm and his/her clients at risk.

 

NWMLS is working with Washington Realtors, which is in direct communication with the Governor’s office, to understand more specifics regarding the order (e.g., if appraisers and inspectors will be able to continue to conduct appraisals and inspections).  

NWMLS is analyzing how to best handle active listings while the order is in place.  It is possible that days on market (DOM) and cumulative days on market (CDOM) will be suspended while the stay at home order is in place.  Stay tuned for additional information about active listings.  

Brokers should use Tuesday, March 24th and Wednesday, March 25th to conduct any necessary business outside the home, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.  This may include conducting home inspections, creating virtual tours and videos, retrieving files from the office, and other business needs.

NWMLS will publish updated information as soon as it becomes available.

Real estate businesses are not included in the “Essential Critical Infrastructure” designation but can remain in operation using electronic and remote functions.While we are disappointed that our request to be included in this designation was denied, Washington REALTORS® remains in ongoing communication with the Governor’s Office and state agencies to ensure that real estate and associated business services can continue in operation. We will seek clarification of the Order and necessary flexibility so that real estate operations can continue while observing the Governor’s Order and social distancing guidelines. For example, immediately after announcing the Order, the Governor’s Office communicated to us that escrow services can likely continue as a necessary financial service.

The Governor’s Office has also committed to appoint a member of his staff to work with us to address consumer and industry impacts. 

This information is based on preliminary review of the Order and will likely be modified as additional clarification occurs. 

Thank you,

 

 

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