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Advocacy, COVID-19, and your business

Advocacy, COVID-19, and your business

The Realtor® organization at all levels is advocating on your behalf during this unprecedented market disruption caused by the COVID-19 virus.  Read on to see what NAR, VAR, and FAAR are doing to keep you safe and keep your business on track.

National Association of REALTORS®… a message from NAR CEO Bob Goldberg
We have been aggressively working the Hill on behalf of our members responding to a flurry of legislative activity aimed at providing economic relief from the COVID-19 virus.  We are committed to ensuring that lawmakers continue to take into consideration the real estate industry, including independent contractors and small business owners.  Below is a compilation of the letters we have sent this past week as well as the work we are doing with state associations to classify real estate services as essential services in emergency declarations.  We are also working with the Department of Labor to get clarification on calculation of employer thresholds for paid leave passed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  The discussions with lawmakers will continue into next week and we appreciate any feedback you can give us on the impact of COVID-19 on your businesses and communities.  We had calls this week with several General Counsels from your firms as well as with representatives from your affiliated mortgage companies and their feedback has been very valuable.  We hope you and your families are staying safe.

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Congress passed a bill this week that created emergency paid sick leave, as well as paid family leave in the case of school closures, for working families impacted by COVID-19.  Click here for impact on real estate industry.  NAR is working with industry partners and DOL to understand the calculation of employer thresholds for some of these paid leave benefits.
  • Relief for small business/ICs:  NAR sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to include support for self-employed professionals and other small business owners as well as a follow-up letter on this issue as Congress considers additional relief packages.  NAR also signed a coalition letter that would encourage Congress to provide readily accessible, unsecured credit to employers and self-employed individuals ofall sizes to ensure they have the cash to pay their workers, rent, and other costs during this crisis;
    • suspend the filing of business returns and the payment of all business taxes to the federal government for the duration of the pandemic; and amend the Tax Code to, among other items, restore the ability of businesses to carryback any net operating losses against previous year tax payments;
    • suspend the application of the Section 163(j) limitation on interest expense deductions for tax year 2020 to avoid penalizing businesses for borrowing during this crisis; and
    • suspend the Section 461(l) loss limitation on pass-through businesses to allow businesses to full deduct any losses they incur this year.
  • Essential Real Estate Services:  NAR is working with state associations, many of whom are reaching out to their Governors to request that certain real estate services be deemed “essential services” during emergency declarations.  NAR is also working closely with ALTA and MBA whose members are also greatly impacted by county closures of recordation services.
  • Multi-family:  NAR joined a coalition letter representing for-profit and non-profit owners, developers and others involved in the provision of affordable rental housing.  It asks for direct rental assistance for families who have income loss due to COVID-19, it cautions against blanket eviction moratoriums-feels they should be targeted to situations related to COVID-19 and provide relief for property owners in the form of mortgage or other financial obligation forbearance.
  • 1031:  NAR sent a letter to Treasury to include deadline relief for 1031 like-kind exchanges 180-day completion deadlines. As you know there will be delays in settlements due to title companies and others closed during the outbreak.  Also, they should extend the 45-day period for identifying possible properties as exchange candidates. Relief for this program has been provided in the past during other presidentially declared disasters.
  • SECURE Notarization ActNAR is working with other trade associations and industry partners to support the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020” (SECURE Notarization Act). NAR sent this letter to lawmakers in support of the bill.  This legislation would continue and expand access to remote online notary (RON). It would permit immediate nationwide use of RON, with minimum standards and provide certainty for the interstate recognition of RON. The SECURE Notarization Act builds on ongoing efforts of lawmakers to promote remote transaction options for consumers.
  • Opp Zones:  NAR sent a letter to the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service to include deadline relief for the working capital safe harbor for Qualified Opportunity Funds with any forthcoming package of taxpayer relief measures.
  • Open House Guidance:  NAR has issued guidance on open houses during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Virginia REALTORS®…  
a message from Senior Vice President for Government Relations, Martin Johnson

Governor Ralph Northam released Executive Order 53 which lays out specific direction to businesses across Virginia. While some businesses are now required to close for the next 30 days, YOUR real estate business is not. While you will still be able to conduct business, he did stress the need to follow the 10-person prohibition on gatherings, stress the need to telework and offer your services as remotely as possible and, if the need arises to conduct business in person, to do so following the CDC-recommended rules dictating social distancing, cleaning, and other means. Virginia REALTORS® is strongly recommending that members stop holding in-person open houses.  REALTORS® should be prudent and show the Governor that we mean business in helping to flatten the curve, or he will be forced to take additional action. For more details, read the Executive Order 53 FAQ available on the Virginia REALTORS® COVID-19 Resources and Updates webpage.


Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® 
The FAAR office is officially closed and all events through April 23 are being rescheduled.  FAAR is pushing all information received about how COVID-19 is impacting your business via email, our website and our social media channels.  Our office may not be open, but the FAAR staff is still here to help you!

Staff Contacts for Services
For questions regarding Membership or Lockboxes, contact
Lori Hillard Wehr, Membership Services Director
lhillardwehr@faarmembers.com

For questions regarding Education or DPOR credits contact
Barbara Castillo, Professional Development Director
bcastillo@faarmembers.com

For questions regarding faarmembers.com, contact
Lauren Zuza, Communications Director
lzuza@faarmembers.com

For other issues or concerns, contact
Pat Breme, CEO
pbreme@faarmembers.com

We appreciate your patience during this time and apologize for any inconvenience.  Stay healthy, FAAR members!

Important Documents Related to COVID-19

NVAR releases April 1, 2020 Sales Contract Changes

NVAR releases April 1, 2020 Sales Contract Changes

April 1, 2020 Standard Forms Changes

By: Daniel B. Harris, Esq., NVAR Staff Attorney

The NVAR Standard Forms Library has been updated to provide Realtors® with new tools and to correct certain outdated forms. The following changes were approved by the Board of Directors effective April 1, 2020:

K1385 Optional Listing Information Sheet

This new form is designed to assist buyer’s agents when submitting offers. It is prepared by the listing agent and contains a comprehensive collection of the information necessary to submit a clean offer. Listing agents can upload the form directly into MLS for easy access. This form eliminates the need for the buyer’s agent to contact the listing agent for basic information concerning the property, such as party names, conveyances, fixtures and utilities. For simplicity, its sections mirror those in the Residential Sales Contract. This is an optional form which may not be incorporated into any agreement. It also contains language notifying buyers that it is not a disclosure or representation by the seller.

K1308 Buyer’s Acknowledgement of Potential Adverse Consequences

This form was last updated in 2005. It provides brokers with written confirmation that their agents discussed the potentially adverse consequences associated with waiving certain contractual protections (home inspection, financing, etc.) with their buyer clients prior to submitting the offer. It has been modified to remove ambiguous provisions and to update formatting and terminology consistent with modern NVAR forms.

K0004 Listing Agreement Amendment

This form has been substantially modified to comply with the current MLS statuses and the MLS Off-MLS & Office Exclusive Policies. There were concerns that the K0005 Listing Withdrawal form was being misused because of the change to the MLS definition of Withdrawn status. To address these concerns, relevant provisions of K0005 Listing Withdrawal have been incorporated into this form. By consolidating these two forms, brokers can now amend the listing agreement and/or update the MLS status with single document.

The following form has been removed from the Forms Library:

K0005 Listing Withdrawal

This form is no longer necessary due to recent changes in MLS Rules and the relevant provisions having been incorporated into K0004 Listing Agreement Amendment.
If you have any questions about these changes, please contact the Legal Hotline.

Bright MLS announces “Bright Steps Initiative” to support its subscribers and their clients during the Covid-19 outbreak

Bright MLS announces “Bright Steps Initiative” to support its subscribers and their clients during the Covid-19 outbreak

Introducing Bright Steps

Bright Steps Offers a Variety of Data, Tools, Tips, and Special Allowances Aimed Toward Keeping the
Market Moving During This Challenging Period

Bright MLS, the leading multiple listing service (MLS) in the Mid-Atlantic US representing 95,000 real estate professionals in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia, today announced Bright Steps, a campaign launched to support Bright MLS subscribers and the clients whom they represent in light of the very serious ramifications of the COVID-19 outbreak. “In addition to the unique threat that the coronavirus represents to our public health, the outbreak also has begun to significantly impact the residential real estate industry,” said Brian Donnellan, President and CEO of Bright MLS. “With Bright Steps, we want to help keep the market moving by giving our subscribers the tools, information and support that they need during these unprecedented trying times. We want everyone in and around the industry to know that we’ve got their backs and we’re here to support them.” Concurrent with the initial onset of COVID-19 to the region, Bright MLS worked with key stakeholders; including its Shareholder Associations, brokers and agents to compile a variety of support measures intended to offer assistance to real estate practitioners working to represent their clients and navigate their business. A full list of Bright Steps resources and guidelines can be found at BrightMLS.com/covid19, including information on the following:

 Enhanced Flexibility for Virtual Showings – To provide another showing option for clients and their agents currently uncomfortable with in-person exposure, Bright MLS temporarily will allow for the promotion of virtual/online showings within the public notes of a listing. Full information is available at BrightMLS.com/covid19.

Realtime Market Data Reporting – Bright MLS will leverage its diagnostic resources to produce quickturn data reporting and analysis focusing on market trends, sales activity and status changes in order to provide subscribers with information and timely insights to support their clients’ goals.

Bright Steps Webinar Series – Subscribers will have access to a special webinar series and online Q&A sessions with Bright staff regarding the latest policy alterations and MLS tool/feature usage. External industry experts also will be featured to discuss best professional practices during the COVID-19 period.

Subscriber Tips and Tools – Bright MLS social platforms and Bright Steps landing page will offer a suite of tips and tools for conducting business in this current environment. Advice will span topics from staying healthy while serving clients, fully leveraging virtual showings, best use of MLS statuses, and many other topics.

“The role of the MLS always is to support the real estate marketplace in a manner that benefits all consumers, agents and brokers. Looking back at my career, I can’t think of another time when it was more vital for Bright MLS to live up to this purpose,” said Donnellan. “Bright Steps is just the beginning of how we are ready to work every day with each of our subscribers to help them make the most of this marketplace.”

 

Bright Steps: Updated guidelines on showings and virtual tours in the MLS

It is Bright’s goal to ensure that all real estate professionals and their clients stay healthy, while still being able to conduct business.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, national, state and local governments throughout the area have asked citizens to restrict contact with each other. As a result, home buyers and sellers may not feel comfortable, or may restrict, each other from visiting properties. Home sellers may want to limit the number of people who physically enter their property during this time, while they would still like their property to be listed as for sale.

To help our customers, Bright is taking the following actions starting March 20, 2020, and until the states of emergency are lifted in all of Bright’s footprint.

Virtual Tours/Showing For Active Listings

  1. Bright will relax its rules requiring in-person/onsite showings for Active and Active Under Contract listings. In-person/onsite showings of properties will not be required during this time, and homeowners reserve the right to prevent people from physically entering the property.
  1. Active properties that will not have in-person/onsite showings must be available for either virtual tours, virtual showings, or to otherwise be available for a walk-through before closing.

A virtual tour is where the listing agent uploads a prerecorded tour of the property. There is no interaction with any person being shown, live or electronically. Virtual tours include, but are not limited to photos, video walk-throughs, 360 / VR views, and interactive floor plans.

A virtual showing occurs when the listing agent or seller uses audio/visual technology (i.e. FaceTime, Skype) to conduct a real-time interactive or directed showing of the property. A virtual showing allows for interaction between the real estate professional and the buyer, and may require the real estate professional to be physically present in the property being shown.

Virtual Tours/Showing URLs in Remarks Fields

Bright will continue to allow unbranded (without broker or agent information such as branding and contact info) virtual tours to be entered into the Bright MLS system using hyperlinks. Unbranded virtual tours may also be include in the public remarks.

During this period:

  1. Unbranded virtual tours may be included in the public remarks. 2. A URL for a virtual tour or virtual showing that includes Broker or Agent information (i.e., branding or contact information) may be included in the agent remarks only, and those tours may be hosted on typically non-approved sites such as YouTube.

The listing agent must indicate in either the public remarks, agent remarks, or both whether no in-person/onsite showings are being permitted and that a virtual tour or showing may be scheduled through the listing agent. Cooperating agents may decide to provide their buyers with the link to the branded virtual tour or showing.

Authorization for Pictures/Videos by a Buyer’s Agent

It often is required that a buyer agent obtain authorization from the seller to take photos or videos of a home.

To further promote the ability of agents to engage in “socially distanced” showings, a listing agent may provide in the agent remarks a blanket authorization for a buyer’s agent to take photos and videos of the home. This may be accomplished by including something like the following in the agent remarks:

Seller provides authorization to all cooperating brokers/agents to take photos/videos of the home during a scheduled, unaccompanied showing.

Virginia REALTORS releases COVID-19 Sales Contract Addendum

Virginia REALTORS releases COVID-19 Sales Contract Addendum

See below for a copy of the COVID-19 Addendum that VAR has published. Thank you to Ekko Title for this summary. This document does a couple of key things:

Paragraph 1:
This allows the parties in the contract to agree to extend ALL CONTRACT DEADLINES for a certain number of days. The form is pre-printed with fifteen (15) days but there is also a blank that allows you to choose you own number of days. What are “ALL CONTRACT DEADLINES”? Taken in plain meaning, “all” means “all”. So this basically includes any deadline, including but not limited to settlement date, home inspection, financing contingency, appraisal, inspection timelines such as termite, well and septic, coinciding settlement contingencies, etc., etc.

This also indicates that if the COVID-19 condition extends for sixty (60) days, or another amount of days you choose, that either party can terminate the contract by written notice to the other party.

Finally, paragraph one specifically indicates that this addendum DOES NOT have ANY effect on deadlines related to the delivery of HOA/Condo packets. The Buyer still has the same three (3) days to void the contract on the HOA docs.

Paragraph 2:
Clarifies that if the contract is terminated under Paragraph 1, the Deposit SHALL be returned to the Purchaser.

Paragraph 3:
This is an “add-on” paragraph that can be included or NOT included in the addendum by checking the box. IF CHECKED… even if the Purchaser’s financing contingency is removed, if Purchaser’s inability to fund their loan and settle is due to Purchaser’s loss of income from COVID-19 related issues (which is not defined), then either party can cancel the contract and the Purchaser shall receive their EMD.

Access other COVID-19 resources from Virginia REALTORS® at virginiarealtors.org/coronavirus including

• Sales FAQs (addressing property showings, open houses, and more)
• Property Management FAQs (including the eviction moratorium)
• Licensing & DPOR FAQs (including the Governor’s Executive Order addressing license renewal extensions)

OTHER NEWS

DPOR update: DPOR extends license renewals/expiration deadlines to June 10, 2020. More details available at http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/COVID-19/

Developing News: Senate passes HR 6201

 

 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

NAR’s Guide for REALTORS

CDC Recommendations

Impact of HR 6201 “Families First Coronovirus Response Act” on NAR Members

List of FAAR’s rescheduled Events & Classes

Bright MLS Update

Spotsylvania Circuit Clerk Update

 

 

 

DPOR extends license renewals through June 10, 2020. 

Effective March 18th, 2020, DPOR Offices at the Perimeter Center will be closed to the public, in response to the continued spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
To minimize inconvenience during this public health threat, DPOR is extending the validity of licenses, certifications, and other credentials issued by its regulatory boards that would otherwise expire during the declared state of emergency.

An update from FAAR: Classes and Events postponed; Office closed through 3/31

FAAR members,

After much consideration by the FAAR Board of Directors, the decision has been made to postpone events and classes through the month of April and close the FAAR office through March 31st.  Our main priority is to keep our members and staff safe and healthy. With that in mind, we are exercising an abundance of caution until public health officials deem the threat of coronavirus exposure to be significantly reduced. As you may also know, NAR is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak. Based on questions from REALTOR® associations and real estate brokerages, NAR is providing guidance for REALTORS® for use in your day-to-day business, including how to approach open houses, driving clients to showings, and workplace precautions in addition to information on the major provisions of HR 6201. The PDFs are available to download below.

We invite you to widely share this guidance with your teams, offices, and others.

As for open houses we feel the guide published by the National Association of Realtors and sent out to millions of members adequately covers how best to protect oneself and clients. We cannot mandate or dictate the business practices of brokers between their agents and clients. We can however, continue our outward messaging encouraging people to use best judgement and adopt internal company rules that limit risk and exposure during this time, and we WILL continue to do that. You, as a member who cares, can be our best help by sharing this information we’ve shared with you and encourage your colleagues to adopt safe and best practices.

What does FAAR class and event postponement mean for you?  No action is required on your part.  You will be automatically registered for rescheduled events and classes.  FAAR leadership and staff will continue to monitor this developing situation and schedule postponed events accordingly. With the ability to work remotely, FAAR does not anticipate interruption in services— FAAR staff will be available via email during this time.

Impacted Events and Classes:  The following events and classes are POSTPONED until further notice. The next CE/PL sessions will be offered in June.

3/20  Latte and Learn-Radon                    (rescheduled to 7/21)

3/23  March is for Members Day of Education

3/25 Broker Management                          (rescheduled to 5/5)

3/30 Success Series                                   (rescheduled TBA)

4/1 New Member Ethics                             (rescheduled to 6/3)

4/2 New Member Orientation                    (rescheduled to 6/4)

4/2 YPN Networking at BJs                        (rescheduled to 6/4)

4/2  80s Dance Party RPAC fundraiser   (rescheduled TBA)

4/3  Latte and Learn:  Fraud                     (rescheduled to 5/8)

4/7, 4/9 CE                                                 (rescheduled to 6/9 & 6/11)

4/7, 4/9, 4/14, 4/16 PL                               (rescheduled to 6/9, 6/11, 6/16, 6/18)

4/14 Tech Time Workshop                         (rescheduled to 5/12)

4/15 Marketing and Lead Gen class         (rescheduled TBA)

4/22 VHDA class                                          (rescheduled to 5/26)

4/23 REALTOR Awards Lunch                 (rescheduled TBA)

 

Committee meetings: At this point, any change in the Committee meeting schedule is at the discretion of the Chair and Vice Chair.  Individual committees will receive communication from either the Chair or the Staff Liaison on the status of that particular meeting.

Future events:  If additional events or classes need to be cancelled or postponed, FAAR will email all individuals registered for those activities and also share information on our website at faarmembers.com/news, in our weekly newsletter, and across all of our social media channels.

REALTORS are good Neighbors: As schools, businesses and services close in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many nonprofits remain open. Their dedicated workers and volunteers are facing increased need and diminishing donations. Here are a few ways you can help:

–Donate to your favorite charitable organization online.

–Order food online to ship directly to the local food bank.

–Shop for an elderly/ill neighbor, and check on them by phone to see if they need food or prescriptions, to lighten the demand on nonprofits and emergency responders.

–Call a friend, neighbor or acquaintance who lives alone and may be struggling.

#ThatsWhoWeR

Show the way—Share a helping hand stories or stories that make you smile at FAAR’s Facebook and Instagram channels.

 

Staff Contacts for Services

For questions regarding Membership or Lockboxes, contact
Lori Hillard Wehr, Membership Services Director
lhillardwehr@faarmembers.com

For questions regarding Education or DPOR credits contact
Barbara Castillo, Professional Development Director
bcastillo@faarmembers.com

For questions regarding faarmembers.com, contact
Lauren Zuza, Communications Director
lzuza@faarmembers.com

For other issues or concerns, contact
Pat Breme, CEO
pbreme@faarmembers.com

 

We appreciate your patience during this time and apologize for any inconvenience.  Stay healthy, FAAR members!

Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS®

In response to the growing concerns about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, NAR is providing this guidance to help REALTORS® respond to the coronavirus’s impact on the real estate industry. This guide also links to the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers.

Impact of H.R. 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” on NAR Members

Early in the morning of March 14, 2020, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6201 by a wide margin. It is expected to be taken up by the Senate early next week. Click for the major provisions affecting REALTORS®, Brokers, and Real Estate Associations.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Click below to visit the CDC’s website

Press Releases

February market hot, but what lies ahead?

February continued the local real estate market’s trend of increasing sales volume and median price coupled with decreasing days on market   FAAR Board Member Randy Walther states, “The market was active for February continuing a strong winter season. My office was...

January Posts Big Gains in Local Real Estate Market

January kicked 2020 off to a swift start in the local real estate market echoing sentiments heard from Realtors® across the region that the spring market is starting earlier and earlier in recent years.  Sold dollar volume was up 38% year-over-year, going from...

Median sales price up, inventory down at end of Q4 2019

The Virginia Realtors® released the 2019 4th quarter homes sales report highlighting a strong economy, robust real estate market, and shrinking inventory.  Access the full report and share it with your sphere!

2019 Was a Great Year for Local Real Estate Market

The 2019 real estate market posted significant gains in total sold dollar volume and units sold, experienced modest price appreciation, and saw seriously increased competition with low inventory and very low days on market.  The year closed out with a total sold...

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