How State Rules Affect Real Estate Businesses

(11/18) On Nov. 17, the state Department of Health announced additional rules in an effort to tamp down the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

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Real Estate in the Age of COVID-19: Suggested Best Practices

(rev. 11/25/2020) Licensees should attempt to perform activities remotely without contact whenever possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions

PA Government Order FAQs (rev. 11/25/2020)

Is real estate an "essential business" in Pennsylvania?

What in-person real estate activities are currently permitted in Pennsylvania?

Can other service providers participating in a real estate transaction do business in-person?

Can I still do short term rentals?

Are in-person activities permitted for commercial transactions?

Are in-person activities permitted for residential leasing transactions?

What Personal Protective Equipment is required for real estate activities?

Are brokers responsible for enforcing the state mask rules?

Should agents be implementing mask rules at listed properties?

Are there testing or quarantine rules that apply to out-of-state clients traveling to Pennsylvania?

Are there any real estate exceptions to the travel rules?

How does the stay-at-home advisory affect real estate?

Transaction FAQs (rev. 11/24/2020)

Can I still hold open house events?

My client is demanding that I arrange a showing under terms that would violate state requirements. Am I legally or contractually obligated to do so?

What is a “virtual” showing or open house? Is it OK for an agent to visit a property to take pictures or stream a video walkthrough?

What about vacant properties?

How many people can be in a property for a showing, inspection, etc.?

My broker is instructing me on what in-person services I can and cannot offer clients. But I’m an independent contractor; can she do that?

Forms and Extension FAQs (rev. 11/24/2020)

Does PAR have a form to deal with transactional delays?

Who is the “notifying party” in the bottom section of PAR Form COVID?

Does PAR have forms to facilitate in-person real estate activities where they are permitted?

Does PAR have suggested best practices to facilitate in-person real estate activities where they are permitted?

Does PAR have a sample brokerage policy that brokers can adopt for their business?

Does HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) apply when using a health screening questionnaire (such as PAR Form COVID-HSA) about possible COVID-19 risk factors?

Licensing and Education FAQs (rev. 11/25/2020)

What if I did not renew my license prior to the extended deadline of August 29, 2020?

How can I complete my continuing education (CE) credits for this renewal cycle?

Will new salesperson candidates be able to complete their pre-license education and take their licensing exam?

Will broker candidates be able to complete their required education and take the broker exam?

Business FAQs (rev. 11/25/2020)

Can my real estate office stay open?

Am I required to keep my office open for in-person activity?

What rules do I have to follow if my office stays open?

Are any additional health screenings necessary to keep my office open?

How should we handle positive COVID-19 tests?

How are these state orders being enforced against businesses?

PAR’s listing and buyer agency contracts all set specific end dates. Do these dates automatically extend if we are unable to service our clients for some time during this state of emergency?

Will MLSs be adjusting their rules and policies to account for the market disruption this is causing?

Financial FAQs

(6/12) The Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs have been, and continue to be, problematic and confusing for many Realtors®. PAR has provided information regarding unemployment on its website as it has become available. Many members are looking for answers to various scenarios in their individual businesses. Although it is difficult to get answers to specific and unique member application questions, general scenario themes emerged.

Based on the many requests from members for answers to their eligibility for PUA, PAR forwarded the some of the most common questions received via social member and through PAR’s Legal Hotline. Recently, the state’s Department of Labor & Industry responded to PAR’s request for answers and clarification. Those questions and answers from the Department of Labor and Industry follow.

As an independent contractor, do I qualify for any state and/or federal benefits if I am unable to work?

As a Realtor®, am I eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

When is my income earned?

Prior to statewide opening of real estate on May 19, 2020, the governor’s order meant that Realtors® could telework for some parts of their jobs, but not others. Will this disqualify them from PUA? Is it all or nothing?

Now that real estate can be practiced statewide, will Realtors® still be able to collect PUA or will they be forced to work? 

Do I still qualify for PUA when my county went into the yellow phase, but have not received any commissions yet?

Can I still file for unemployment compensation if I am showing homes again, but not receiving commissions until later? Do I indicate unemployed unless I’ve received a commission?

How do I determine net income when my commission checks are sporadic and my expenses fluctuate throughout the year? How do I figure hourly earnings since my net income varies due to timing of commissions and expenses incurred in arriving at net income?

After filing my application, when should I expect to received notification of my application acceptance or denial?

If I am a Realtor®, but I also have a second W-2 job, am I eligible for PUA? 

If I am a Realtor®, and I receive Social Security benefits, am I eligible for PUA? 

If I am a Realtor®, and I receives a pension, retirement or annuity payment, am I eligible for PUA? 

For someone who recently became a Realtor® and has always had a W-2 in the past, should they apply for PUA or traditional unemployment compensation? 

As a Realtor®, what earnings history should I be using? My latest filed taxes are from 2018, I have my 1099 from 2019, but I’ve also earned (and lost) some commissions in 2020? 

What if I made a huge mistake when completing my PUA application, but I’m unable to edit my claim online and the phone number is a busy signal? How can I correct this mistake?

The PUA application asks for an employment history. How does this apply since we are independent contractors? It asks about hours, schedule, salary, etc. which are not set or steady for Realtors®.

The PUA application asks for documentation that we cannot work. What documentation is needed? Where would we find it? 

What is considered income for the PUA claim – does Social Security, pension or child support and alimony constitute income?

If a Realtor® wrote a contract in February and the transaction is scheduled to close at the end of April, how does this commission effect their unemployment benefits moving forward?

When you file for weekly benefits, do you have to do the whole certification process again?

The PUA weekly certification asks me to select a reason why COVID-19 has caused my unemployment. Which one should I select?

When will the PUA program end?

Real Estate in the Age of COVID-19: Suggested Best Practices

Licensees should attempt to perform activities remotely without contact whenever possible.

Read More

Latest Articles Related to Coronavirus

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Pennsylvania has issued over a dozen new orders and advisories between last week and this week and though none of those orders specifically target real estate, PAR’s legal team outlines how several will impact your daily practice to varying degrees. 

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How New State Rules Affect Real Estate Businesses

The state Department of Health announced additional rules in an effort to tamp down the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and this provides a review of how those changes relate to real estate businesses.

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Just Do It

Pennsylvania is currently under an “Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings.” This rule clearly applies to showings – that’s not really up for discussion. Wear your mask.

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