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Latest Update on Coronavirus

By: Bill Festa on in  | 

The last few days have been extremely trying and chaotic for so many of us. Trying to help our clients during a pandemic is probably one of the greatest challenges we’ll ever face.

I wanted to let you know how incredibly hard your association has been working on your behalf and how we’re continuing to advocate for homeownership. PAR’s leadership team, staff and local association executives have had numerous conference calls and countless texts and emails since the governor’s order on Thursday and will continue to be in constant communications as long as needed.

Governor’s Office Appeal

The association has been contacting the governor’s office, legislators, the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs and the Real Estate Commission, looking for clarification on Gov. Wolf’s recent restrictions issued to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. We filed an appeal requesting that the governor re-classify real estate as a life-sustaining industry, but the governor’s revised guidance issued on Friday afternoon changed little for real estate. We will continue to press the need for relief for your clients who are nearing settlement/moving deadlines and for greater clarity for other real estate service providers.

We have teamed up with seven associations — the Pennsylvania Land Title Association, Pennsylvania Builders Association, Pennsylvania Bankers Association, Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, Pennsylvania Apartment Association, Pennsylvania Residential Owners Association and Pennsylvania Credit Union Association — representing nearly 50,000 members, to advocate for the real estate industry and our clients. We’ve asked the governor to issue an executive order or otherwise support legislation to allow electronic notarization.

Legislative Update

In addition, the coalition has requested the state legislature move legislation being introduced by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams) and Rep. Mark Keller (R-Perry) to authorize the electronic notarization of documents, and legislation being introduced by Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) to allow self-employed individuals to collect unemployment compensation during emergency situations. The coalition is also urging legislators to consider including legislation to establish a rental assistance fund, a mortgage assistance fund and grant extensions to building permits, in any relief packages intended to address the economic hardships created by this pandemic.

Legal Questions

PAR continues to receive a number of practice-related questions through PAR’s Legal Hotline, particularly regarding closing and agreement of sale addendums. A record number of you have contacted PAR’s Legal Hotline to get clarification or guidance on a variety of issues related to the pandemic and the legal team continues to answer your questions from their homes. If you have questions, first visit PARealtors.org/coronavirus. PAR is updating this resource for you daily to reflect the latest information we have.

Questions abound as to whether settlement companies can proceed, and if so, under what circumstances. Recent guidance from the governor’s office has been interpreted by some companies that title companies can continue with closings. This could result in many of you seeing different practices being used across the state. Contact your title company to determine whether they are continuing to do business.

At this time, best practice is to explore offering virtual services, as much as possible, so as to avoid face-to-face personal contact, or to stop these sorts of activities altogether. The governor’s order will not be legally enforced until 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 23, however, delayed enforcement is not the same as saying the order does not apply. The best advice is to contact all related providers to determine whether they are operating and consult brokerage counsel to discuss what steps can be taken to conduct business while staying in compliance with the closure order.

Standard Forms

As previously noted, PAR has quickly created an addendum (Form COVID) for you to use to in the event a transaction isn’t able to move forward during the COVID-19 crisis. The addendum pauses the transaction so everyone can let the current situation settle and see what can be done in the upcoming days and weeks. With the uncertainty of not knowing whether county recorder of deeds’ offices, title companies, inspectors and mortgage providers are available to provide services, the need for the addendum was significant.

Continue to visit PARealtors.org/coronavirus for the latest information.

Buyers Still Motivated, Despite Pandemic Challenges

“Home is more important than ever before, and ownership has become a key priority for many, particularly those who have never bought a home before,” said D. Steve Boland, president of retail at Bank of America. “Owning a home has historically helped families create a legacy and enabled them to build long-term wealth.”

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Comments (55)

Comments

  • Jim Helsel   March 21, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    Shelter is a basic need for all human beings. Has this been explained to the Governor?

    Reply to Jim Helsel
  • Mike McCann   March 21, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you for your leadership in these unprecedented times

    Reply to Mike McCann
  • Helen Ludwig   March 21, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you for the constant updates and hard work! Very much appreciated!

    Reply to Helen Ludwig
  • Ada George   March 21, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Thank-you for everything you are doing on behalf of Realtors across the State of PA. My husband I are both full-time Realtors and this has drastically affected our business. We feel both PAR & NAR have been on top of this situation and looking our for their members.

    Reply to Ada George
  • Barbara   March 21, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Stay well, stay safe, stay home

    Reply to Barbara
  • Matt   March 21, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    The “avoid face to face contact as much as possible” stated multiple times in the FAQ seems to leave the door open to doing showings… we still have brokers holding open houses and calling for showings on Sunday. Having some brokerages adhere to this an other not is a really bad look for our industry. Either we are able to practice safely and under CDC guidelines or we’re not. Why isn’t this stance from PAR clear kn this point?

    Reply to Matt
    • Hank Lerner, Esq.   March 21, 2020 at 5:47 pm

      Matt:
      We believe our position is clear that Realtors® should not be conducting in-person, physical activities. We are not suggesting that Realtors® continue in-person showings with minimal contact, but that they consider offering virtual services to avoid personal contact or that they stop that particular activity altogether.

      Reply to Hank Lerner, Esq.
  • Steve Weihbrecht   March 21, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you for your continued hard during this stressful time. Much appreciated!

    Reply to Steve Weihbrecht
  • Jennifer Neff   March 21, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    So grateful for your hard work and fantastic communication! Stay healthy.

    Reply to Jennifer Neff
  • Cherryl Fitch   March 21, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks for the updates! Many of us have no idea what all is being done on our industry’s behalf behind the scenes. Thanks for all of your hard work!

    Reply to Cherryl Fitch
  • MARY CURTIS   March 21, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    I STILL DON’T SEE ANY CLARIFICATION FOR RE APPRAISERS. WE DO EXIST AND ARE A PART OF THE MORTGAGE SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY. A LITTLE HELP WOULD BE NICE

    Reply to MARY CURTIS
  • Pam Thistle   March 21, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    We appreciate all you are doing! Note what is being allowed for attorneys (Phila Bar Assn email today): “restricted access to law offices and facilities by legal professionals, staff and clients is permitted to the degree necessary to allow attorneys to participate in court functions deemed essential by a President Judge per the Supreme Court’s order of March 18, 2020 so long as social distancing and other mitigation measures are employed for the protection of lawyers, staff, and clients. Pursuant to the Governor’s order, all other business must be conducted remotely; necessary retrieval of files or other materials should be accomplished expeditiously.” My comment: define expeditiously. Sounds broad with no timed deadline.

    Reply to Pam Thistle
  • Maureen "Moe" Dooley   March 21, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you for all the info and I will keep checking back for updates. Appreciate all the hard work going into keeping us all informed!

    Reply to Maureen "Moe" Dooley
  • Deb Cecatiello   March 21, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    I don’t think the list of “essential” businesses is clear at all regarding property management. Are they considered essential “administrative services” for “services to buildings and dwellings”???

    Reply to Deb Cecatiello
  • Lisa Sanderson   March 21, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you to all who are driving these efforts on behalf of us members. Please let us know how we can help and if we will be seeing any calls to action!

    Reply to Lisa Sanderson
  • Cindy   March 21, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    Thank you for all of your efforts, during these uncertain and trying times! The updates are much appreciated!

    Reply to Cindy
  • Bette McTamney   March 21, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Kevin and Hank – great job by all PAR staff and Leadership. Unfortunately not all our members even know how to see PAR news. It might be a great time to reintroduce a general membership email telling them how simple it is to get on PARealtor.org, use their NRDS number and the easy way to use get access with the simple password process. I educated several of our agents the other day at a session on where to get PAR news. Almost none had ever been on the site. This would certainly get their attention right now as they are eager for info all day long on these very important topics. Thanks for all you do!

    Reply to Bette McTamney
    • Kevin Juliano   March 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Thanks Bette. It’s been a team effort between volunteer PAR leaders and staff.

      To date, we’ve sent three all-member emails about the coronavirus and plan to keep the 35,000+ members as up-to-date as possible. More to come as we all work to get through this difficult time together.

      Reply to Kevin Juliano
  • Patricia B. Scheetz, GRI   March 21, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    What about on-going education? In Upper Bucks County we were scheduled for classes in the end of March and early in April. Is there an extension for our licenses?????

    Reply to Patricia B. Scheetz, GRI
  • Kim Hayes   March 21, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    In response to Matt’s comment at 5:33 p.m. today, I do agree that this is not very clear, despite Mr. Lerner’s reply that PAR has taken a deft stance. The article is basically saying “Work digitally or don’t work” in one paragraph, and in another paragraph, “Check with your ancillary service providers to see if they’re still doing business.” This is a very mixed message.

    Reply to Kim Hayes
  • Finigan, William   March 21, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you PAR people! Should our 35000 members be called to action to write our fearful leaders to demand those who have signed contracts to buy/sell, be allowed to complete their closing?
    Do we need an immediate law passed to allow electronic Notarization instead of face to face?

    Reply to Finigan, William
    • Kevin Juliano   March 22, 2020 at 9:59 am

      Hi William – At this time, PAR leadership and staff are working with key leaders in the governor’s office, legislators, the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs and the Real Estate Commission. If anything changes, we will be sure to share the news.

      Reply to Kevin Juliano
  • Maroney, Kristine   March 21, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Hank, Kevin and PAR Staff and Volunteers, we are so grateful for all that you continue to do for us; especially during these troubling times. I do agree with what someone commented above….I think there should be clear guidance on whether Open Houses should be canceled, or not. I am amazed at how many agents are still scheduling open houses for tomorrow, 3/22/2020. Thanks, again, for the info and updates.

    Reply to Maroney, Kristine
    • Kevin Juliano   March 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Hi Kristine – Thanks for your comment. As noted in our FAQ and communication with Realtors®, PAR notes the latest guidance from the governor refers to suspending all “in-person, physical operations” of affected businesses. We continue to share this message as much as possible.

      Reply to Kevin Juliano
  • Aliceh   March 21, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    Your comment on no FACE TO FACE contact is very important. If the Real Eatate Offices have yo close . There should be no Showings of property
    and they should put off listing properties.
    I wonder what these people will think if the virious is brought into the Sellers house or a Buyer contacts the virious.
    A message should be sent to the Brokers to stop this nonsense.

    Reply to Aliceh
  • spencer speros   March 21, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    LENDERS WILL BE CHECKING JOB STATUS 3-5 DAYS BEFORE SETTLEMENT. SOME BUYERS MAY BE LAID OFF OR OUT TEMPORARILY. WILL ANY CONCESSIONS BE GIVEN OR WILL SETTLEMENT BE DELAYED ?

    Reply to spencer speros
  • Tammy Gross   March 21, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    BHHS has done a great job managing the situation by creating the “ Covid-19 Certification for Property Showings” for all parties to sign.

    Reply to Tammy Gross
  • Dian Colletti   March 22, 2020 at 6:35 am

    Thank you for your efforts at this difficult time, In particular the lobbying for emergency changes to the unemployment compensation laws while our business is stopped through no fault of our own, the criteria for employees to be eligible to collect unemployment compensation. I was disappointed to read that you are attempting to have real estate listed as a life sustaining business, thus putting us agents on the front lines in a position of not being able to refer to the law permitting us to self quarantine . This change would disrespect and undermine the intent of the law and risk the safety of Realtors, particularly those with high risk health conditions.

    Reply to Dian Colletti
    • Kevin Juliano   March 22, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Hi Dian – PAR leadership and staff are advocating specifically for contracts and transactions that have a settlement date. At this time, PAR advises Realtors® to suspend all “in-person, physical operations” of affected businesses. More on this can be found in the FAQ section of PARealtors.org/coronavirus.

      Reply to Kevin Juliano
  • Suzanne Kunda   March 22, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Applause to PAR Staff. You have handled this situation as best as I could imagine and continue to provide up to the minute information during what is completely uncharted territory. I appreciate the efforts, even through the weekends, to keep us informed. You are greatly assisting our business and our consumers. I can only imagine how much more you are doing behind the scenes that we do not see. Great work! Thank you!

    Reply to Suzanne Kunda
  • Dan   March 22, 2020 at 7:42 am

    The FAQ about appraisals doesn’t shed any light on the use of curbside CMAs. I do some REO & Foreclosure work. That process oftentimes starts with a drive-by. If a bank or investment company tells me to start the process by doing a drive-by, is this activity still allowed?

    Reply to Dan
  • CYNTHIA STRATIFF   March 22, 2020 at 7:58 am

    i agree that it would appear that property may be maintained. However the contractors are concerned that they are not on the approved life sustaining list. I have empty properties that need boarded, roofs tarped, grass mowed, cleanouts done, winterizations completed etc. im stuck. i agree that it would be great if the appraisers could be added to this group. as a professional group of course. how far can this go.. can the inspectors groups, pest inspectors, radon installer and surveyors be added too? we need all of these entities if we are to get properties closed. Even then we may still be stuck since the tax offices have closed and so have the occupancy offices and dye test officials are gone. Thank you for all you are doing here. Seriously appreciate all your hard work.

    Reply to CYNTHIA STRATIFF
  • Bev Waring   March 22, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication during this epidemic. Very much appreciated.

    Reply to Bev Waring
  • Mary Beth Driscoll   March 22, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Thanks to all at PAR for your continued efforts and hard work. The updates and information are very helpful.

    Reply to Mary Beth Driscoll
  • Janice Smarto   March 22, 2020 at 8:53 am

    NAR also has a call to action for FPC’s to their Legislators to vote on Monday for Remote online notarization. It’s s.3533 Secure notarization act.

    Reply to Janice Smarto
  • Tom Woods   March 22, 2020 at 8:57 am

    I heard that there is a web site where you can pay for your purchase via Visa, Master Card or Toilet Paper. Let’s not lose our sense of humor during these difficult times. Good health to all. Stay inside.

    Reply to Tom Woods
  • Gary   March 22, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Your efforts are most appreciated! That said, we know in W PA that some brokers have shut down in-person work, while others are going full speed ahead. It makes those of us who are NOT out there look like we are not doing our jobs. But we are protecting ourselves and our buyers and sellers. PAR needs to take a stance and push for fines if those brokers who are out there are in violation of a state order. And this must be published so that the public in general is aware we are all on the same page.

    Reply to Gary
  • Jane Maslowski   March 22, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Thank you all for your efforts on our behalf and the consumer’s behalf. We will get through this and in hopefully less time than China if people follow the guidelines and use common sense which seems to be a big part of the problem.

    Reply to Jane Maslowski
  • Dave Rippon   March 22, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Moving forward, hoping electronic signature platforms will be further developed for their use in every aspect and level of our signature-intense industry.

    Reply to Dave Rippon
  • Kim Porter   March 22, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Thank you for all your efforts and keeping us informed with the latest guidelines.

    Reply to Kim Porter
  • Paul Walsh   March 22, 2020 at 11:59 am

    Bill, thanks for being on the front lines during this difficult time.

    Reply to Paul Walsh
  • Alex Camaerei   March 22, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you for moving swiftly on this. Great leadership!

    Reply to Alex Camaerei
  • morty milch   March 22, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks for all you have done and continue doing for all concerned. Praying for us to stay healthy and wise. We WILL get thru this.

    Reply to morty milch
  • Matt   March 22, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Hi. Thanks for the hard work.
    If title is permitted to continue, how do we respond to settlements? Ernest money checks? Final walks? Final walk through docs that are not all signed at settlement?
    I still cannot believe that basic shelter and all operations therefore is NOT considered essential. Absolutely mind blowing.

    Reply to Matt
  • Frank Jacovini   March 22, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Lets GO RPAC !!! right now we’re on the menu, so get to the table please.

    Reply to Frank Jacovini
  • Michael Murphy   March 23, 2020 at 12:12 am

    lets not be short-sighted this disease is asymptomatic let not give it to older people or the people that have preexisting conditions please fellow agents take stop showing homes for a couple of weeks relax spend time with the family the only way to stop the spread of the disease.. its not worth you life to sell another property protect the public . no more real estate showing for a couple of weeks let the virus burn it self out omg no basic shelter is not essential what is essential is saving lives. thank you par for the addendum but please be stronger about the dangers of showing and listing home now have the guts to to suspend all futuer real est. business regarding the homes under contract let the home settle money has been spent familys want to move into their new homes dont stop the under contract properties from settling but no more sales for a month or two . we will be ok.

    Reply to Michael Murphy
  • Alice h   March 23, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Wanted to know the LIABILITY of a Realtor listing or showing a property and the Seller or Buyer get the Virious from their actions.
    Can that person be sewed.
    Also, does the management company have the right to stop them for showing Condos in a High Rise.
    In Florida, they are not aloud in the buildings.

    Reply to Alice h
  • Kugler, Brian   March 24, 2020 at 12:53 am

    What part of Brokerage Offices to be closed do licensees not get? If the Brokerage office is closed and the licensees’ licenses are in that closed office, how can licensees continue to practice real estate? Hank Lerner are we permitted to practice real estate when the Office has been closed by the Governour?

    Reply to Kugler, Brian

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