We have all heard it and it rings true for the real estate industry as well – these are unprecedented times brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic. We know it will continue to impact the real estate industry over the next weeks and months. But at MIBOR, it does not weaken our resolve to empower our members and strengthen the marketplace. Everything from brokerage operations to how listings are being marketed to the ability to close transactions is requiring REALTORS® to adapt to these extraordinary circumstances. With so much information, and a lot of it changing daily, we are sharing the most important updates along with helpful resources.
“Essential – but NOT Business as Usual” – With the technology available today, MIBOR members can and will provide essential real estate services – including the ability to market properties and close real estate transactions – virtually; In doing so you are ensuring the health and safety of your clients, the community and all of our families.
You are REALTORS® – That makes you community leaders – The vast majority of our almost 9,000 members are following both the spirit and the letter of Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order to stay home. You are continuing to serve your clients, keeping the economic engine churning, and ensuring these complicated and emotional transactions stay on track to a successful close, and you are doing this while ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved.
So many of you are doing this right now. However, we all need to demonstrate restraint and care and conduct only the most essential tasks outside of your home. It is NOT business as usual. While the work you do is essential, nothing is more important than stopping the spread of this horrible virus and preventing our health care system from being overwhelmed.
On April 2nd the Marion County stay at home order was extended by Mayor Hogsett. He echoed the Governor and warned that businesses who are not following the proper safety measures may lose their status as essential.
We know that with great power comes great responsibility – that’s REALTORS®! You have the ability and responsibility to serve without putting anyone in danger.
Below are some of the virtual options available to you through your MIBOR membership.
SHOWING OPTIONS FOR SELLERS:
In a unanimous decision, the Board voted to suspend the rule which requires Active Listings be available for showings. They also adopted the following definition of showings:
Showings include either of the following 1) Physical, on site viewing of the listed property by potential buyers with a cooperating broker; or 2) virtual showing (which could mean live or pre-recorded video of listed property), during which the listing broker or agent is available to answer any questions that a cooperating broker may have about the property”.
Remember, it is NOT business as usual when it comes to open houses! If your seller insists on holding an in-person open, travel and social distancing requirements apply. Talk to your sellers about offering a Virtual Open House instead, to keep everyone safe.
If your seller is willing to allow Virtual Showings only, you need not update your listing in anyway. If you use a Showing Service, you should reflect that only Virtual Showings will be allowed. If your seller would like to discontinue showings entirely during this time, MIBOR BLC will allow a temporary second option.
Beginning March 23rd, the requirement that listings with an Active status must be available for showings will be temporarily suspended. If your seller elects this option, Days on Market will continue to count and the listing will continue to be distributed to IDX and other to internet sites as directed.
To better serve our members, sellers and buyers, MIBOR BLC® enabled the Virtual Open House option in the Open House section of Matrix.
Click here for a detailed “how-to” in setting up a virtual Open House in MIBOR BLC.
If your sellers choose NOT to show their property in anyway but keep the listing as active during this time, MIBOR BLC requires three disclosures:
Remote Online Notary
Indiana was one of the first states to enact legislation to allow for Remote Online Notary (RON), however, the effective date was not until July 1, 2020. Through great work by IAR with industry partners, on Tuesday, March 31st, Governor Holcomb issued an executive order that made it effective immediately so closings could still happen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary of State is working fast to get this completed quickly. NAR has also made RON a priority and is pushing for federal legislation to allow for it to be used in every state.
Attendance at Closing
Although Indiana license law requires broker attendance at closing, there is an exception which says if your client does not attend, then the broker does not have to attend. Remote closings for your client, or requests not to appear in person, may fall within this exception.
Acting in good faith pursuant to emergency CDC, local, state, and national guidelines in these unusual circumstances should protect our members from any violation of this law. If the Indiana Real Estate Commission (IREC) provides some guidance in the future, we will keep you updated.
In the meantime, talk this over with your client, advise them of the circumstances and their options. If you all attend, practice social distancing under the Executive Order. If you are unable to attend, let your client know that you will be available virtually, by phone or some other acceptable means of communication. Document this disclosure with your client.
Contract and disclosure language
IAR, in cooperation with legal counsel from several local brokerages, provided protective language to deal with future delays or possible contract cancellations related to COVID-19. Additional language provides hold harmless language for our members and notification requirements if the seller or a resident is exposed to the virus. The form (Form #62) will soon be available in your zipForm®, DocuSign®, and Dotloop accounts. A third new form is coming for use with showings and inspections. It provides risk reduction for members when visiting parties – such as an inspector or potential buyer – enter the property.
In addition, the Sight Unseen Form is available. This form was added to your IAR forms library at the beginning of 2020 and provides language to protect all brokers when a buyer makes an offer without physically viewing the property.
There are links to these forms currently on MIBOR.com/Coronavirus as well as on the state association website IndianaREALTORS.com.
Real Estate License Renewal
The Real Estate License renewal process opened Tuesday, March 31st, and emails went out to members asking you to renew online. There are two new questions on the renewal. 1. Are you a US Citizen? and 2. Are you a qualified alien (as defined under 8 USC 1641)? We have been notified that licensees are answering yes to both – which cannot be true – and answering these questions incorrectly may cause renewal delays.
- They also reaffirm the deadline for renewing licenses remains June 30, 2020.
- Do not begin your renewal if you have not completed all your required CE. You may complete all continuing and post-licensing education online.
- We will keep you posted if we get new information.
MIBOR and IAR have also been working to address the county and municipal government office closures that we know are slowing or stopping real estate transactions. Most city and county buildings have closed to the public. However, many offices remain available by phone, online, or by appointment only. The recording of deeds can be done by mail for most counties. We will continue to post updates.
Market Insights for March will officially be released March 10th, however you can always use the Market Insights App available from your dashboard. This tool allows you to analyze market statistics. With this tool you can compare trends across multiple areas, filter down your unique market segment, review any time period, analyze price distributions and more.
National Association of REALTORS®
In addition to the tremendous advocacy efforts from NAR, they have also provided really good general guidance on nearly every topic - including showings and open house, properties in escrow, and leased properties and so much more. Members should use this information in consultation with their managing brokers, legal counsel, and local public health officials.
We are linking to all of these resources from our the MIBOR.com website, but of course you can go directly to the source for a complete list of resources from NAR at www.nar.realtor/coronavirus.
NAR has set up a hotline for questions related to real estate, their response to COVID-19, questions about legislation, and other issues. You can dial the 800 number and press 1 to speak with a representative. It’s open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday–Friday. The number is 1-800-874-6500.
Among the most impressive and impactful outcome of NARs efforts was their advocacy team’s work with Congressional leaders and the administration during the past several weeks to ensure legislation for the stimulus bill would bring relief to the self-employed, independent contractors, and small businesses – like REALTORS®.
The recently passed COVID-19 economic relief package, Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or CARES Act, contains many benefits for REALTORS®, including unemployment eligibility for the self-employed and independent contractors; unprecedented aid for small businesses; and a delay in business payroll tax payments.
Some highlights of the CARES Act include (this list only includes some of the provisions for REALTORS® and their consumers):
- REALTORS® and their families and their clients, as well as most Americans, with incomes below the thresholds will receive cash payments from the federal government in the amount of $1,200 per adult plus $500 for each child under the age of 17. These payments should be sent out starting in April.
- Self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and others who are unable to work as a direct result this public health emergency and would not qualify for regular unemployment benefits under state law, may be eligible to receive “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.”
- Mortgage Forbearance - Borrowers of government-backed mortgages (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, VA and USDA) can request up to 360-day payment forbearance without proof of hardship. No additional fees, interest, or penalties can be assessed for the forbearance.
- Moratorium on eviction filings, or fees or penalties for tenants for nonpayment of rent for 120 days on is available on certain properties. These are properties insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted in any way by HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the rural housing voucher program, or covered by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
- Employers and self-employed individuals can delay the payment of the employer-portion of the FICA (Social Security) payroll taxes or one-half the SECA (self-employment taxes) until after 2020 – one half is due in 2021 and the other half in 2022.
- Employers and self-employed individuals are allowed to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security taxes of employees.
- Businesses with 500 employees or fewer, including sole proprietors and independent contractors, are eligible for SBA 7(a) loans and Economic Injury Disaster loans to help with rent, payroll, utilities, paid sick leave, debt, and other needs.
**NOTE: IAR has asked REALTORS® to please not file for unemployment, yet. If you do, you will be denied. IAR and the MIBOR Governement and Community Relations team are working hard to bring this information back to our members and will keep you posted on how to apply for these benefits for yourself and clients.
- In addition, NAR has relaunched the Right Tools, Right Now program which was first activated in 2009 in the midst of the financial crisis. Through Right Tools, Right Now, new and existing NAR products and services available for FREE or at significant discounts to REALTORS® and REALTOR® associations. You can learn more here.
Vote, Act, Invest
One of the most important benefits of being a member of the REALTOR® Association, is the value from our ongoing advocacy efforts at all levels. Many of these would not be possible without your support as a member of the REALTOR® Association and your investment in the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). Your involvement and investment are critical to our ongoing success.
Have your voice heard and to vote in the upcoming primary election, now pushed back from May 5th to June 2nd. We also strongly encourage all of you to take advantage of the ability to vote absentee. For more information go to https://indianavoters.in.gov/.
Also know that your MIBOR RPAC Trustees continue their work during these challenging times in reviewing candidates running for local elected office to understand how they align with issues important to REALTORS® and homeowners. In addition to the standard questionnaires sent to all candidates running for elected office, the Trustees have continued their interviews with these candidates in a virtual platform. REALTORS® serving as trustees, make all decisions on the support of candidates for the REALTORS® Political Action Committee. Look for a Voters Guide of supported candidates in the coming weeks.
REALTORS® are Leaders – Thats Who You R –
You demonstrate your leadership within your community as a source of important information, by practicing social distancing, using new and innovative ways to connect with your clients, and helping those who, more than even before, need your help to find the comfort of home.
Last week, the REALTOR® Foundation Board of Directors acted and approved $15,000 in emergency grants to support three of our grant organizations that are in the highest need for funds to fight COVID-19. They are facing a new kind of crisis in keeping their residents, staff, and volunteers safe. Imagine a STAY @ HOME Order when you have no home to go to. They are also facing a shortage of supplies and food, and balancing cash flow. Many are sheltering families in long term stay motels to meet the need as best they can. Above all, they are continuing to serve their mission and our cities most vulnerable neighbors.
At a time when many of us want to be helpful but we feel helpless isolated at home, your REALTOR® Foundation is stepping up to be there when our community needs it. We will continue to be the key to hope for those in need. If there is room in your heart and your budget, your donation at this time will aid our efforts to respond to the needs of our grant organization's in this global emergency. Give online at www.realtorfoundation.org.
In these extraordinary times, it it is important for us all to continue to focus on how we can best help your clients, our communities, and each other. This industry has always worked together to do just that. Trust that MIBOR will continue to serve our Member’s needs.
We’ve weathered difficult market cycles and crises before and together we will get through this.