The industry recently received guidance from the California Department of Health and Cal/OSHA (the "Guidance") regarding the handling of real estate transactions, especially the showing of properties for sale. Pursuant to that guidance, Compass has created a "Shown Property COVID-19 Prevention Plan," (the "Plan") which our team will be following:
1. The Plan is to be posted at the door of every property we show or enter, for each showing or entrance.
2. The Plan is to be forwarded to every person entering the property, including prospective buyers or inspectors, by email prior to the entrance. It should be emailed with the PEAD and the person entering should be required to both sign the PEAD and acknowledge the Plan, promising to comply with its requirements while at the property. Your cover email should state that entry to the property constitutes an agreement to comply with the Plan.
3. The Plan, or a link to the Plan, must be included in all online public and MLS listings of the Property.
Furthermore, the Guidance outlines certain other practices that should be followed at all showings and inspections.
1. Commonly used surfaces, like door and cabinet handles, counter tops, toilet and toilet handles, sinks / faucets, and light switches should be wiped down, before and after every visit.
2. Open doors, windows, and ventilation systems prior to each showing to introduce outside air to the property.
3. Open all interior doors and turn on all lights before showings so as to minimize the need for touching.
4. Wipe down any item you get from the anyone, such as keys, after each use.
5. Schedule appointments with sufficient time in between to conduct the necessary cleaning.
6. If you provide sanitary wipes, face coverings, gloves, etc., place them at the property's entrance so they can be used or put on prior to entry.
7. Require each person entering the property to wash their hands with soap and water at the sink closest to the property's entry prior to touring or inspecting the property.
8. No flyers or paper are to be handed out or left at the property for circulation to prospective buyers.
We can now show VACANT property in the City of Los Angeles according to the update from Mayor Garcetti, the Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority REVISED April 10th, 2020:
On Page 6 Item 6.vii.(t): Professional services, such as legal, leasing and real estate transactions, payroll or accounting services, when necessary to assist in the permitting, inspection, construction, transfer and recording of ownership of housing, and when necessary to achieve compliance with legally mandated activities. Vacant units and real property may be shown, provided that appointments and other residential viewings must occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit (except that in-person visits are not allowed when the occupant is still residing in the residence);
Please be aware that all should wear gloves and mask when conducting business outside the home. City of Los Angeles Worker Protection Order:https://www.lamayor.org/sites/g/files/wph446/f/page/file/WorkerProtection.pdf
Melanie Archer, General Counsel of RE/MAX Estate Properties addressed the Stay at Home and Safer at Home order and how it impacted the residential real estate industry to the South Bay Association of Realtors today. It further explained what we have been updating you on.
Click link to view: https://youtu.be/A7B0cbbTqwU
We were also addressed by our Broker today that it is critical we do not violate this order due to the fact that it is a misdemeanor to do non-virtual real estate business. Other brokerage have also made it clear that: "... I will be closely monitoring this and will be reporting to the City Attorney any violations I see.... "
Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority
City versus County AND Property Entry Advisory
Here is the latest, Real estate is deemed/viewed what at each level of government:
Federal = Essential
State = Essential
County = Essential
City of LA = NOT Essential
Our office has said, "Attached* the LA County order. On page 5, it references residential and commercial real estate as being essential, however, there is a split opinion on whether that means conventional real estate duties or more applicable to paperwork and the transfer of ownership. The majority thinks the county order does deem real estate as essential, yet the City of Los Angeles order does NOT include real estate as essential." Here is the City of LA Order:
https://www.lamayor.org/sites/g/files/wph446/f/article/files/SAFER_AT_HOME_ORDER2020.03.19.pdf " This order shall be in place until April 19, 2020, and it may be extended prior to that time"
There are 58 counties and 482 incorporated municipalities in the state of CA so we need to understand and treat each city separately and follow each town/city order (as an example: city of LA is not essential but city of Torrance follows LA county guidelines as they haven't put in place a stricter order).
I think as I keep talking about Essential versus Non-Essential, I want to make clear that how real estate is categorized by the government does NOT change how the virus is spread. Beyond the precautions we have already implemented for our Buyer's safety. The California Association of Realtors just released the *Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration (PEAD). This is a document is for Buyers to sign prior to enter any and every property.
Your SAFETY is my #1 priority so I want to make sure we are having very candid discussions on what you (and us) are and are not comfortable with as we move through this process. I'll continue to keep you posted and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions. I'm always here for you (now more than ever) so use me as a resource. Let's keep the dialogue going.
*Please email for attachment document referenced here.
The foregoing is not to be construed as legal advice.
3/30/2020 Update: Real Estate deemed Essential!
New update since last week!!! Over the weekend, the Federal Government revised its definition of "Essential Workforce" to include "Residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services." Given that Governor Newsom’s Statewide Stay at Home Order incorporates that definition, we are now among those industries that, under the State Order, may leave our homes for work. Having said that, it is important to remember that these are federal guidelines and it may be superseded by state, county and city orders that are more restrictive.
Here are the new guidelines for your activities going forward. The main points based on the California Association of Realtors (“CAR”) guidance are as follows:
- Remember that your health and safety is our primary concern
- Local Stay-at-Home Orders may be more restrictive and supersede the state guidelines
- No Open Houses or Broker Tours
- Arrange showings and inspections virtually when possible
- In-person showings / visits may be arranged if everyone is comfortable
- If visits are in-person, don’t attend unless necessary and follow social distancing and sanitation protocol
- Limit the number of people in the home at any one time
The California Association of Realtors ("C.A.R.") continues to keep the COVID-19 microsite updated, you may review it here
I'm very happy that we can continue working and assisting you in this real estate process but I am only willing to do this knowing that we are exercising, above and beyond the necessary precaution for you and your family's safety. Our team has implemented the following guidelines in addition to those mandated by the state for showing a property:
- When at a property, please stay in your car. We will open the property with gloves via lockbox and then walk through the property ourselves. We will then exit the property and sit in our car while you enter the property.
- When you are inside the property, please feel free to call us to chat through it. We will make sure all doors are open so you will not actually need to touch anything inside the house.
- When you are done and back in your car, we will go back and lock up the property.
We will also have a bag of paper towels and soap in case you accidentally (or need) to touch something so you can wash your hands.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me to talk about your specific situation, the market or just to catch up! I'm always here for you!
The foregoing is not to be construed as legal advice.
3/26/2020 UPDATE: Navigating Real Estate Transactions during COVID-19
Melanie Archer, General Counsel of RE/MAX Estate Properties addressed the Stay at Home and Safer at Home order and how it impact the residential real estate industry to the South Bay Association of Realtors today.
I encourage you to watch it as I think it's helpful to understand where we are coming from when we tell you what we can and cannot do.
Click link to view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubU7a-wpFX8&feature=youtu.be
Here are also some quick bullet points in case you don't get a chance to watch the whole thing:
- Violating the 'Stay At Home' order is a criminal act and is considered a misdemeanor.
- Agents are not allowed to host open houses, schedule private showings (including vacant properties), any in-person marketing, coordinate any access or activity that is not deemed "essential."
- A solution to not being able to view a home: The Seller becomes the videographer and/or does virtual tours for the Buyers.
- Inspections cannot be coordinated by agents and can only be done via virtual tours. Buyer could consider writing offers ^"subject to inspection."
- Construction and essential repairs of a property can and are to be scheduled/coordinated by and at the Sellers discretion.
- Sellers can refuse to allow potential buyers, agents, appraisers, inspectors, etc into their home.
- A physical final walk-through at the end of the transaction is considered a violation of the order. The Seller can conduct a virtual tour for the Buyer, or delay the close of escrow.
- The California Association of Realtor is working on trying to get the Governor to categorize real estate into the "essential" category.
^Subject to inspection: A home where a potential buyer made an offer and signed the Purchase Agreement, but a successful closing is still contingent upon conducting a home inspection and negotiating with the sellers over any repairs or concessions before the inspection contingency period expires.
I was on another conference call today with my COMPASS broker and managers and COMPASS interprets the Stay at Home and Safer at Home Order the same way. Let me know what you think and happy to jump on a conference call to discuss it further. We truly appreciate your patience, understanding and trust as we navigate you through all this uncertainty.
The foregoing is not to be construed as legal advice.