Official Practices and Guidelines for Real Estate Professionals under COVID-19 Stay at Home Ordinance in Wake County.
Recently, Wake County announced the implementation of Stay at Home Orders to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These Executive Orders require residents to remain in their homes unless they are engaging in designated permitted activities deemed necessary to the public, health, safety and welfare of the state and its economy. You can find the full version here.
While working directly and speaking with our county and local governments, RRAR leadership has advocated that safe and healthy real estate business is essential to our community. We want to provide our members the following guidelines for maintaining safety throughout the REALTOR® community while also supporting homeowners and those requiring shelter.
The real estate industry has been deemed essential within this order, as described as “Professional real estate services, such as realtors, appraisers, notary services, title insurers, inspectors.”
With the technology available today, we are confident REALTORS® can, and will, seek to provide essential real estate services, including the active marketing of properties, through virtual practices.
County officials recommend that members of the real estate industry refrain from face-to-face real estate practices, unless deemed absolutely essential, until the Stay at Home Orders are officially lifted.
Under local Stay at Home Orders, it is recommended to follow these safe practices:
- Property inspections necessary for the closing of transactions will remain allowed, however, REALTORS® are asked to exercise and advise all involved to use caution and regard for social distancing guidelines in any face-to-face interactions that are necessary in the completion of the inspection. The home inspector could be let into the property by the seller, listing agent, or buyer’s agent while practicing distancing of 6 ft. or more. Consultation after the inspection should be done by phone or online to avoid any physical contact.
- Property appraisals necessary for the closing of transactions, purchase, refinance, etc., will be allowed, however, like inspections, we are urging extreme caution and regard for social distancing guidelines be exercised in any face-to-face interactions that are necessary in the completion of the inspection. It is recommended that when possible, the home appraiser enter the property alone.
- Many title companies have established new guidelines for closings including limiting attendance at those appointments to only the buyer and closing representative. Please contact your title company for updates on their policies.
- Virtual final walk throughs with your clients are also encouraged at this time.
- All showings should make an attempt for virtual walk throughs. This could include a REALTOR® walking through a property while on a video call with their client. At this time in-person property viewing is deemed unsafe. Listing Brokers may decide to require listings to provide such safety and health features as hand sanitizer stations, gloves and booties to cover shoes. Listing agents and Brokers should instruct their sellers to turn on all lights and open all closet/cabinet doors to keep touching to a minimum. Buyer agents should leave the house as it was found and wipe down all doorknobs, light switches etc., with a disinfectant wipe if contact is necessary. Showing Time recently announced that the overlapping of showings is prohibited in their system for the time being to stop agents and clients from running into one another. We highly recommend that Brokers and agents have a plan in place making sure to be aware of any risks in conducting showings and make those decisions internally as a company.
- An optional COVID-19/Coronavirus Addendum is now available from NC REALTORS®. This form can be used as an addendum for delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and can be found on the NC Realtors site forms center.
- LISTING PROPERTIES: A reminder, if the sellers do not want to keep their property active during this Stay at Home period members have options through TMLS:
- If Days on Market (DOM) is a concern to your clients, the Listing Agent may offer their Seller the ability to move their Listing to the “No Showings” status. This will pause DOM and keep it visible to other subscribers and their clients.
- TMLS also made it possible for Listing Agents, and their Sellers, to keep their homes visible to potential buyers by allowing listings to remain active, even when showings are blocked past 48-hours. This change will not pause the DOM, but it will keep listings active on IDX sites, Realtor.com, and all sites getting their feed through List Hub.
- To be respectful during this time and continue to hold support from local and county governments, REALTORS® should be mindful in conducting any face-to-face marketing and try and refrain from cold-calling and other forms of unsolicited marketing throughout this State of Emergency.
- Property management and repair work, which generally involves maintaining sanitary and safety conditions is permissible.
- Physical offices should follow any mandates of the Stay at Home Order. It is recommended that offices that choose to remain open limit any on-site staff to only those necessary for essential daily operation and prohibit public visitors. Again, we encourage companies to make these decisions internally with their staff.
Finally, RRAR urges all members to make sure they are receiving and reading factual and up to date information as much as possible. Visit the CDC’s website and the North Carolina Department of Health websites for the latest updates about the virus.
Additional information about the impact of Coronavirus on the real estate industry can be found on the National Association of REALTORS’® website. RRAR and TMLS are urging everyone to do their part in the real estate arena to help slow the spread of this illness.
RRAR will update this guide as additional information becomes available in the coming days. RRAR is offering the guidance above in consultation with the various county governments and state agencies throughout our service territory. We also urge all members to consult with their BIC’s and attorneys as they navigate this ever-evolving situation.
Members should understand that the COVID-19 emergency and the Wake County response to the emergency is rapidly evolving. Therefore, all members are urged to monitor email, social media and our website for changes and updates.