With recent escalation of the coronavirus health crisis, GBAR & GBREB have begun compiling information and materials that may be of assistance to REALTORS®.
Additionally, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® COVID-19 website features useful resources and guidance for REALTORS® on business practices, licensing, employment and government assistance, and more in the COVID-19 environment, and NAR has issued general guidance , including this Transactional Guidance FAQ, on the issue which we encourage you to review. Upon review of these documents, should you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to reach out the MAR Legal Hotline at 800-370-5342.
Importantly, as of March 31, the Baker Administration has issued new guidance for REALTORS® during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Residential and commercial real estate has been deemed an essential business, which means real estate brokerage brick and mortar offices can be open to the public. However, it is strongly recommended that offices remain closed to protect the health and safety of agents and brokers, employees, and the public. Additionally, the following guidance is intended to help clarify which real estate activities may continue virtually or under parameters set forth below.
Showings and open houses are permitted, but are subject to Governor Baker’s order limiting gatherings to ten or fewer people. If open houses are held, they must be limited to ten people at a time and social distancing must be enforced. Additionally, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® recommends the use of hand sanitizer and thorough and frequent cleanings. Notably, although allowed, REALTORS® are strongly encouraged NOT to host open houses in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Real estate closings may continue, with social distancing for any in-person transactions.
Meetings with clients and prospective clients can take place at a real estate brokerages’ physical offices, but should adhere to social distancing protocols. Additionally, remote online notarization legislation was signed into law by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on April 27 which should help to facilitate completion of transactional documents and closings while helping to protect the health and safety of REALTORS® and their clients. We also recommend following the legal guidance on fair housing law compliance prepared by NAR.
Office Re-opening Guidance and Mandatory Safety Protocols for Massachusetts Businesses
MA Registry of Deeds Office Status
View Here (Courtesy of GBAR Affiliates: Ligris & Associates PC)
Local Government Orders for Open Houses, Showings & Other Real Estate Activities
Sample Extension Language for Contracts
For agents and brokers seeking guidance to address timing of a closing and extensions that may occur as a result the COVID-19 pandemic, GBAR shares the following useful language which you may consider incorporating into Offer and P&S contracts following consultation with and approval from your attorney.
SAMPLE CONTRACT LANGUAGE: The parties agree and acknowledge that in the event either the Buyer, Buyer’s lender, Seller, any of their respective attorneys, or the Registry of Deeds becomes the subject of a mandatory COVID-19 virus quarantine or closure order from any governmental agency, prior to or at the time for performance hereunder, or the Buyer’s financial institution is shut down for any reason related to the global COVID-19 pandemic or unable to send Buyer’s funds for the closing, the closing shall be automatically extended for a reasonable period of time after such quarantine or closure order is lifted or after such time as Buyer’s financial institution confirms that it can send Buyer’s funds for the closing.
Mortgage Requirement Revisions and Foreclosure/Eviction Relief
Small Business Assistance
COVID-19 Update & Preventative Safety Measures and Resources