The pandemic has forced many sectors to adapt their routine practices to ensure safety and accommodate those struggling financially or personally. The real estate field is no exception to these changes. Read this guide to find out what developments you might have missed in real estate legal services.
From stay-at-home orders and the CDC’s recommendation to avoid contact with others as much as possible, the traditional practices of in-person property showings and open houses have become difficult, and at times unfeasible. Now, real estate agents often need to rely on virtual showings. And, because photos do not do a property justice, some agents have come up with more innovative methods to showcase a home. These can take the form of pre-recorded videos, Facebook live streaming, FaceTime and Zoom tours. This allows the selling agent to be at the home physically and video call the potential buyers while walking them through the house.
This practice was already standard in some cases pre-COVID, especially for buyers who lived out of the state or the country. In terms of the impact on real estate legal service, if buyers have never seen a house in person, the closing paperwork may include certain language stating the buyers are accepting third party opinions on the property’s condition. Make sure the buyers and sellers are both aware of the responsibility taken on when conducting a closing in which the buyers have not seen the house in person.
Coronavirus Extension Addendum to Contract
Due to the constrained nature of negotiating property deals during the pandemic, the Coronavirus Extension Addendum to Contract was adopted. This has created a significant change in the normal offering of real estate legal services. Here is an example of a Coronavirus Extension Addendum to Contract in Florida. Due to work stoppage, illness, travel issues, and other factors, buyers and sellers may consent to adjusting the dates or time periods for routine closing processes.
What Is It?
The form reads: “The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may cause unprecedented impacts to real estate transactions, including but not limited to travel restrictions, self-imposed and/or governmental required isolations, potential closures of offices and institutions required to fund, close and record real estate transactions, and action or inactions of a homeowners’ or condominium association.”
These changes to ordinary real estate legal services give buyers and sellers more flexibility with the timeline. Both the buyers and sellers have to agree to any adjustments.
What Does It Cover?
The form lists several options for extensions, such as:
- Closing date
- Financing period
- Title cure period
- Inspection period
- Due diligence period
- Feasibility study period
- Homeowners’/Condominium Association Approval
The options can vary depending on the state. The buyers and sellers can still create other formal written agreements without using this form as well.
Title Company Dealings
In some states, title companies are considered essential businesses that continue to operate during the pandemic. Consult the title company to see if they can handle the closing. Many companies have shifted to offer no-contact and minimal contact closing options. The title company may require that some documents be notarized. If so, ask if they have electronic notaries available.
Often legal documents in the real estate transaction process need to be notarized. However, the pandemic has made it difficult and unsafe for some people to go out in public to get a document notarized.
As of January 2020, the state of Florida allows Florida notaries to register to perform remote online notarizations (RON), something that has proven useful during the pandemic. This allows buyers, sellers, and notaries to maintain their physical distance. Notaries have to be physically located in the state in which the transaction is taking place, but the buyers and sellers can be located anywhere under most remote online notarization laws.
This shift to online notarization is likely to remain strong even after COVID. It accommodates not only those who want to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus, but also those who generally have busy schedules.
Talk To Professional Real Estate Legal Services
If you want to work with professionals you can trust, look no further than the Law Offices of Gary I. Handin, P.A. Our team can help you navigate this difficult and unprecedented time and provide you with the real estate legal services you need most. Contact us today at 954-796-9600 (toll-free 877-242-9942) to learn more.