COVID-19 Resources for GAR Members

(April 2, 2020) As GAR awaits the details of Governor Kemp’s Safe at Home Executive Order and what it means for the real estate industry in Georgia, we would like to update you on what GAR has accomplished thus far in regarding COVID-19 and its effect on our industry. We have worked diligently with our elected officials and other industry partners in order to keep our industry on track and to classify real estate as an essential business in Georgia. We were pleased that the Georgia Supreme Court issued an order allowing for real estate transactions to be conducted via videoconference, and we were also pleased that Governor Kemp issued an Executive Order permitting electronic notary in real estate transactions.

We have received numerous questions at our covid-19@garealtor.com email address. We recognize that real estate has a ripple effect on other industries as well, but our focus at this time is the day-to-day business practices of REALTORS®, both residential and commercial. If you are an industry affiliate (notary, photographer, etc.) and your business has been affected, we urge you to look to your professional association and/or licensing agency to see how these changes impact you.

Please be advised that as soon as Governor Kemp’s Safe at Home Executive Order is released, GAR leadership and staff will dig in and begin the process of interpreting the details of the order and how it impacts REALTORS®. We will issue a statement as soon as possible, but interpretation will take some time as we cross check the provisions with our legal team. 

The news regarding COVID-19 changes daily, and GAR is committed to staying on top of information as it affects the public, our members and our members’ ability to conduct business. Below are several resources that we have gathered to help you during this unprecedented time.

If you have general questions, concerns or suggestions about COVID-19 and your real estate transactions, please send those to COVID-19@garealtor.com.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic (CARES) Security Act: Provisions for REALTORS® and Their Consumers

Coronavirus: SBA CARES Act FAQs

Latest News Links

Posted Thursday, April 2

HUD Issues New CARES Act Mortgage Payment Relief for FHA Single Family Homeownersfrom HUD

 

Posted Tuesday, March 31

Governor Kemp Issues Executive Order Permitting eNotary (PDF)

Forgivable Small Business Loans to Bring Relieffrom NAR

FHA, VA Join Others in Easing Appraisal Standardsfrom NAR

How the Treasury Department is Taking Actionfrom the Department of the Treasury

CARES Act: Understanding and Deploying The Paycheck Protection Programfrom Citizens Trust Bank

Coronavirus Advocacy FAQs: RE Transactions, Independent Contractors, NAR Grants – from NAR

 

Posted Monday, March 30

FEMA Extends Grace Period for Flood Insurance Renewal Premiums – from FEMA

Educational Resources for Parents and StudentsGovernor’s Office of Student Achievement (Georgia)

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic (CARE) Security Act: Provisions for REALTORS® and their Customersfrom NAR

 

Posted Friday, March 27

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and Paycheck Protection ProgramPDF from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Faron W. King “All Things Considered” Interview with Jim Burressfrom NPR

NAR Re-Launches Right Tools, Right Now from NAR

 

Posted Wednesday, March 25

Open House Guidance During the COVID-19 Pandemicfrom NAR

What to do if an employee/staff member/agent tests positive for COVID-19 from NAR

Hackers Are Trying to Spread Another Type of Virusfrom REALTOR® magazine online

 

Posted Tuesday, March 24

Read GAR’s Letter to Governor Kemp Regarding Real Estate as an Essential Business in Georgia

FHFA Moves to Provide Eviction Suspension Relief for Renters in Multifamily Propertiesfrom FHFA website

The Economic Impact of a Typical Home Sale in Georgiafrom NAR

Freddie Mac Appraisal Alternative Detailsfrom Freddie Mac website

Fannie Mae Appraisal Alternative Detailsfrom Fannie Mae website

Atlanta Mayor Announces 14-day Shelter in Place Order – from wsbtv.com

 

Posted Monday, March 23

Coronavirus Advocacy Focusfrom NAR

Pandemic Guide for Real Estate Managersfrom IREM

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac relax appraisal, employment verification standards in wake of coronavirusfrom Housingwire.com

 

Posted Sunday, March 22

Open house guidance during COVID-19 – from NAR.realtor

Bipartisan push begins in Congress to allow remote online notarizations nationwidefrom Housingwire.com

 

Posted Saturday, March 21

NAR’s Advocacy Work Towards COVID-19 Relief from NAR.realtor

Governor Kemp Issues Executive Order Regarding Home Building Industry from Home Builders Association of Georgia Facebook page

Real Estate Records Access is Vital, According to the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgiavia LinkedIn

COVID-19 Special Stipulation

On Wednesday, March 17, the GAR Forms Committee approved of the following special stipulation that real estate licensees can provide to their clients and customers who are concerned about the possibility of not being able to close on their transaction due to COVID-19. Please seek guidance from your broker in determining if/when you should use this COVID-19 Special Stipulation in your real estate transactions.

COVID-19 SPECIAL STIPULATION

Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained herein, in the event the Closing cannot occur when scheduled due to a COVID-19 related event (“CRE”)* resulting in the closing attorney, the mortgage lender and/or the Buyer and/or Seller being unable to perform their respective obligations, then the Closing shall be postponed until 7 days after the specific event delaying the Closing has been resolved. If the Buyer or Seller is unable to perform due to a CRE, the affected party shall promptly notify the other party both of the CRE and of its resolution.

Buyer or Seller having concerns about attending the Closing or self-quarantining (in the absence of a quarantine or government ordered lockdown that specifically applies to Buyer and/or Seller) shall not excuse Buyer or Seller from attending the Closing either in-person or through a power of attorney. Buyer or Seller presently having COVID-19 shall excuse Buyer and/or Seller from attending the Closing until the party is no longer at risk of infecting others. However, in all situations where Buyer and/or Seller cannot physically attend the Closing, Buyer and or Seller shall use their best efforts to fulfill their contractual obligations through a power of attorney. 

If the CRE causing the delay results in the Closing being delayed by more than _____ days from the original Closing date, then either Buyer or Seller may terminate this Agreement without penalty upon notice to the other party.

COVID-19 Special Stipulation 3.2020 – click here to download Word doc

*For use in commercial real estate transaction where CRE has already been defined in your agreement, please consider writing out “COVID-19 Related Event” throughout the special stipulation. 

A Closer Look

The COVID-19 Special Stipulation was released to our members and forms purchasers in response to the growing number of concerns we received about the impact of COVID-19 in real estate transactions. This special stipulation can be inserted into contracts that are executed moving forward or into already executed contracts by using an amendment to agreement. Please remember that amendments to an agreement must be signed by all parties.
    The COVID-19 Special Stipulation has three main components. The first component addresses when there is a COVID-19 related event (“CRE”) that results in the closing attorney, the mortgage lender, the buyer and/or the seller being unable to perform their obligations. While there is no specific list of events that would fall under CRE, such a list is not needed. An event related to COVID-19 that prevents one of the above-mentioned parties to the transaction from fulfilling their obligations would be a CRE.
    The first section goes on to say that the closing will take place seven (7) days after the CRE has been resolved. It concludes with the requirement that a buyer or seller that is affected by a CRE and is thus unable to perform their contractual obligations must promptly notify the other party of both the CRE and when the CRE has been resolved so that the parties can move forward. In a perfect world, the lender, closing attorney, buyer and/or seller would provide notice to everyone involved in the transaction that they are unable to perform their contractual obligations because of a CRE. However, a real estate contract is between a buyer and seller and cannot obligate third-parties such as the lender and closing attorney to act.
    The second component of the COVID-19 Special Stipulation addresses what happens if no one’s obligations are hindered by a CRE, but the buyer and/or seller has apprehensions about attending the closing. In the instances where the buyer and/or seller is self-quarantining or concerned about attending the closing in-person, this does not relieve said party of their obligation to close. If a party does not want to attend the closing in-person, that party can utilize a power of attorney to attend the closing on their behalf. A party to the transaction that has been infected with COVID-19 would be permitted to delay the closing until the affected party is no longer at risk of spreading COVID-19 to others. The second section concludes with the parties agreeing to use their best efforts to close the transaction through a power of attorney if they are unable to be physically present at the closing.
    The last component of the special stipulation put in place a negotiated period of time in which the closing can be delayed due to a CRE. The Forms Committee felt that it was important to allow the parties to determine the appropriate length of delay for their transaction rather than be given a pre-determined length. However, the Forms Committee did indicate that the intent behind the negotiated length of time was to allow the parties to fill in a long enough period of time in which they might be able to close if circumstances settle down (such as 60, 90 or even 120 days) without the parties being bound by the contract for an unknown length of time. After the negotiated time period has passed, either party may opt to terminate the contract without penalty.
    Please remember that this special stipulation is completely optional. While this language has been released from GAR, you are welcome to modify (with your broker’s guidance and approval) as you see fit for your transactions. Alternatively, there are brokers who have already had their attorneys draft language for their companies to address COVID-19 and delayed closings, and they may direct you to use that language. Should you have questions as to whether or not you should use this special stipulation in your contracts moving forward, please speak with your broker.
    Lastly, the COVID-19 Special Stipulation is GAR’s response to a number of requests from our members who have transactions in place or are about to enter into transactions. While we hope that there are no individuals who want to capitalize on the unknown of this time, no special stipulation will be able to completely prevent the actions of bad actors. The intent of this special stipulation is to keep as many transactions intact while not forcing the parties to remain under contract for an unknown length of time.
    The Forms Committee recognizes that this special stipulation is specific to delayed closings due to COVID-19, but there may be a number of other questions that are arising during this time. If you have general questions, concerns or suggestions about COVID-19 and your real estate transaction, please send those to COVID-19@garealtor.com. At this time, given the unknown of the next few weeks, or even months, we may not be able to answer specific questions about your particular real estate transaction.
    We appreciate your patience and understanding that we are all navigating the uncertainty together. As GAR receives your questions and requests, we will do our best to address those that we can and provide resources and responses as they become available.
Faron W. King, 2020 President, Georgia REALTORS®
Deb Junkin, Chief Executive Officer, Georgia REALTORS®
GAR Meetings & Events Affected by COVID-19

In response to the growing public health concern regarding the COVID-19 virus, Georgia REALTORS® is taking the precautionary step to postpone all planned events, utilize Zoom conferencing for all scheduled committee meetings, and suspend GAR related travel for all staff and volunteers through Thursday, April 30, 2020.
    Effective March 13, GAR will not be conducting in-person meetings and will conduct all meetings via Zoom video/conference call. GAR will continue to review this policy weekly as new information becomes available. However, it is GAR’s expectation that the policy will remain in effect through Thursday, April 30, 2020.
    This decision is based on the announcement from health officials that multiple cases of the virus have been confirmed in Georgia and out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our REALTOR® community.

    GAR is postponing the following upcoming events and will begin the process of rescheduling for a future date:

  • Century Summit, Jasper, March 25-26 (rescheduled to October 1)
  • Century Summits, Albany, April 22 (reschedule pending)
  • Century Summit, Macon, April 23 (reschedule pending)
  • GAR Strategic Planning Retreat, April 27-28 (cancelled)
    This decision follows similar decisions from NAR and other organizations around the country. Updates will be posted on this page.
    If you are currently registered for an event during this period, you will receive additional information as it is available.
    We all hope that this risk will pass in the near future. This decision is intended to ensure we do not inadvertently expose our employees and volunteers nor contribute to the spread of the virus. We know that restricting in-person meeting attendance is not going to insulate us from COVID-19 but by having this policy in place we are doing our best to avoid contributing to its spread and mitigating the risk to our members and staff.
Additional Resources

Georgia COVID-19 hotline: 844-442-2681
The State of Georgia has a new COVID-19 hotline. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic, or your local federally qualified healthcare center. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.

Click on the links below to be taken to web pages from these agencies that are specifically related to COVID-19:

 

 

Local Board/Association Resources

Below are resources that have been provided to GAR from some of our local boards/associations. Click here for a listing of all local boards throughout the state.

Athens
East Central Health District: https://ecphd.com/

Atlanta
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: https://www.frbatlanta.org/news/covid-19

Albany
Phoebe Health: https://www.phoebehealth.com/media-center/media-center-news-story?news=4569

Cobb
Cobb Association: https://www.cobbrealtors.com/coronoavirus/

East Metro
City of Conyers: http://www.conyersga.com/
City of Covington: https://cityofcovington.org/
Health Department: http://www.gnrhealth.com/
Newton County Government: http://www.co.newton.ga.us/
Rockdale County Government: https://rockdalecountyga.gov/

Fayette County
Fayette County Government: https://fayettecountyga.gov/coronavirus-information

Hinesville
Hinesville Health Department: https://www.gachd.org/
Hinesville City Government: https://www.cityofhinesville.org/

Lake Country
Baldwin County: https://www.baldwincountyga.com/county-news/
Putnam County: https://www.putnamcountyga.us/emergency/page/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
Green County: http://www.greenecountyga.gov/index.php submenu=COVID19&submenu=COVID19Resources&src=gendocs&ref=COVID-19&link=COVID-19
Morgan County: https://www.morganga.org/
Jasper County: https://jaspercountyga.org/news/
Hancock County: http://hancockcountyga.gov/

Metro South
Butts Health Department: https://www.district4health.org/clinic-sites/butts-county/
Butts County Government: https://buttscountyga.com/
Clayton Health Department: http://www.claytoncountypublichealth.org/
Clayton Government: https://www.claytoncountyga.gov/
Henry Health Department: https://www.district4health.org/clinic-sites/henry-county/
Henry Government: https://www.co.henry.ga.us/Visitors/About-Henry-County

Newnan Coweta
Coweta County: https://www.coweta.ga.us/our-county/covid-19-coronavirus-updates
Coweta County Doing Business pdf: https://www.coweta.ga.us/Home/ShowDocument?id=20130
Newnan – Coweta Chamber of Commerce: https://www.connectingcoweta.com/

Northeast Georgia
Fannin County: https://www.fannincountyga.com/
Gilmer County: http://gilmercounty-ga.gov/
Towns County: http://www.townscountyga.org/government.html-
Union County: http://www.unioncountyga.gov/

Southwest Georgia Board
Decatur County: http://www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org/decatur/
Grady County: http://www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org/grady/ 
Miller County: http://www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org/miller/
Mitchell County: http://www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org/mitchell/
Seminole County: http://www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org/seminole/

Valdosta
Valdosta/Lowndes County: www.lowndescounty.com