COVID-19 Resources

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.

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.

GAR Best Practices for Conducting Real Estate Spring-Summer 2020   UPDATED (5.20.20)

News Links

Posted  Thursday, September 3

New Federal Eviction Moratorium (PDF)

Posted  Monday, June 1

What’s in the $3 Trillion HEROES Act?from Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

 

Posted Thursday, May 28

Pending Home Sales Slump 21.8% in Aprilfrom NAR

 

Posted Wednesday, May 20

GAR Best Practices for Conducting Real Estate Spring-Summer 2020 (PDF)

NAR Applauds FHFA Action Attempting to Assure Access to Affordable Credit – from NAR

REITs are receiving rent – except in retail sectorfrom CNBC

 

Posted Tuesday, May 12

CFPB, FHFA, & HUD Launch Joint Mortgage and Housing Assistance Website for Americans Impacted by COVID-19from FHFA

COVID-19: Workplace Re-Entry Checklistfrom NAR

Commercial Real Estate Recovery Possible Later This Yearfrom NAR

More iBuyers Are Reemerging With Instant Offersfrom NAR

 

Posted Tuesday, May 5

Home Buying and Selling During the Pandemic: What You Need to Knowfrom HouseLogic.com

 

Posted Tuesday, April 28

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits Flowchartfrom NAR

Freddie Mac: Lump Sum Repayment is Not Required in Forbearancefrom Freddie Mac

 

Posted Thursday, April 23

Nearly 3 in 4 REALTORS® This Week Report Sellers Haven’t Lowered Listing Pricesfrom NAR

Could 2.9% Mortgage Rates Be Coming? from REALTOR® magazine

 

Posted Wednesday, April 22

GA Realcast: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance with Commissioner Mark ButlerGAR podcast link; click here to view this podcast as a video on our YouTube channel

 

Posted Tuesday, April 21

NAR Funds Telemedicine for Members in Needfrom NAR

 

Posted Friday, April 17

GAR Forms Committee Revises the COVID-19 Special Stipulation from GAR

NAR Calls for Servicing Relief as Banks Tighten Mortgagesfrom NAR

 

Posted Thursday, April 16

A Quarter of Realtors® This Week Report Homes Coming Under Contract Without Buyers First Visiting the Propertyfrom NAR

Change in Buying Habits Leads to Real Estate Warehouse Boomfrom NAR

Statement by Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza on the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Programfrom the U.S. Treasury

 

Posted Tuesday, April 14

Fair Housing Month at Homefrom NAR

GA Realcast: Social Media Best Practices for REALTORS, COVID-19 and Beyond

 

Posted Monday, April 13

NAR Survey Finds Many Realtors® Hopeful for Post-Pandemic Market Reboundfrom NAR

 

Posted Thursday, April 9

COVID-19 Internet Resources in Georgiafrom Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative

GA Realcast: Engaging with Clients During (and After) COVID-19 with Shay HataGAR podcast episode 

GA Realcast: Best Practices for REALTORS During COVID-19 with Bobbi HoweGAR podcast episode 

COVID-19 and the Code of Ethics from REALTOR® magazine online

Georgia Primary Postponed to June 9AJC.com

Assistance for Small BusinessesU.S. Dept. of the Treasury

 

Posted Wednesday, April 8

Governor Kemp Extends Shelter in Place Through April from AJC.com

Governor Kemp Extends Emergency Powers to mid-May to Combat Coronavirusfrom AJC.com

 

Posted Monday, April 6

Federal Reserve will establish facility to facilitate lending to small businesses via the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by providing term financing backed by PPP loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve

SBA Emergency Loansjoint info from UGA, Georgia Dept of Community Affairs, and the Georgia Department of Economic Development

 

Posted Friday, April 3

Executive Order (“EO”) to Ensure a Safe and Healthy Georgia (PDF)

CISA Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce (PDF)

Coronavirus: Unemployment Assistance CARES Act FAQsfrom NAR

 

Posted Thursday, April 2

NAR Offers Members TeleHealth at No Costfrom NAR

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 a 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. This stipulation was updated on Friday, April 17, 2020. 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, virtually 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 attend the Closing, Buyer and or Seller shall use their best efforts to fulfill their contractual obligations through a power of attorney. Buyer or Seller experiencing a job loss, reduction in salary or other financial hardship shall not be deemed a CRE.

If the CRE causing a permitted 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.”

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

COVID-19 Special Stipulation 4.2020 (updated) – click here to download Word doc

A Closer Look

Updated 4.17.2020

It has been a month since the Georgia REALTORS®’s Forms Committee met, drafted and approved of the COVID-19 Special Stipulation. In the last month, we have received several inquiries to our COVID-19@garealtor.com email regarding the special stipulation and whether the loss of financing by either party to a transaction constitutes a COVID-19 Related Event (“CRE”)*. Due to all of the inquiries, the Forms Committee determined that it was prudent to release an update to the Special Stipulation as follows to clarify the intent of the Forms Committee:

“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, virtually 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 attend the Closing, Buyer and or Seller shall use their best efforts to fulfill their contractual obligations through a power of attorney. Buyer or Seller experiencing a job loss, reduction in salary or other financial hardship shall not be deemed a CRE.

If the CRE causing a permitted 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.”

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

What Does This Mean?

For agents representing buyers who are concerned about their ability to obtain financing due to COVID-19, they are encouraged to have the difficult conversation with the buyer to determine if now is the right time to try to purchase a home. Additionally, for those buyers who do need to move forward, they should consider a longer financing contingency to protect their earnest money.

As previously mentioned, this additional language clarifies the Forms Committee’s original intent; it does not reflect a change in the Forms Committee’s position. The use of this special stipulation is completely optional. Although this is language released by Georgia REALTORS®, you are welcome to modify it (with your broker’s guidance and approval) as you see fit for your transactions. 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.

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.
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 as new information becomes available.

    The following events that were originally scheduled for 2020 have been postponed or cancelled:

  • GAR Strategic Planning Retreat, April 27-28 (cancelled)
  • Century Summits: Jasper (March 25-26),Albany (July 29), Macon, (August 1), Augusta (August 12), and Griffin (August 13) (postponed – these Century Summits will be rescheduled for Fall, and possibly combined – date TBD)
  • Regional AE Conference (cancelled)
  • GAR Annual Conference – converted to an all-virtual event
   Updates to these and other GAR events 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 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:

GEORGIA

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

FEDERAL AGENCIES

 

 

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/

Columbus
Columbus Chamber of Commerce: https://columbusgachamber.com/coronavirus-update/

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

GAR COVID-19 Podcasts

4/21/20 – GA Realcast: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance with Commissioner Mark Butler
https://shows.acast.com/garealcast/episodes/garealcast-pandemic-unemployment-assistance-mark-butler

4/14/20 GA Realcast: Social Media Best Practices for REALTORS, COVID-19 and Beyond
https://shows.acast.com/garealcast/episodes/garealcast-realtor-social-media-best-practices-dale-chumbley

4/11/20 GA Realcast: Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Loan), EIDL, and the SBA – and more!
https://shows.acast.com/garealcast/episodes/garealcast-sba-paycheck-protection-program-ppp-loan-eidl

4/9/20 GA Realcast: Engaging with Clients During (and After) COVID-19
https://shows.acast.com/garealcast/episodes/engaging-clients-shay-hata

4/7/20 GA Realcast: Best Practices for REALTORS During COVID-19 with Bobbi Howe
https://shows.acast.com/garealcast/episodes/garealcast-best-practices-realtors-bobbi-howe-covid-19

FAQs Regarding COVID-19 and Liability

Answers provided by Seth G. Weissman, GAR General Counsel

  1. As a listing agent, am I required to disclose to buyers that the seller has or had COVID-19?

A seller owes a general duty to keep his or her property safe for people invited onto the property including potential buyers. Therefore, if a seller has an active case of COVID-19, he or she should not allow anyone onto the property since doing so might not be safe. REALTORS® owe a similar duty to disclose hazards on the property to buyers. If the REALTOR® knows that the seller has an active case of COVID-19, the REALTOR® also likely owes a duty to disclose this to potential buyers. Some REALTORS® have asked whether HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevents REALTORS® from disclosing a person’s medical condition. This law applies to health care professionals but not to REALTORS®. As a result, REALTORS® may disclose this information.

With respect to a duty to disclose that the seller had COVID-19 in the past, the question for REALTORS® is whether it is now safe for visitors to be in the house? If the property has been thoroughly cleaned and a sufficient time period has lapsed for any lingering virus germs to have died, there is not likely a duty to disclose.

  1. Can I be held liable as the listing agent if the seller claims that he or she contracted COVID-19 from a buyer to whom I showed the property?

While in the law, we never like to say never, it is highly unlikely that a seller could successfully win such a claim. In all likelihood, a court would find that the seller assumed the risk of contracting COVID-19 when the seller listed the property during a pandemic involving a highly contagious disease knowing that potential buyers with the virus might be viewing the property. Assumption of risk is a well-accepted legal defense in Georgia where if the plaintiff knows the risks of a course of conduct, the plaintiff is viewed to have constructively consented to those risks.

A client who signs the GAR Exclusive Seller Listing Agreement also agrees to limit the liability of the REALTORS® to the amount of the commission the REALTOR® is paid in a transaction or if no commission is paid then to $100. While it would be a case of first impression in Georgia, the limitation of liability should apply to a COVID-19 damages claim.

  1. Can I be held liable if a buyer claims to have gotten COVID-19 from seeing my listing?

The same assumption of risk defense discussed above would apply here as well. With the daily barrage of news on COVID-19, it would be hard for a buyer to argue that he or she was unaware of the risks of getting the COVID-19 virus whenever the buyer interacted with people or was on someone else’s property. While the limitation of liability would not apply to claims brought by a buyer (since it only protects the listing agent against claims brought by the seller), the buyer would also likely have a difficult time proving where he or she contracted the virus.

  1. Am I allowed to ask a buyer or seller if they have or had COVID-19 and am I required to keep their answers confidential if they so direct me?

Yes, a REALTOR® is allowed to ask buyers or sellers if they have or had COVID-19. Of course, nothing requires buyers or sellers to answer this question. If a client had COVID-19 and now asks you to keep that information confidential, you must keep the confidence under BRRETA unless you are required to disclose by law. Being required to disclose by law should include the obligation to disclose known hazards to buyers. Therefore, if a seller has COVID-19, the duty to disclose should trump the duty to keep the seller’s confidence. However, if the person no longer has the virus, the house has been cleaned and some reasonable period of time has passed for any lingering germs to die, then the duty to keep the confidence would likely prevail.

  1. As a listing agent, what kinds of things can I do to practically limit the risk of a buyer getting COVID-19 in one of my listings?

Prior to a showing, listing agents should turn on lights in the different rooms and open as many doors as possible to make it easier for a buyer to tour a home without touching too many things. If you or the seller can find gloves and/or masks, a courtesy pair or two should be left by the front door with a note saying, “For your protection and ours, please wear a mask and gloves while touring this home.” If you don’t have access to these things, writing a note to this effect in the multiple listing service in which the property is listed should help reduce the risk to buyers of actually contracting COVID-19. Masks and gloves are likely going to be part of the new normal for a while.