Official Practices and Guidelines for Real Estate Professionals under COVID-19 Stay at Home Ordinance
In recent days, municipalities across the Kansas City region have 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.
The real estate industry is not exempt from this prohibition except as needed to maintain “continuity of operation,” including housing construction, the closing of properties under contract or in assisting in the procurement of adequate shelter for those in immediate need.
The Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS® (KCRAR) has received many questions from members as these executive orders have been issued, requesting guidance on how to comply with local orders while serving the needs of clients. Members should understand that the COVID-19 emergency and the governments’ response to the emergency is changing rapidly. Therefore, all members are urged to monitor for changes and updates.
At the direction of our local governments, we are providing the following guidelines for maintaining safety throughout our community while also supporting those requiring shelter.
KCRAR offers the guidance below in consultation with the various City and County governments issuing “Stay at Home Ordinances” throughout our service territory. We also urge all members to consult with their managing brokers and attorneys as they navigate this evolving emergency.
KCRAR’s top priority is the safety of members, our staff and the community at large. KCRAR also remains committed to driving REALTOR® business success and economic development of our communities. We believe that the ability to close on real estate property during this pandemic is essential. With the technology available today, we are confident REALTORS® can and will seek to provide essential real estate services, including the marketing of properties, virtually.
KCRAR recommends that its members and others in the real estate industry refrain from face-to-face real estate practices, unless absolutely essential, until Stay at Home Orders are officially lifted.
Under local Stay at Home Orders, business related to the closing of current transactions would be considered “essential” in nature and allowed to proceed. That said, it is recommended that as much of this business as possible be done without in-person contact by utilizing available technologies.
- Property inspections necessary for the closing of transactions remain allowed, however, extreme caution and regard for social distancing guidelines must 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 inspector be let in the property by the listing 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 physical contact.
- Property appraisals necessary for the closing of transactions, purchase, refinance, etc., remain allowed, however, like inspections, extreme caution and regard for social distancing guidelines must 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 individually.
- Most title companies have implemented new guidelines for closings including limiting attendance at those appointments to only the buyer and closing representative. Please contact the title company for updates on their policies.
During this time it is recommended that buyers and sellers negotiate a credit in lieu of repairs or postpone completion of repairs until local Stay at Home Orders are lifted.
Virtual final walk throughs are also encouraged at this time. If this is not possible, limiting the number of people in the home during the walk through is advised.
- Open houses and broker tours are prohibited, and the ability to input or search for both have been disabled within the Matrix system until further notice. Existing open houses through April 30 have been inactivated, and Heartland MLS data vendors have been informed to remove open houses from display within their systems.
- Showings, if necessary, should be conducted using virtual solutions.
- In the event that an in-person property viewing is deemed critical, the showing should be restricted to only the actual signer of the lease or sale agreement, and social distancing guidelines and best practices must be followed, such as use of hand sanitizer, gloves and booties to cover shoes. Listing agents should ask 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. The overlapping of showings is prohibited, and a minimum of 45 minutes should be scheduled between all showings at a property. In the event that an in-person showing is necessary, we highly recommend that brokers require completion of a Hold Harmless Agreement to minimize risk.
- An optional COVID-19/Coronavirus Addendum is now available on KCRAR.com, dotloop and FormRUs. This universal form can be used as an addendum for delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- New emergency change to active status policy: To eliminate the need for in-person showings and support that only “essential in-person showings occur, Heartland MLS is temporarily allowing listings to stay in Active status without requiring that they are available for in-person showings, until the Stay at Home order is lifted. We encourage the use of an unbranded recorded showing of the property, provided by the seller or listing agent, that can be directly shared between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent. This encourages a one-on-one “virtual” interaction between the listing side and buying side. The buyer’s agent should preview the video before sharing with their potential buyer(s).
If a recorded showing cannot be made, we encourage the use of the 99 photo maximum per listing feature in Matrix to capture all areas inside and outside of a property as well as the ability to fully describe each photo in the photo upload section of listing input. When using the recommended recorded showing option here are guidelines on what is allowed and not allowed.
- What is required and allowed:
- The video must be unbranded.
- A comment should be included at the beginning of the showing agent information section in MLS stating “please contact listing agent for recorded showing of the property."
- A link to the recorded video, if available, is allowed in the Showing Agent Information field ONLY.
- What is not allowed:
- The recorded virtual showing should not be marketed publicly through the MLS.
- The virtual tour field is not allowed to be used to link to the recorded showing video.
- The virtual tour field is included in IDX and syndication data feeds and the recorded video showing is not meant for all public view, but instead for the interaction between listing side and buying side of a potential transaction.
- The link is not allowed in public remarks or additional remarks fields.
- The recorded virtual showing should not be released directly to another buyer under an agency agreement with another REALTOR®. It should go to their REALTOR® directly.
- As a reminder, if the sellers do not want to keep their property active during this Stay at Home period, you have two options for statuses available. Both options will not count Days on Market and will allow you to make your listing Active at any time before the Expiration Date of the listing agreement: Temporary Off Market for up to 4 weeks or Withdrawn statuses. Additionally, these listings will not show on IDX and other syndication websites while in these two statuses.
- REALTORS® should cease all face-to-face marketing and refrain from cold-calling and all other forms of unsolicited marketing throughout the State of Emergency. All other marketing should be done in adherence to the guidelines of the Stay at Home Ordinance.
- Property management and repair work, which generally involves maintaining sanitary and safety conditions is permissible.
- Physical office location operations should follow the mandate of the Stay at Home Order within that jurisdiction. It is recommended that those that do remain open limit on-site staff to only those necessary for essential daily operation and prohibit public visitors.
Visit the CDC’s website and the Kansas and Missouri 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. KCRAR and HMLS are encouraged by everyone doing their parts in the real estate arena to help slow the spread of this illness. The fewer of who contract COVID-19, the more it can help reduce the risk to our more vulnerable populations.
KCRAR will update this information as additional information becomes available in the coming days.