May 14, 2020 | 9:30 am
New COVID-19 County Order Essential Services Compliance Q&A
The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Please check the County Orders and FAQs for any changes and updates.
Before conducting any business transactions first consult with your broker and adhere to specific rules and guidelines established by your respective corporations/firms and the requirements set out in County/City orders. Members should seek individual counsel for legal and insurance matters.
What does the new Order allow with regard to real estate services?
In summary, the new order provides the following:
- Service providers that enable real estate transactions are included in accepted services.
- Service providers include real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries and title companies (see below for additional information on service providers*)
- Appointments and viewings are to occur virtually
- If a virtual viewing is not feasible, viewings must be by appointment with no more than 2 people from the same household/living unit and 1 individual showing the property.
- Commercial real estate activities are permissible if performed within the rules of the Order(s).
*Essential service providers also include inspectors, appraisers, photographers and videographers. In Contra Costa AND Alameda Counties essential service providers also include stagers. Please check other County/City Orders as rules and essential services classifications may differ.
Does the new Order allow for staging and stagers?
Yes. In Contra Costa and Alameda Counties and the City of Berkeley (as of 05-14-20) home stagers are now classified as “essential” to the real estate transaction. Stagers are prohibited, however in some counties outside of Contra Costa and Alameda and the City of Berkeley. Please check separate county orders as restrictions may differ.
Can properties be viewed by a family of more than 2 people at the same time?
No. The Order allows only 2 people from the household/unit to accompany 1 agent during a showing.
Can brokers and agents conduct live open houses or broker tours?
No. Marketing preview tours, caravans and other similar visits are not permitted.
When should the PEAD be signed?
According to C.A.R. and subject to the direction of your broker, the C.A.R. PEAD form, the latest of which is dated Apr 30, 2020, should be completed each time there is an entry into the property irrespective as to whether it is occupied or vacant. It should be signed by all service providers, buyers, or anyone else entering the property; it should also be signed by the seller for each entry. For more information on C.A.R. forms visit: https://www.car.org/riskmanagement/covidlegaldocs. C.A.R. COVID-19 Hotline: 1 (213) 351-8450.
Can a listing agent visit the property to conduct the visual inspection required by CA Civil Code, Section 2019?
Yes. Because it is not feasible to complete the mandated visual inspection and completion of the agent’s portion of the Transfer Disclosure Statement, an agent may visit the property to complete the statutory requirements. The C.A.R. AVID form is available for agents wishing to do so. Agents should consult with their brokers concerning the conducting of any inspections and use the AVID forms.
Can a buyer visit the property after the executoin of a Purchase and Sale Agreement for the purpose of fulfilling the buyer’s obligation to conduct inspections as allowed by CA Civil Code, Section 1102.6?
Yes. In performing any such inspections, the agent must accompany the buyer to assure the health and sanitation protocols are followed.
What are the protocols for viewing a property?
- Compliance with social distancing requirements of Section 16.k of the Order.
- Following the directives of public agencies for sanitation and health, including avoidance of touching surfaces and wiping any touched surfaces with disinfectants.
- Following the directives of the Order issued April 17, 2020, pertaining to face coverings.
- Follow the directions of your broker.
Can an agent schedule back-to-back appointments to show a listing?
Yes. Under certain conditions. Any person coming to view a property must have previously scheduled an appointment as stipulated in the Order. Only 1 agent can be on the premises at a given time and the buyer’s agent should access the property through a lockbox or other secure method. The listing agent and buyer’s agents cannot be on the property at the same time.
What are the protocols for showing properties occupied by tenants?
The same protocols in effect for occupied properties apply to properties occupied by tenants. Tenants must not be present when properties are shown. The coordination of gaining access to a property occupied by a tenant is the responsibility of the seller and must be obtained in accordance with any applicable provisions of local laws and a written lease between the tenant and the seller.
If furniture is staged before May 4, 2020, and the property sells, how can the stager retrieve their furniture?
In Contra Costa and Alameda Counties and the City of Berkeley (as of 05-14-20) the furniture may be removed by the stager at any time, provided all protocols for sanitation and health are followed. Please check separate county orders as restrictions may differ between counties/cities.
Can inspectors conduct home inspections?
Yes. As with any other viewing, all health and sanitary protocols must be followed.
Can appraisers conduct in-person appraisals?
Yes. If an appraisal is required in a pending transaction an appraisal may be conducted if s/he follows social distancing guidelines established by the County. The appraisal should be conducted as expeditiously as possible. Sellers must vacate the property prior to the appraisal.
Can a buyer’s agent conduct “buyer walk-throughs” prior to closing?
Yes. If a walk-through is required in a pending transaction, a walk-through may be conducted, provided the following: it is by appointment, a total of no more than 2 people from the same household/living unit attend, there is 1 agent at the property at any one time, and they adhere to social distancing guidelines established by the County. The walk-through should be conducted as expeditiously as possible. Sellers should vacate the property prior to the walk-through.
Can professional photographers and videographers take photos and create virtual tours during the effective period of the Order?
Yes. Information concerning real estate services indicates that professional photography and videography for listings is permitted. Like all other in-person activities, photos and video shoots must be made by appointment with a total of no more than 1 photographer/videographer on the property at any one time, and they must adhere to social distancing guidelines established by the County. Sellers must vacate the property prior to any photo/videography activities.
How much time should a seller be gone from the property before a viewing and how much time needs to elapse before a seller returns to a residence after the viewing or service provider leaves?
There is no scientifically accepted measure, however, there should be sufficient time between the time the seller leaves and the viewer or service provider arrives. Likewise, after the viewer or service provider leaves, the seller should allow sufficient time before returning to the property.
Do listing agents need to remove lockboxes from Active listings?
No. Lockboxes may stay on Active listings as previews and showings are permitted by appointment only. A total of no more than 1 agent and 2 people from the same family/residing in the same household/unit may visit the property at any one time and adhere to social distancing guidelines established by the County.
Can moving companies move buyers into a property and move sellers out of a property?
Yes. The New Order specifically recognizes the role of movers in real estate transactions. The same rules/protocols apply to movers. All moving work should be conducted with the fewest employees possible who must follow social distancing and sanitizing measures.
Can agents install For Sale signs at a property during the Shelter-in-Place Order?
Yes. Agents are permitted to install For Sale signs, provided the sign is installed adhering to County social distancing guidelines.
Can landscapers, arborists and gardeners continue to maintain a property?
Yes. Arborists, landscapers, gardeners and similar service professionals can operate as outdoor businesses as that term is defined in the New Order. They must comply with strict social distancing requirements.
Can home service workers continue to provide services?
Home service providers may keep providing services in homes if they are essential to the health, safety, sanitation and/or operation of the home. This includes plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other services needed to maintain a safe and sanitary home. Home construction repair work is also allowed, as is home-based care for children, adults, seniors and pets.
Can we bring in sanitizing and cleaning services to clean/disinfect homes?
Yes. Service providers necessary to maintaining habitability, sanitation or operation of the residence are permitted under the New Order.
If I see a violation, what should I do?
Consult with your broker. The appropriate law enforcement agency is vested with the responsibility of enforcing the law. The Association of REALTORS is not a law enforcement agency and cannot legally engage in any law enforcement activities.