New Jersey Realtors & COVID-19

The Current Situation

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools, businesses, and government offices to close in New Jersey. As Realtors®, your business is being impacted in a number of ways, but we're doing all that we can to help mitigate the economic effects during this unprecedented event. 


 

FAQs

*Revised as of 4/3/20

No. There is a ban on open houses under Executive Order 107.

Per Governor Murphy's March 30 clarification to Executive Order 107, "Realtors can operate and show houses to prospective buyers on a 1-on-1 basis or to immediate families. There is still a prohibition on open houses."

We continue to urge our members to exercise extreme caution with their clients. New Jersey Realtors® encourages the use of virtual tools, such as FaceTime, for showings (at the seller’s discretion.)

 

Yes, you may continue to work and close your transactions. If an in-person closing is necessary, you must practice safe social distancing as established by the CDC.

On March 30, Gov. Murphy clarified Executive Order 107 with an Administrative Order: "Individual appointments to view real estate with realtors by individuals or families shall be considered essential retail business for the purposes of paragraph 6 of Executive Order No. 7. However, open houses will be considered impermissible gatherings in accordance with paragraph 5 of Executive Order No. 107."

 

A quick note to our membership—We did not ask to be deemed essential; we did reach out to the governor's office for clarification of his expectations on how we were to proceed as an industry under Executive Order 107. The clarification on the governor’s Executive Order was sought only to determine what was permissible for those renters, buyers, or sellers who are in immediate need of real estate services. Situations where there is an immediate need could include: a renter whose lease ends during the EO, end of a winter rental, those who needed to buy or sell for health or financial reasons that existed before COVID-19, those in pending transactions who needed guidance, or a vacant property, to name just a few. As a state association, we are always trying to best inform our members about what is and is not allowable based on the most current state laws, regulations, and orders—we needed the clarification from the governor’s office in order to inform our membership on what was allowed during this unprecedented event. To be clear, we suggest all showings be held through virtual options. As a New Jersey Realtor®, you should not take this action by the governor to mean you must continue your business.

If you are having problems with title or deed searches, please reach out to us at news@njrealtor.com or your local board and we will work to get you answers.

Yes. The $2 trillion economic stimulus package provides relief for independent contractors. Read more here.

 

There is a bill allowing remote notary waiting for Gov. Murphy’s signature. The requirements are as follows:

  • The notarial officer must have personal knowledge of individual, satisfactory evidence of ID by a witness, or two different proofs of ID by the individual.
  • The notarial officer must be able to reasonably confirm that two parties have the same document in front of them.
  • The notarial officer must keep audio & visual recording of the performance of the notarial act.

The bill must still be signed into law.

In certain municipalities where they are waiving the Fire Certificate and Certificate of Occupancy inspections, your client should check with the municipality and consult their attorney for guidance.

 

We requested statewide guidance from the NJ Department of Community Affairs, but they have indicated it does not fall under their jurisdiction. The guidance they offered was with regards to new construction only.

 

If you are still having trouble with this, please contact us at news@njrealtor.com with the problem and municipality you are dealing with.

The Department of Community Affairs released new guidance for fire inspection certificates, available here.

Most municipalities are offering a waiver of the fire inspection certificate with an affidavit. If you are still having trouble with this, please contact us at news@njrealtor.com with the problem and municipality you are dealing with.

No. There is a moratorium on all evictions per Executive Order 106. page three, section 1.

The next deadline for continuing education is not until April 30, 2021. There are no deadlines this year.

If any of your clients have questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic affects any of the deadlines or other issues in their sales contract or lease, you should advise them to consult an attorney about how the pandemic affects their individual transaction.

The stimulus bill provides for unemployment insurance for independent contractors. This is different than regular unemployment and the guidelines and administrative process has not be released yet. Once we have that information, we will notify membership.

You must apply for regular New Jersey unemployment insurance (to be denied) before you will be able to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Your denial is a prerequisite to apply for PUA, as it is tied to disaster relief. 

This is still unclear. We have sought clarification and will update you as soon as we have the information.

Yes. These loans are intended for small businesses, sole proprietors, and independent contractors. Application for independent contractors opens April 10.

No. Guidance suggests you should not include independent contractors in your loan amount for business purposes. Independent contractors should apply on their own (that application opens April 10.)

Per the National Association of Realtors®: "NO, you may still be eligible to apply for the pandemic unemployment assistance if you have been fully or partially unemployed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. We are awaiting new guidance from the Department of Labor with respect to this program. We expect it within 10 days."

The Seasonal Lease Addendum can be used for both. The Addendum can be used for new seasonal leases when the landlord and tenant sign the lease. The Addendum can also be used for existing seasonal leases if the landlord and tenant both agree. Please note, this Addendum is not to be used for leases that are for one year or more. The NJ Supreme Court’s decision in the attorney-review case specifically says that real estate salespersons can prepare leases for less than one year without attorney review but leases for one year or more must include the attorney-review provisions. Thus, no attorney-review provisions are required in seasonal leases or the Addendum to the seasonal lease.

It is our understanding you can still apply and may be eligible.

The form is not conducive to independent contractors. It is our understanding you should enter yourself as your employer.


 

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UPDATES

Association & Industry Updates

State Government

  • NJREC will allow for online pre-licensure classes
  • New fire code inspection guidelines released
  • Guidelines for appraisals
  • On March 30, the Governor announced an update to Executive Order 107 allow real estate agents to show houses on a 1-on-1 basis, with a prohibition on open houses. Additional guidance to follow. Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order 107 on Saturday, March 21, effectively shuttering all non-essential businesses and asking New Jerseyans to stay home.
  • We have recommended the following courses of action to reduce the delay and or halting of real estate transactions. 
    • Fire Inspections: to waive, suspend, or modify CSACMAPFEC inspections and procedures for obtaining a Certificate of Smoke Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Alarm and Portable Fire Extinguisher Compliance (CSACMAPFEC) required under N.J.A.C 5:70-2.3(a).
  • Certificates of Occupancy: we are working to suspend or modify the requirements for Certificates of Occupancy, including the suggestion that these inspections be done "virtually"
    • Deed recordings and title searches: we are aware that many counties have online databases, however, we are working to determine what can be done in counties that do not yet have these capabilities.
  • Per Gov. Murphy's office, there is a moratorium on evictions during the ongoing pandemic. 
  • New Jersey EDA announces grant and loan programs
  • New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency