May 28, 2020
The Spokane Association of REALTORS® will re-open its office at 1924 North Ash Street on Monday, June 1st.
The physical office was closed and staff moved to a virtual office under the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order back on March 23rd.
You’ll see many changes in the office to put us in compliance with Phase 2 easing such as physical distancing, increased sanitizing, and decreased capacity.
If you prefer to continue to receive virtual service from your association, please be in touch on the phone or online – we welcome the opportunity to serve you either way!
Cited and Fined
Washington businesses that decide to open, or operate in direct violation of Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, may be cited and fined for unsafe workplace conditions under emergency rules filed this week by the state Department of Labor & Industries.
The closure order and the Safe Start Plan to reopen businesses are in place to keep workers and the public safe and to prevent the spread of the easily transmissible coronavirus.
The emergency rules, enacted at the direction of the governor, take effect immediately. They give the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) the authority to cite businesses for being open or for operating in a way that is purposely defying the phased-in approach and, as a result, putting their workers at risk.
Read the agency’s Bulletin #20-014 online here.
May 22, 2020
Spokane County is approved for reopening in Phase 2
The protocols that must be followed for permitted in-person activities include:
• In-person activities must be by appointment only;
• Real estate brokers and industry partners (e.g. appraisers, inspectors, photographers, stagers, etc.) must wear cloth face coverings and should encourage clients and customers to do the same, and social distancing guidelines must be followed by remaining at least six feet apart at all times;
• No more than three people, including the broker, may be at the property at any one time.
May 21, 2020
Legal Hotline Video from Annie Fitzsimmons
Washington REALTORS® Legal Hotline attorney, Annie Fitzsimmons, offers a new video to share where we are – as a state – in Phase 2 easing.
REMEMBER – this is what’s coming, not what is.
Washington REALTORS® has updated its Frequently Asked Questions document so you can begin to think about and plan how you will conduct business under Phase 2 easing.
Download that document (pictured above) online here.
May 20, 2020
Phase 2 Easing
PENDING for SPOKANE COUNTY
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced Tuesday, this week, that Spokane County may apply for Phase 2 status as part of his recovery plan under the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
The county has done that.
This is slightly sooner than his previous announcement that Phase 2 could begin statewide on June 1st.
Approved Phase 2 counties are permitted to conduct limited commercial real estate activities.
Also, real estate offices in Phase 2 counties may re-open to the public pursuant to specific guidelines that will be issued very soon.
Phase 2 county applications will be approved based on various data points including, but not limited to, the number of new Covid-19 infections.
To date, this review and decision process is completed within a week, which means that many counties will be permitted to engage in Phase 2 activities in the very near future.
WHEN PHASE 2 IS PERMITTED brokers will be able to conduct real estate business in Washington state IF they comply with five pages of requirements.
The governor’s proclamation from Tuesday (5/19) and list of requirements are offered here:
To date, this review and decision process is completed within a week, which means that many counties will be permitted to engage in Phase 2 activities in the very near future.
May 6, 2020
Governor Releases Safe Start Plan
Washington State is now under Phase 1 of a four phase plan (pictured above) to reopen the state economy.
As of yesterday, May 5th, these activities are now permitted:
- Drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle
- Auto/RV/Boat/ORV sales
- Retail open for curb-side pick-up orders only
- Car washes
- Some pet services (not including grooming)
- Essential travel and limited non-essential travel to engage in Phase 1 activities is permitted.
These activities are in addition to construction activity and outdoor activities (such as fishing, hunting, playing golf, and some park access) that were relaxed last week.
Real estate activities are included in Phase 2, though there is no announced date of when that will be implemented – at least three weeks away.
Governor Inslee said this when he announced his plan this week:
“This phased approach to re-opening our economy will allow us to move forward with a careful and thoughtful balance of our state’s health and economic needs. However, if infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-related issues go up, I would not hesitate to scale these efforts back down to protect public health and save lives.
I fully recognize the impact this is having on families, workers and businesses, but we have not yet won the fight against this virus,” Inslee continued. “We continue to see infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths across the state from COVID-19.”
Download the complete Safe Start Washington document (pictured above) online here.
April 24, 2020
NAR Center for Financial Wellness
The National Association of REALTORS® is proud to welcome you to the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness, a new resource designed to help you understand your financial planning options and prepare for the future, one step at a time. No matter where you are in your career or stage of financial planning, we have something for you—budgeting tools, retirement planning resources, information about investing in real estate, and more.
CLICK HERE to watch a decent video on financial wellness for REALTORS®
April 22, 2020
PUA WEBINAR SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in the federal CARES Act is being implemented at the state level by the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD). ESD will be providing a webinar for REALTORS® to explain the program, eligibility, filing requirements, and provide other information.
ESD has designed this webinar for REALTORS® who have:
- Already obtained a SAW account; and
- Have either not yet applied for regular unemployment insurance, or who have applied for it and been denied.
NOTE: We are aware of a number of filing problems experienced by REALTORS® and other independent contractors, but this webinar is not designed to address individual questions or filing problems. Washington REALTORS® has provided ESD with the most common questions about PUA received to date, and those questions will be included in the webinar.
BEFORE THE WEBINAR:
Prior to the webinar, you should obtain a SAW account here: https://esd.wa.gov/employer-taxes/EAMS-SecureAccess-Washington And please note that if you obtain a SAW account and want to apply for regular UI in order to be denied and then be able to apply for PUA, a broker who works as an independent contractor (not an employee of their brokerage) should not answer that they “worked for” their brokerage. If you answer “YES” to this question as an independent contractor, it will result in substantial delay as you will have to correct this error by contacting ESD’s phone line, which is currently overwhelmed with demand.
April 20, 2020
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for independent contractors and self-employed workers is now open (4/20).
Visit the Washington Employment Security Department to learn more and start your claim:
April 13, 2020
BROKERS – Have you heard you can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?
PUA is for workers like independent contractors who do not qualify for regular state unemployment.
The Washington State Employment Security Department is currently deciding who will qualify, and how you will show your employment status and income. The department will begin accepting PUA applications on April 20th, but you should apply now and get in line if you are at all interested in this.
First, open a Secure Access Washington (SAW account); apply for regular unemployment (that’s how you get in line – but you’ll be rejected – that’s OK); then you’ll be ready to apply for your PUA when that line opens in a couple of weeks. You’ll be able to claim benefits whether you’re fully or partially unemployed because of the COVID-19 crisis.
When you’re ready, click here to begin the process.
April 6, 2020
COMPLY WITH COVID-19 GUIDELINES
NAR President Vince Malta shares an important message about REALTORS®’ special responsibility to follow federal, state, and local COVID guidance to help keep their clients and communities safe.
April 2, 2020
The Legal Hotline is receiving more and more inquiries like the one below, asking what to do if a broker has been showing homes and then tests positive for COVID-19. What that broker and his/her designated broker MUST do is time and labor intensive, as you will read below. If you lack the capacity to take proper actions following discovery of an infection, do not take part in any in-person activities, no matter how limited in scope.
As a reminder, under the Governor’s March 28 Memorandum, you may but are not required to offer certain limited real estate services with the proviso that you must work remotely as much as possible. If you decide to engage in necessary in-person activities, then they must be limited to no more than two persons and must follow strict social distancing protocols. To be clear: you do NOT have to perform in-person activities. Despite anything you’ve heard to the contrary, you do NOT have to do showings.
In fact, under the Governor’s Memo, you are discouraged from doing showings or otherwise meeting with clients or vendors. Remote work from home is by far the preferred option. If you choose to do showings, act responsibly. As NAR’s General Counsel has advised, try to limit new listings and showings to sellers and buyers with immediate housing needs. Try to limit the number of people who view a seller’s home, or the number of homes a buyer views.
If you choose to do showings or otherwise interact with the public, then you are accepting certain responsibilities to protect the public, as the Governor’s memo makes clear. Therefore, the Hotline answer below includes suggested protocols for a broker and designated broker if a broker who has been interacting with consumers tests positive for Covid-19. If designated brokers are unable to research and deliver the suggested notices, designated brokers should consider refraining from and prohibiting brokers from engaging in in-person delivery of Real Estate Brokerage Services.
LEGAL HOTLINE QUESTION:
Broker just tested positive for Covid-19. Until very recently, she was showing houses. What should broker do? What should broker’s firm do?
Broker should immediately self-quarantine and immediately notify broker’s designated broker of this information. Broker and DB should prepare a list of all clients with whom broker has had in-person contact and homes broker has entered in the prior 21 days.
Designated broker should contact DB’s MLS to determine all of the properties broker has accessed through her MLS key. DB should also identify all the properties that broker has listed and determine the last time broker was in the listed property.
DB should contact all of the clients with whom broker has had in-person contact and the listing broker for every property broker entered in the last 21 days and put those individuals on notice. For properties where the broker is the listing broker and has been in seller’s home in the previous 21 days, DB should notify seller and every buyer broker who accessed the home since the listing broker’s presence in the property to put them on notice.
The notice should say that DB has knowledge that a broker licensed to DB’s firm has tested positive for Covid-19 and that broker was in the property located at :________________ on [date of access]. Further, the notice should advise anyone impacted by the information to consult a doctor to understand how to proceed. DB should not reveal the identity of the broker as that information is irrelevant to the notice and would be considered personal information.
Upon receipt of such a notice, any listing broker should notify his/her seller and other buyer brokers who accessed seller’s home since the afflicted broker was in the home. Upon receipt of notice by a buyer’s broker, buyer’s broker should notify the buyer who was in the same house since the afflicted broker was in the home.
These are suggested practices. DB should consult the firm’s legal counsel and local health officials for additional guidance on this issue.
April 1, 2020
ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS and STAGERS
This information is based on clarification requests that were submitted by photography and staging companies to the Governor’s office. Those companies have requested that we forward this clarification to our members. See below for the revised FAQ document provided by Washington REALTORS® and the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Can professional photographers take photos and create virtual tours during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order? (NEW April 1, 2020)
Yes. Information concerning real estate services indicates that professional photography for listings is now permitted. Like all other in-person activities, photos and virtual tours must be by appointment, a total of no more than two people may be at property at any one time, and those two people must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines established by the CDC. Sellers should vacate the property prior to any photography activities.
Note that creating virtual tours is an effective way to allow buyers to view the property without the need for an in-person showing.
Can stagers stage homes and remove furniture from a listing during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order? (Revised April 1, 2020)
Yes. Information concerning real estate services indicates that staging a home and removing staging items is now permitted. Like all other in-person activities, staging activities must be by appointment, a total of no more than two people may be at property at any one time, and those two people must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines established by the CDC. Sellers should vacate the property prior to any staging activities.
Click here, for the latest Washington REALTORS® FAQ.
March 31, 2020
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT
Washington REALTORS® has received confirmation from the Governor’s Office that property management services for single and multi-family residential buildings (including apartment buildings) are within the scope of Governor Inslee’s March 28 residential Real Estate services memo. This means that residential single and multi-family property management, including working with tenants, can occur subject to the requirements of the memo. Residential property managers must strictly comply with the requirements of the memo, which means that (1) in-person meetings with tenants are prohibited except when necessary to view a property or sign necessary documents; (2) any in-person viewing must be by appointment and limited to no more than two people on site; and (3) social distancing requirements apply to those two on-site persons. Property managers must perform any service remotely whenever possible.
REALTORS® in property management should also be aware of Governor Inslee’s March 25 Construction Guidance memo. That memo provides that commercial and residential construction is not authorized under the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, except for certain essential activities, or “[t]o prevent spoliation and avoid damage or unsafe conditions, and address emergency repairs at both non-essential businesses and residential structures.” Thus, certain property management functions relating to safety and emergency repairs at residential properties may proceed based on the March 25 Construction guidance, while other property management services can occur based on the March 28 Real Estate guidance.
REALTORS® urge property managers to strictly comply with the requirements of Governor Inslee’s Real Estate memo to provide services remotely whenever possible, have only two persons on-site for a necessary purpose, and maintain social distancing at all times.
UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR REALTORS®
WR has received word that the Washington Employment Security Department should have information later today on how independent contractors, including REALTORS®, can access Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. Stay tuned for more information.
INSLEE PROVIDES ENFORCEMENT GUIDANCE ON ‘STAY HOME, STAY HEALTHY’ ORDER
Gov. Jay Inslee announced guidance for state and local enforcement of his recent “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. He made clear that he is serious about obtaining compliance with the Order for the protection of our citizens, and he is providing guidance to local law enforcement on enforcing bans on gatherings of individuals. Washington REALTORS® agrees that compliance is of paramount importance and should be the FIRST priority of ALL our members. Please note that the state has created a one-stop online form for reporting businesses potentially violating orders. This means everything you do is subject to public scrutiny and reporting. Consequences can include license revocation and can escalate from there.
It is important for real estate brokers to follow the Governor’s order to letter, to protect your clients, your fellow brokers and the community at large. For example, consider things you would not normally think about…your buyer stands next to you on the doorstep as you access the key from the key box…you shake your buyer’s hand in greeting as you emerge from your car…you walk together down a hallway in the seller’s home…all of that close contact is prohibited by the Governor’s showing protocols. Additionally, remember that the recent modifications granting real estate brokers limited capacity to close pending deals and do very limited showings can be retracted by the Governor at any point. If you have questions, please reference the revised FAQs or email email@example.com.
REVISED FAQs INCLUDE GUIDANCE FOR MOVERS
QUESTION: Can moving companies move buyers into a property and move sellers out of a property?
ANSWER: The Washington Mover’s Conference (the statewide trade association for moving and storage companies) has received information from the Governor’s office that moving companies are permitted to operate when needed to ensure that people remain in housing, that contracts are fulfilled, or that vulnerable individuals are removed from danger. All moving work must be conducted with the fewest employees possible and follow social distancing and sanitation measures.
March 30, 2020
Ever since Governor Inslee issued his Memorandum on March 28 listing residential real estate as an “essential service” subject to strict limitations and protocols, we have received many questions about the meaning of the Governor’s Memo. We also have heard from members who disagree with it.
To be clear: it is the Governor’s intent, and it is the unwavering position of Washington REALTORS®, that public safety and stopping the spread of the virus is the paramount consideration and the top priority of everything we do as an organization and as an industry. This means that the overriding directive is that real estate brokers must limit personal interactions with and among the public to the greatest extent possible, engage personally only when necessary, and must do so within the strict protocols of the Governor’s residential real estate memo and his Stay Home Stay Healthy order.
Governor Inslee’s March 28 memo regarding residential real estate services is based on the importance of providing housing to the public, especially for the 17,000 pending transactions that if not completed, could result in critical housing problems. Getting those transactions closed is a priority. The Governor’s directive balances these housing needs with the importance of protecting public health through social distancing. Compared to other states, Washington now has far more detailed and specific public health restrictions on allowed residential real estate services.
The Governor’s memo does not establish that all real estate brokerage and related services are “essential.” Rather, the memo provides that only certain residential real estate services are essential and that those specific services are subject to strict and very specific social distancing protocols. These industry-specific social distancing requirements, such as the limit of having only 2 people at a property during showings or inspections, are more stringent and more protective of public health than the social distancing guidelines in effect for other industry sectors in Washington State, or in other state or federal guidelines.
Washington is not an outlier. The federal government, through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, provides a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” and this list also includes residential real estate as essential. Many other states have issued “Stay at Home” or “Shelter in Place” orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. These orders include a list of governmental and business operations that are deemed “essential,” and so can continue to operate subject to social distancing requirements. Many states have deemed certain residential real estate services as an essential. But again, Washington’s restrictions and protocols are more stringent than most other states. Please follow them to the letter.
QUESTION: Am I allowed to provide property management services?
ANSWER: No. The March 28 guidance was directed at sales activity only. Washington REALTORS® continues to work with the Governor’s office on several remaining priority requests, with property management being at the top of the list. It seems apparent that the Governor recognizes the critical nature that housing plays in resolution of our health crisis and is attempting to craft orders that will allow the professionals to work toward meeting the needs of residents while operating safely in the midst of a pandemic. Although platitudes are not what a property manager wants to hear today, please know that Washington REALTORS® and the Governor’s office are both working as efficiently as possible to resolve the myriad of housing issues confronting members of Washington REALTORS® and the communities they serve.
CONFUSION SURROUNDING PHOTOGRAPHERS
QUESTION: With the WR update regarding the Governor’s March 28 memo, it specifies that we can’t hire professional photographers. Our firm has an employee who is in charge of marketing but also does our photos. Do you feel she would be considered a professional photographer under these rules? [The Legal Hotline also received numerous inquiries asking if another RE broker with photography skills (other than the listing broker) could enter seller’s property to take photos/virtual tour. The answer below applies to both scenarios.]
ANSWER: DB should recall that the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, which is still in full force and effect, says that every person should stay home unless they fit into one of the narrow exceptions. On March 28, Governor Inslee further defined an exception regarding housing to allow the fewest in-person contacts as absolutely necessary to get those buyers and sellers desperate to make a move now, moving.
There is probably a way to manipulate the literal requirements of his March 28 order to fit the parameters of this question but putting a photographer in seller’s home during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order violates the spirit and intent of both the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and the Governor’s clarifying memo of March 28. This is true whether the photographer happens to have a RE license or not.
The purpose of the March 28 order was not to get a broker or firm employee with photography skills into seller’s home. The purpose was to get a listing broker, needed by the seller on an emergent basis, into seller’s home with minimal exposure between people and between broker and seller’s home … and to get a buyer, with buyer’s needed broker, into seller’s home with minimal exposure between people and within seller’s home. DB should not send an extra broker or firm employee into seller’s home, to take photos, until after the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is lifted.
BREAKING NEWS FROM OLYMPIA
March 28, 2020
“Real estate activities along with mortgage lending activities have been approved as essential activities under the Proclamation.”
“Such activities shall only be permitted under the following restrictions and limitations:
a) In-person meetings with customers are prohibited except when necessary for a customer to view a property or sign necessary documents;
b) No real estate open houses shall be permitted;
c) Property viewings, inspections, appraisals, and final walk-troughs shall be arranged by appointment and limited to no more than two people on site at any one time, exercising social distancing at all times; and
d) Except for the llimited exceptions authorized above, all new real estate listings shall be facilitated remotely.
Read the governor’s memorandum (pictured above), online here.
Washington REALTORS® spent the morning going through the governor’s memorandum and creating “Updated: Frequently Asked Questions” to offer guidance to Members across the state.
Read this document (pictured above) online here.
SPECIAL FAQ AVAILABLE
LEGAL HOTLINE LAWYER ANNIE FITZSIMMONS
& NWMLS LEGAL COUNSEL JUSTIN HAAG
March 26, 2020
WR Legal Hotline Lawyer Annie Fitzsimmons and NWMLS Legal Counsel Justin Haag have put together this list of frequently asked questions to help us all understand how Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” emergency order impacts real estate brokers and related professionals.
Contrary to rumors, real estate has not been “shut down” but is working in limited capacity for the next two weeks as mandated by Governor Inslee. Real estate professionals are working to facilitate the 17,000 transactions currently in the pipeline and some of these questions may clarify what REALTORS® can and cannot do, as well as address some of the related industries we all rely upon to close a transaction. Washington REALTORS® has been working with the cabinet-level staff within the Governor’s office but the Governor’s order remains very clear about certain things. Please review the list of FAQs below and if you have further questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a general question about operating your real estate business
under the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, please ask it here.
We’ll share the answer in the next edition of this newsletter.
Dear SAR member:
It is the official position of the Spokane Association of REALTORS® that all Members must comply with the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, beginning Wednesday, March 25th, at midnight and ending Wednesday, April 8th, at midnight (unless continued by the governor).
All in-person contact with your clients must cease: no meetings, no showings, no open houses.
Virtual/electronic activity may continue and is encouraged: video meetings, virtual tours/open houses, and electronic documents/signing.
It may be a violation of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and possibly also a violation of law to conduct business as usual, in person, during this time.
Writing for the SAR Board of Directors
Tom Clark, 2020 SAR President
March 24, 2020
REALTORS® are often looked up to as thought and behavior leaders in our community. Be the REALTOR® your clients expect you to be for the next two weeks.
Your staying home right now is not so you can help protect 500,000 people in Spokane County; it’s how 500,000 people in Spokane County can help protect you and your loved ones. We’re all in this together.
When the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order expires, it will be important for you to keep good health habits in place at home as well as in your business as a REALTOR®.
2020 SAR President Tom Clark gets some advice for REALTORS® from Dr. Bob Lutz, Chief Medical Officer for Spokane Regional Health District, on how to conduct business under current COVID-19 conditions.
See the three-minute video online here:
Your Spokane Association of REALTORS® is open for business under new rules until further notice due to the governor’s emergency order from the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The doors to the office at 1924 North Ash Street are locked; all staff continues to work remotely.
It is our pleasure to continue to serve you as a valued member of the Association during this challenging time.
Your business continues so our business continues. Let’s stay in touch:
Telephone: (509) 326-9222
Regular business hours: weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
All Spokane Association of REALTORS® COVID-19 resources are online here.
Many national, state, and local governmental agencies are making resources available to businesses during the COVID-19 shutdown. Your Spokane Association of REALTORS® Governmental Affairs committee is picking the best of these to share with you online here.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has issued a Stay Home – Stay Healthy Order (pictured above) effective throughout Washington State effective at midnight tonight (Wednesday, March 25th).
This order prohibits all people in Washington State from leaving their homes or participating in social, spiritual and recreational gatherings of any kind regardless of the number of participants, and all non-essential businesses in Washington State from conducting business.”
This prohibition shall remain in effect until midnight on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, unless extended beyond that date.
Real Estate activity must be conducted remotely for the next two weeks, starting this (Wednesday) evening.
In-person showings, physically touring houses with buyers, and holding open houses are not consistent with the Governor’s message. These activities must stop for the next two weeks.
Read Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order online here.
See the list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” online here.
Read “What the Governor’s Emergency Order Means for REALTORS®” online here.
Washington REALTORS® Legal Hotline attorney Annie Fitzsimmons puts it all together in this excellent video recorded in her Legal Hotline bunker and shared with you here.
Click on this image to see her nine-minute video:
Washington REALTORS® CEO Steve Francks and Governmental Affairs Director Nathan Gorton team up on a video to share an early view on where things are for real estate in Washington State as we go through the COVID-19 shutdown together.
See their 11-minute video online here:
2020 Washington REALTORS® President Kitty Wallace is working remotely from her Cle Elum home.
“I, too, am a REALTOR® just like you,” says Kitty. “I depend on selling houses. But, right now, we need to hunker down.”
See Kitty’s four-minute video online here:
NAR, last week, published “Coronavirus – A Guide for REALTORS®”
The document comes in response to the growing concerns about COVID-19, commonly referred to as Corona Virus.