The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a great amount of uncertainty as every corner of the country deals with this nearly unprecedented health crisis and social distancing measures. One thing on the mind of tens of millions of Americans is rent or mortgage payments. Others worry about the effects on the housing market as a whole. To try to bring some clarity in these uncertain weeks and months ahead, we have assembled some answers to common questions that intersect with real estate law.
Do I still have to pay rent on the first of the month?
Specific relief and obligations for renters are generally decided on the state and local levels. Fortunately, more than 30 states have taken action to help renters and mortgage borrowers, but if you haven’t received specific guidance yet, be prepared to pay at least something at the start of each month for now. If you are genuinely worried about your ability to pay rent, which millions are, get in touch with your landlord and see if something can be worked out.
Can I be evicted anytime soon?
Again, this is something that is more applicable to guidance from your particular state, but the federal government has issued a 60-day moratorium on evictions in federal housing and properties that are backed by federal loans.
As a realtor, what should I handle effects from the pandemic, and what should I expect?
No other profession will be affected quite like real estate brokers and agents in the coming days, weeks, and months. Stay-at-home orders have eliminated home showings in more than half the states, and almost all steps involved in the closing process must be done virtually. You may ask current and prospective clients if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are currently experiencing related symptoms. However, you should ask all clients the same questions; Asian Americans have increasingly been the target of racist tirades and attacks due to the virus’ Chinese origins, so be sure you are treating everyone equally.
It is frustrating for those who work in the real estate market to be affected by the current health crisis when the spring selling season was just getting underway. All steps involved in closing on properties that must be done in person will be delayed unless there is some way to complete them virtually. While the average home price will probably see a very modest decrease, the amount of buyers is also poised to dramatically decrease. Doing as much as you can over video and the telephone is crucial to continue to sell listings. If you are able to hold open houses, practice social distancing and triple down on disinfecting every surface that will be or has been touched.
Conditions for renters and the housing market are extremely fluid, and it will be months for everything to start getting back to normal. If you have a specific question about your lease agreement or performing your real estate duties, reach out to our firm so we can help you find a solution.