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Seattle Real Estate & Stay-at-Home

By March 23, 2020

Et cetera

While it has oddly been business-as-usual for Seattle real estate these past two weeks that’s dramatically changing with the closure of non-essential businesses.

Here’s the latest from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the organization that facilitates cooperation among real estate firms and their agents.

Real estate brokerage services are not on the list of essential services.  Real estate firms must close their offices to comply with the order.  Certain workers in the “Financial Services Sector” have been deemed essential workers.  This includes workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financing transactions and services and insurance companies including mortgage lenders, escrow and title insurers.  

Because the Financial Services Sector is considered essential, real estate transactions that are under contract may be able to proceed to closing (it is likely that lenders, title, and escrow will continue to operate).  Of course, there could be delays, which is why the parties should use the new Force Majeure and Closing Addendum (Form 22FM), published by NWMLS last week.  You should refer your clients to an attorney if they have any questions regarding their legal rights and responsibilities related to the purchase and sale agreement.

While the order is in place . . .

Real estate brokers may:

  • Provide services to their clients remotely from their house; and
  • Use technology services that enable remote business, including online forms, electronic signatures, virtual tours, videos, and similar tools.

Real estate brokers may not:

  • Conduct any business outside of their home, including physically showing or previewing properties, conducting in-person listing presentations, taking property photos, staging homes, etc.  Any person who violates the Governor’s order not only puts himself/herself and his/her family at great personal risk, but also puts the real estate firm and his/her clients at risk.

NWMLS is working with Washington Realtors, which is in direct communication with the Governor’s office, to understand more specifics regarding the order (e.g., if appraisers and inspectors will be able to continue to conduct appraisals and inspections).  

NWMLS is analyzing how to best handle active listings while the order is in place.  It is possible that days on market (DOM) and cumulative days on market (CDOM) will be suspended while the stay at home order is in place.  Stay tuned for additional information about active listings.  

Brokers should use Tuesday, March 24th and Wednesday, March 25th to conduct any necessary business outside the home, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.  This may include conducting home inspections, creating virtual tours and videos, retrieving files from the office, and other business needs.

Crazy times for sure!

Real estate is a wild west at the best of times so I’m sure some agents will unfortunately not respect the stay-at-home directive and will continue to list and show homes.

At Urban Living we will honor the directive and will not be showing or listing any homes in the interest of public safety and the safety of clients and ourselves.Though we will be working from home ensuring our clients under contract close as smoothly as possible. And with more time on our hands, hopefully we can get to our long list of blog posts we’ve been meaning to write.

We also anticipate that some buyers will continue to write offers, perhaps even sight unseen. We may see those buyers include long inspection contingencies that let them view the property after the closure is lifted, but still allow them to back out if the home isn’t to their satisfaction. We are also now including a new NWMLS form, 22FM, the “force majeure” addendum which allows for an automatic extension of contingency and closing deadlines in the event of something like the pandemic we’re currently experiencing.

If you were thinking of selling, better to get on your stager and photographer’s schedule soon. They will likely be slammed once the stay-at-home order is lifted.

Of course with some time on our hands, if you want to take your mind off the pandemic and chat real estate, let me know; happy to chat via text/phone/Facetime!

Hang in there and safe stay!

I own and manage Urban Living, a boutique Seattle and Bellevue real estate brokerage. I love lofts, floating homes, new construction, and mid-century moderns, but I will help you buy or sell just about anything!

Get in touch to:

  • Understand the market
  • Find your perfect home
  • Sell your home