Last update: June 2, 2020
As we’ve evaluated the orders of the various cities, counties, and the State of Texas and in consideration of additional orders in the future, it has become clear that overall guidance is needed in an effort to help provide some level of continuity across our membership.
CCAR believes that all real estate services and related activities are essential to the life, health, and safety of communities and residents. Further, these services provide shelter, an essential need to ensure that government orders can be followed accordingly. CCAR proactively advocated on behalf of our membership to our elected officials and will continue to do so to ensure that your operations are affected to the least extent possible during these times. Due to CCAR, Texas REALTORS®, and and NAR’s proactive efforts in contacting and communicating closely with our local, state, and federal elected officials and regulatory bodies, we have been able to ensure that you are open for business and are essential to our communities. We are proud that your REALTOR® Associations were able to help ensure your essential service in these times. Our city councils, mayors, commissioners, judges, and state and federal elected officials truly understand the importance of providing real estate services as a helpful resource to remedy the spread of COVID-19. If we receive notice that the orders are amended and real estate services are affected, we will notify you.
The following statements have been prepared to the best of our ability and should not be considered legal opinions or interpretations. Decisions made about your business practices should be made in consultation with your Broker. Brokers should seek legal guidance from their own attorneys when considering changes to their business and operations.
REALTOR® BUSINESS OPERATIONS
What are my REALTOR® Associations doing to ensure that I can still do business?
REALTOR® advocacy has never been stronger. We are happy to report that REALTORS® are able to continue their operations across the state so long as each maintains the 6/10 rule. The 6/10 rule means that business can be conducted so long as you remain six feet away from interacting with others and in a capacity of less than 10 people in a given area. Practice social distancing at all times and abide by the CDC guidelines. This is not business as usual, our guidance is that, to the greatest extent possible, our members make every effort to show properties and close transactions virtually. However, please also read and ensure that you are following any county or city orders, because while real estate services are deemed essential, the local governments have the authority to police and set certain rules and requirements for when you are practicing. Violation of these rules could subject you to various fines and possible imprisonment (see Dallas County Order Exhibit F as of April 6, 2020).
What does Governor Abbott’s executive order mean for me?
On March 31, 2020, Governor Abbott issued a state-wide shelter in place order. This order requires that people stay in their shelter and can only leave if a service is deemed essential. Further, the order supersedes any previously issued city or county order that conflicts with the State order. Therefore, it is critical that you abide by the State order to ensure that you are not violating the law. The Governor’s order deems real estate services as essential across all of Texas, irrespective of what a local or county ordinance states. Therefore, all property in Texas is subject to the State order, as are all agents, buyers, and sellers who are residents of Texas. However, the local cities and counties are possibly able to police real estate services and issue more restrictive rules and practices regarding real estate services.
The following is the breakdown of the order and the essential service language:
Following is the language in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Version 2.0” that is referenced in Governor Abbott’s Order:
- Collin County
- Dallas County (also see Dallas County Order Exhibit F as of April 6, 2020)
- Denton County
- Rockwall County
What does this mean for my real estate activities?
First, at all times, ensure that you abide by the 6/10 rule and be in-line with any local authority orders that contain specific rules. If you cannot operate your business by ensuring that rule, you should not operate—period. Real estate services and REALTOR® operations are now open across the state (this includes mortgage, title, insurance, and inspectors). Practice social distancing at all times and abide by the CDC guidelines. This is not business as usual, our guidance is that, to the greatest extent possible, our members make every effort to show properties and close transactions virtually. If you are a resident who lives in a city or county that has specific rules and police enforcement for real estate services and agents and/or offices, make sure that you read the order, speak with your Broker, and consult an attorney.
What are best practices given these orders?
Always listen to your Broker. CCAR is not in the business of telling Brokers or their agents how to conduct their business. We recommend that Brokers and agents operate in the following manner. This is simply a recommendation of best practices:
- Utilize the information and guidelines regarding best practices released by NAR: nar.realtor/coronavirus
- In an office setting, limit staff to essential employees and ensure that the office abides by the 6/10 rule.
- To the greatest extent possible, all interactions with clients should be conducted virtually.
- Traditional open houses are discouraged because the 6/10 rule will likely be violated. Your Broker, however, has the ultimate say.
- When showing houses, follow the strictest CDC hygienic guidelines.
- Always abide by the 6/10 rule.
- If needed, check Texas REALTORS® forms for withdrawals or extensions. Be sure to review their COVID-19 Addendum.
- If you are a resident who lives in a city or county that has specific rules and police enforcement for real estate services and agents and/or offices, make sure that you read the order, speak with your Broker, and consult an attorney.
Does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act apply to Brokerages as employers?
Recent federal legislation provides paid leave options for employees of some businesses. Those businesses are now required to provide certain benefits for COVID-19-related absences. Here are several frequently asked questions surrounding the new law.
CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT (CARES Act): PROVISIONS FOR REALTORS® AND THEIR CONSUMERS
For information on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and its provisions for REALTORS® and their clients, visit the following Texas REALTORS® and NAR resources:
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – Provisions for REALTORS® and Their Consumers
- Impact of H.R. 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” on NAR Members
- CARES Act Congressional Research
- Coronavirus Emergency Legislation: What REALTORS® Need to Know
- Coronavirus FAQs: Independent Contractors and Unemployment Compensation
- Coronavirus: Unemployment Assistance CARES Act FAQs
- Apply for Unemployment: Texas Workforce Commission
- Coronavirus Small Business Administration (SBA) CARES Act FAQs
- Coronavirus: SBA CARES Act FAQs
- CCAR’s CARES Act for Small Businesses Webinar
- Small Business Loans FAQ
- Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application
- Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses (PDF)
- Treasury Department Paycheck Protection Program Information Sheet
- SBA 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program Application
- SBA Interim Final Rule
- DOL List of State Unemployment Offices
- DOL Unemployment Benefits Guide
— Collin County Association of REALTORS® —
The Collin County Association of REALTORS® (CCAR) is committed to the health and safety of our members, staff, and visitors. We are continually monitoring the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates, and based on the most recent information available, CCAR has updated its COVID-19 Action Plan effective June 1, 2020. Over the upcoming days and weeks, this plan will be re-assessed, and if needed, adjusted and/or extended. Any changes to this plan will be communicated to you thoroughly through all of CCAR’s communication channels: Email, website, social media, etc.
We look forward to the time in which we can resume normal operations, but until then, please know that we will do our best to assist you in any way that we can. Should you have any questions regarding CCAR’s COVID-19 response, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 972-618-3800 or [email protected].
Office Closures, Store & Supra Purchases, Member Services & MLS Support:
- CCAR has converted its services to phone, online, and product pick-up only.
- All CCAR offices (Plano, Dallas, McKinney, and Wylie) are offering Member Services, MLS Support, REALTOR® Store orders, and Supra orders/support online and via phone, Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Please order online at www.ccar.net/store or call 972-618-3800 to place and pay for your order, and a staff member will gather the items for your pick-up outside the building.
- All CCAR office buildings are currently closed to indoor visits.
- All classes scheduled through August 31, 2020 will not meet in person. However, they will be held online live through Zoom.
- Individuals registered for classes will be sent instructions on how to join the class via Zoom. Individuals participating in Zoom classes must have a Web camera, so that the instructor can see them for the entire length of the class. Attendees must be in front of the camera the entire length of the class to receive credit. In addition, Zoom attendees will be asked to show their ID so that their identity can be confirmed for TREC credit. CCAR will send Zoom attendees the TREC completion roster to sign electronically.
- CCAR’s class cancellation policy is still in effect. Please review the policy, and if you have questions, please contact CCAR’s Professional Development Department at 972-618-3800 or [email protected].
- CCAR also encourages members to use our online education partners.
- Committee meetings scheduled through August 31, 2020 will be accessible online only through Zoom. No meetings will be held in person.
- CCAR staff liaisons will email committee members information specific to their upcoming meetings, as well as instructions for joining the meeting online.
- All events scheduled through August 31, 2020 are cancelled and/or postponed (this includes Business Development Meetings).
- Please visit CCAR’s calendar for the most current class/event/meeting information.
- All CCAR-supported travel for Officers, Directors, and staff is suspended through August 31, 2020. This includes travel to conferences, meetings, etc.
— Texas REALTORS® Informational Resources —
- Coronavirus Information and Updates at the State Level
- Broker Resources Related to COVID-19
- FAQ: Brokerage Issues and Closings
- Leasing and Property Management FAQs
- COVID-19 Addendum
- COVID-19 Lease Payment Plan Agreement
- May 2 Municipal Elections
Federal Appraisal Standards
On March 23, the Federal Housing Finance Agency directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to allow the use of appraisal alternatives to reduce the need for appraisers to conduct interior property inspections for eligible mortgages through May 17, 2020. This move is intended to reduce transaction delays due to appraisers unable or unwilling to enter properties to conduct interior inspections. See more updates on federal advocacy at nar.realtor/coronavirus.
Potential Impact on Property Taxes
Property tax reform legislation passed in 2019 lowers the amount most cities and counties may increase property tax rates year-to-year without voter approval from 8% to 3.5%. However, a governor-declared disaster could allow that amount to stay at 8%. Texas REALTORS® continues to monitor this and other issues relevant to Texas real estate.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Offers Help
The SBA has provided information on applying for Economic Injury Disaster Loans. See the details.
Texas REALTORS® Asks that Real Estate Services be Considered Essential
Texas REALTORS® has been working with the governor’s office, along with industry partners, to ensure that real estate and related public services, such as county clerks and title search information, can continue under any forthcoming gubernatorial orders. On March 20, Texas REALTORS® delivered a letter to the governor’s office asking for his consideration of the real estate industry in any further shutdowns.
Texas REALTORS® has also sent similar letters to the following officials:
- Renee Couch, President of Texas Association of Counties
- Chuck Statler, President of County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas
- Eddie Daffern, President of Texas Municipal League
Primary Runoffs Rescheduled
On March 20, Governor Abbott moved the May 26 primary runoff elections to July 14 to avoid large gatherings. REALTORS® are supporting several pro-real estate candidates in these races for Texas Senate and Texas House seats.
NAR Requests CRE Relief
NAR is advocating for the interests of commercial real estate in relief packages and stimulus plans. NAR’s commercial real estate membership includes specialists in multifamily properties, small businesses, retail/restaurants, warehouses, and offices, among others. Read what NAR is doing.
Abbott Allows Postponement of Local Elections Set for May 2
On March 18, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation suspending provisions of the Texas Election Code to allow political subdivisions to postpone their 2020 local elections. This means local governments now have the ability to postpone their May 2 elections until Nov. 3, 2020. Check with your county to see if your election has been postponed.
— National Association of REALTORS® Informational Resources —
- NAR’s Coronavirus Resources Website
- Coronavirus Guidance for REALTORS®
- Coronavirus Emergency Legislation: What REALTORS® Need to Know
- Coronavirus Resources and Guidance for Employers
- NAR’s Advocacy Work Towards COVID-19 Relief
- Coronavirus Advocacy FAQs: Real Estate Transactions, Independent Contractors, and NAR Grants
- Coronavirus: Mortgage and Personal Finance FAQs
- Coronavirus: SBA CARES Act FAQs
- Coronavirus: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQs
- REALTOR® Resiliency Report
- Navigating Large Brokerages Through COVID-19
NAR’s Federal Advocacy team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure the interests of REALTORS® and their clients are protected in any federal action in response to COVID-19, in addition to minimizing transaction disruptions during these very difficult circumstances. As the actions out of Washington evolve daily, below are a number of questions and answers to address the ongoing fixes being proposed and implemented in response to the pandemic.
Congress has passed an $8 billion stimulus package providing emergency funding to fight COVID-19—the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA)—and is currently working on a third stimulus package, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act). More legislative packages targeted at specific industries are expected after the third phase.
We will update this document as events warrant.
What is NAR doing to promote REALTORS® in the forthcoming stimulus?
We expect there to be a series of bills dealing with this crisis. NAR is focusing on the importance of the real estate industry to the economy, ensuring small businesses and independent contractors are included in any relief, and working to find processes to keep transactions occurring. Find an up-to-date list of what we are doing legislatively here.
Can I use a remote notary to make my closing happen?
A number of states allow for remote notary at this time. Find a list here. NAR is supporting legislation to allow remote notary nationwide. We are pushing for the Remote Online Notary (RON) legislation to be included in any of the disaster relief bills. Find information on that bill here.
What is NAR doing to protect/assist landlords and property managers in places where there are moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures?
NAR is working with a coalition of organizations to ensure that relief for property owners and managers is provided simultaneously to property renters.
My county courthouse is closed, how do I file deed and title?
Here is a link to a real-time database of offices that are closing or reducing operations as a result of the coronavirus.
The commercial real estate sector includes industries (e.g. restaurants, retail, and offices) that are specific to the economic threat this poses and that will be forced to close for the duration of the crisis and may be unable to reopen. What is NAR doing to address this?
NAR recognizes the impact mandated closures will have on businesses throughout the country, and how that will impact the commercial real estate market, as well as the landlords and property managers who work with those businesses. NAR is working with a coalition of other industry groups, including the International Council of Shopping Centers, the Real Estate Roundtable, the National Association of REITS, the National Restaurant Association and the National Apartment Association to advocate for a “Federal Business Interruption and Workers’ Protection Recovery Fund.” Funded by the federal government, it would create a pathway for businesses impacted by the crisis to get assistance and liquidity – regardless of if it was already covered by a business interruption insurance policy or not. NAR will continue to advocate for this and other holistic solutions to the crisis in relief measures considered by the federal government.
In my area, appraisers have stopped appraising; Now what?
We have been working with the federal agencies (HUD, FHFA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae) about appraisal issues during the crisis. FHFA has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to utilize appraisal alternatives to reduce the need for appraisers to conduct interior property inspections for eligible mortgages through May 17, 2020.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have provided detailed appraisal alternative guidance, including directions on using desktop appraisals and exterior inspection only appraisals with specific language that appraisers are to use in their reports.
The HUD, VA and USDA are currently discussing alternatives to interior inspections for appraisals.
I’m not sure I will be able to pay or file my taxes on time for 2019. What do I do?
The IRS has delayed the due date to file and pay any taxes that are due to July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. For more IRS information, check here.
I can’t pay my employees if I am not working. What can I do?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has set up a program for impacted industries to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Find out more here.
Also, the Senate has proposed appropriating an additional $300 billion to the SBA 7(a) loan program, which would include forgivable loans for employers who keep their employees on payroll but are impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. NAR supports this legislation, and is working on its passage.
How do the interest rates being lowered impact us?
On March 16-17 2020, NAR conducted a flash survey of members on the impact of the coronavirus on their market. The survey was delivered to a random sample of 72,734 members. For 96% of respondents, the majority of their business is residential. For 2% of respondents, the majority of their business is commercial. 45% of members cited there was no notable change in client behavior regarding the stock market and mortgage rate change. There is a one-to-one ratio of members who cited the stock market correction significantly damaged confidence, to those who cited lower interest rates excited clients. The share of members who cited the stock market correction influenced clients more than doubled from March 9 to March 16. We will continue to update this survey and will provide results here.
Does the HUD/FHFA moratorium on evictions and foreclosures cover everyone in the country?
No, the moratorium only affects borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA and RHS. This does not apply to the roughly 35% of mortgages held in bank portfolios and private label securities, but some lenders are offering relief.
The HUD notice only applies to FHA single family mortgage borrowers and Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) borrowers. The moratorium is set for 60 days (through May 16). FHFA has also directed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to do the same. Homeowners should check with their mortgage servicer/lender.
I’m going to have a hard time making my student loan payments, as my job was put on hiatus during the crisis. What do I do?
The Department of Education announced that it will allow forbearance on federally-backed student loans for the next sixty days. Likewise, the Administration has also waived all interest on student loans for this period. You must contact your loan servicer to begin a forbearance.
Should we be drinking the water? Is it safe?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual. EPA has provided important information about COVID-19 as it relates to drinking water and wastewater to provide clarity to the public. The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low.
I’m worried about my credit score. What should I do if a miss a few payments due to the crisis?
Reach out to your servicer, bank or credit card company if you are having trouble making your payments. Many of them have in-state programs to offer relief during this time. FICO has also set up a number of recommendations to protect your credit score during the pandemic.
Commercial Owner Questions
I am in the middle of a 1031 like-kind exchange, and now the town I am buying the replacement property in has shut down. I’m not going to make the 180- day deadline. What do I do?
NAR wrote to the Department of Treasury seeking deadline relief for the 1031 like-kind exchange program. We are working to get these extensions included in any future Administration actions or legislative packages.
I may not be able to meet the 31-month “working capital safe harbor” for my opportunity fund investment if development stops. What do I do?
NAR sent a letter to the Treasury asking for relief for the working capital safe harbor for Qualified Opportunity Funds. We are working to get these extensions included in any future Administration actions or legislative packages.
I was in the middle on an eviction for failure to pay of a tenant in my single- family rental property. Now that all evictions are halted, how do I pay my mortgage?
Your mortgage may be covered by the moratorium on foreclosure, but hopefully it won’t get to that. NAR has worked with a coalition of organizations to lobby for security in all of the real estate waterfall (click here for coalition letter to congress). If you stop evictions for tenants, you must also provide relief for property owners.
Independent Contractor/Small Business Concerns
Are independent contractors entitled to paid leave?
Self-employed individuals may be eligible for paid leave administered through refundable tax credits if they meet the qualifications under the FFCRA’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act if they were: Subject to a quarantine or isolation order; has been advised to self-quarantine; is experiencing symptoms; or, must care for an individual who is subject to an isolation order or who is a quarantined employee; or is on leave to care for a son or daughter if the school or place of care for the child has been closed or the child care provider of the child is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
Eligible self-employed individuals are able to claim a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave equivalent amount for those who must self-isolate, obtain a diagnosis, or comply with a self-isolation recommendation with respect to COVID-19. Eligible self-employed individuals caring for a family member or for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to COVID-19 receive a credit equal to 67% of a qualified sick leave equivalent amount.
For more on the details of the paid leave, see here.
Are small business owners required to offer paid leave to employees?
Under the FFCRA, businesses with fewer than 500 employees must offer extended family and medical leave (FMLA expansion) and the new paid sick leave. For the new paid sick leave, full-time employees can receive up to 80 hours of sick leave, while part-time workers are eligible for leave based on their scheduled or normal work hours in a two-week period. The paid sick leave is calculated based on the employee’s regular compensation but is capped at $511 per day for employees subject to a quarantine or isolation order; has been advised to self-quarantine; is experiencing symptoms; and at $200 per day if needing to care for an individual who is subject to an isolation order or who is a quarantined employee; or needing to care for a son or daughter if the school or place of care for the child has been closed or the child care provider of the child is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions. If an employer already offers paid sick leave, this emergency paid sick leave must be offered in addition to that.
For more on the details of the paid leave, see here.
Is there an exemption for small business owners required to offer paid leave to employees?
The Department of Labor (DOL) has been granted authority to exempt from the paid family and sick leave requirements employers with fewer than 50 employees if the requirement to provide leave would jeopardize the viability of the business. The details of how to obtain this exemption have not yet been released by DOL.
Are independent contractors entitled to unemployment insurance?
Under the CARES Act proposed legislation, there is a provision that provides for a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through Dec. 31, 2020, which provides payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (including the self-employed) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. The Department of Labor will administer this program with states’ unemployment insurance programs. As this legislation is finalized, more updates will be provided.
Tax Credits for Sick Time and Family Leave
Does a REALTOR® need to itemize their deductions in order to qualify for the credits?
The tax credits are available whether the tax filer itemizes deductions or not. If the REALTOR® is self-employed, the tax credit will reduce his or her income or self-employment taxes and also the quarterly estimated tax payments.
What if I have a limited liability company (LLC) or an S corporation?
If an owner of an LLC has employees, they will have Social Security and withholding tax liabilities for the employer’s share to pay over to the IRS. The tax credits can be used to reduce these payments, thus saving the employer cash within days or weeks. If the LLC has no employees, the answer is the same as in the question immediately above. For owners of S corporations who are also employees, the tax credits can be used to reduce tax payments due to the IRS, as with LLCs.
A full explanation of the new law related to sick leave and tax credits can be found here.
If the lease is going to expire and the landlord gives a tenant a notice of nonrenewal, is that a separate issue and not covered under the eviction suspensions?
The act of giving a Notice of Landlord’s Intent Not to Renew (TXR 2217) to a tenant when his lease is about to expire is not an issue during COVID-19. An issue arises if the tenant refuses to vacate the property according to the notice. The Texas Supreme Court has suspended all proceedings and deadlines for residential evictions through April 30, 2020, with an exception for certain residential evictions involving an imminent threat of criminal activity or physical harm. The court has also prohibited writs of possession from being posted or executed through May 7, 2020. The landlord cannot remove the holdover tenant while eviction proceedings have been suspended unless there is an imminent threat of criminal activity or physical harm. After the eviction suspension ends, the tenant will still be responsible for fees not paid under the lease. Under the Texas REALTORS® lease, a holdover tenant will be responsible for three (3) times the monthly rent, calculated on a daily basis, and that amount will be immediately due and payable daily.
The eviction moratorium established by the CARES Act applies to nonpayment of rent or other charges. You can still give a tenant a Notice of Landlord’s Intent Not To Renew (TXR 2217) when the lease is about to end. After the Texas Supreme Court’s order suspending evictions ends, you can give a holdover tenant in a “covered property” under the CARES Act notice to vacate and begin the eviction process as long as you are not using the holdover status of the tenant as a substitute for eviction when the actual issue at hand is the nonpayment of fees.
Keep in mind, local orders may be more restrictive that both the CARES Act and the Texas Supreme Court’s order, so continue to monitor actions taken by cities and counties relating to evictions. – Information provided by Texas REALTORS® Legal Department