The Latest Information on Coronavirus for Realtors in Florida
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NEW! The COVID-19 relief bill signed into law in late December 2020 extends the rental eviction ban to Jan. 31, 2021, and provides unemployment benefits for independent contractors. Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors are still sorting through provisions of the $2.3 trillion relief package. Here’s what we know so far. Read more
NEW! FHA Extends Foreclosure And Eviction Relief For Homeowners. Single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages have an additional two months of protection—until February 28, 2021. The moratorium prohibits servicers from initiating or proceeding with foreclosure and foreclosure-related eviction actions. Read more
Fed releases simplified forgiveness application for certain PPP loans. On October 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury Department released a new, simplified forgiveness application for PPP borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less. The new application - Form 3508S - is one-and-half pages long and requires the borrower to certify that the amount they are seeking forgiveness for was spent in accordance with the PPP requirements. Learn more here.
SBA will again start to forgive PPP loans: Payroll Protection Program (PPP) borrowers who submitted a request for loan forgiveness have been waiting for an answer after approvals seemed to shut down, perhaps due to a computer software glitch. But SBA says approvals should now come fairly quickly. Find out more here.
- In-person showing safety guidelines: Florida Realtors has issued updated safety guidelines for Realtors, including a printable poster to use during Open Houses.
Click the sections below to expand for more information.
- Transactions & keeping your business going
- FORM: COVID-19 extension addendum to contract: Florida Realtors released a new contract extension addendum that allows for time periods and dates to be extended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- FORM: COVID-19 and contract performance: The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly unprecedented, but is it considered, legally speaking, an "act of God"? Here's a look at how a court may rule on real estate disputes that arise from transactions during this time. The white paper can also be downloaded as a PDF here.
- FORM: COVID-19 in-person access acknowledgment form: In an effort to be responsive to the members' demands for a form addressing the risk of entering properties, Florida Realtors has released the new COVID-19/Coronavirus In-Person Access Acknowledgement on Form Simplicity. We have prepared these frequently asked questions to guide you in its usage.
- COVID-19 Legal Hotline FAQs: Florida Realtors attorneys share answers to the top coronavirus questions they are fielding from Realtors across the state. Read them here.
- Office reopening guide for brokers: Florida Realtors has prepared a guide so when real estate brokers ready to open their offices to employees and customers can do so safely.
- Free Form Simplicity upgrade: All Florida Realtors members not already subscribed to Form Simplicity’s Ultimate Edition will be upgraded at no cost. This update includes unlimited Sign. Florida Realtors will also provide a discount to members whose individual Ultimate Edition renewals will take place through June 30, 2020. Learn more about this member benefit here.
- Remote notaries: On Jan. 1, authorization for remote notarizations became law, meaning buyers and sellers no longer have to be in the same room. Here’s what you need to know.
- Open houses: All Realtors are encouraged to follow NAR’s guidance regarding Open Houses found here.
- CDC business safety strategies: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance for businesses and employers here.
- NAR guides for Realtors and Realtor Associations: The National Association of Realtors has posted a guide for Realtors in relation to COVID-19 and a guide for Realtor Associations in relation to COVID-19.
- Travel guidance: Here is specific information from the CDC regarding travel.
- Financial assistance, loans & federal relief
- Congress approves widened PPP loan terms: Beginning June 4, borrowers have 24 weeks, rather than eight weeks, to disburse their loan funds. Read about other changes to loan forgiveness signed into law in early June.
- PPP loans: NAR's coronavirus resource page has extensive information on PPP loans, including this video about the loan extension and this one that details how PPP recipients may be eligible for, and apply for, loan forgiveness if certain criteria are met. Frequently asked questions regarding PPP are answered here by the Small Business Administration.
- Unemployment benefits: The CARES Act enables independent contractors to receive federal unemployment benefits by applying through the Florida unemployment system. Here is a look at what we know about how Realtors are affected, including who qualifies. Also, applicants may find applying on the state's mobile unemployment site more efficient. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity provides daily updates of its Reemployment Assistance program in response to COVID-19. This includes a new dashboard that reports the total number of Reemployment Assistance claims submitted, verified, processed and paid.
- Step-by-step guide to applying for unemployment: On April 28, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity published a step-by-step guide — with screenshots of the online portal — to help independent contractors and self-employed individuals apply for federal unemployment benefits. Learn more here.
- Florida bridge loans: As of April 14, the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program exhausted its $50 million in funding. You can check the status of your application here. (Select "Check Application Status" under Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan to sign-in to your account.)
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): These loans are intended for fixed expenses (rent, mortgage, etc.), payroll, utilities and vendor bills. Loan amounts max out at $2 million with a 30-year term. A $10,000 “advance” may be available in 3 days. Click here for important information and advice — specific to Realtors — to get you started. To apply, click here.
- Federal family and sick leave changes: Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201. Here are the major provisions affecting Realtors, brokers and real estate associations/boards.
- Federal loan eligibility: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also put together this useful Small Business Guide and Checklist that can help Realtors determine if they are eligible for the loans and what to do to prepare.
- Florida suspends doc stamp taxes on SBA loans: Businesses receiving SBA loans under the CARES Act will not pay doc stamp taxes on the loan according to an Executive Order effective April 3. Florida levies a doc stamp tax on any certificate of indebtedness or promissory note in the amount of 35 cents per $100 in value.
- IRS extends tax deadlines: The IRS issued guidance Thursday evening to grant deadline relief for both 1031 like-kind exchanges and opportunity zone investments that are already underway. Both of these programs are designed to promote economic growth in communities, and NAR made the case that investors in these programs should not be harmed due to the effects of COVID-19. Details are available here.
- Information for property managers, HOAs & condo associations
- HOAs and condos: Here is a look at frequently asked questions surrounding COVID-19.
- Federal eviction moratorium extended: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will extend moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until at least Dec. 31, 2020. Get details here.
- Governor narrows Florida eviction ban, extends to Oct. 1. This latest Executive Order makes it clear that the ban applies only to the “final action” and not for reasons other than a COVID-19 emergency. Read more.
- Legal Update: Rental evictions: On May 4, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court ordered that landlords may not use Florida Statutes to evict a residential tenant who fails to pay rent. Though subject to debate, there appears to be no expiration date on the order suspending the issuance of writs of possession. More info about evictions is here.
- Vacation rentals have reopened in most counties. Find out more, including details about safety precautions for owners, here.
- Informational videos
- UPDATE: How to Be a Responsible Realtor During Coronavirus
- SBA Loan Advice for Florida Realtors During Coronavirus
- Webinar: How to Get Access to Federal COVID-19 Relief
- Florida Realtors White Paper Video: Coronavirus & 'Force Majeure'
- COVID-19 Addendum to Contract (March 20, 2020)
- Florida Realtors Legal Update on the Coronavirus (March 17, 2020)
- Real estate licensing
- License renewal: The March 31, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2020, renewal deadlines have been extended to Dec. 31, 2020. No late fee will be assessed on an eligible license renewal during this period. More information here.
- FREC approves live streaming of CE courses: By emergency rule, FREC approved video conferencing of in-person courses so Realtors may fulfill biennial license requirements, including post- and pre-licensure ones.
- Other online courses: If you need CE classes, please take a look at Florida Realtors’ online class options here.
- Shareable infographics
- How to Be a Responsible Realtor During Coronavirus
- Printable Poster: Property Showing Safety Rules
- 9 Tips for Facebook Live Virtual Open Houses
- 7 Pro Tips for Mastering Your Next (or First!) Zoom Meeting
- 5 FREE Ways to Meet Remotely with Your Teams
- COVID-19 & Fair Housing: Realtor Dos and Don'ts
- What to Expect During a Remote Closing
- Information for homeowners and tenants
- Governor extends ban on evictions. Hours before the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was set to expire, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a new executive order that extends the current ban to Aug. 31. Read more.
- Mortgage payment deferral option: The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are making available a new payment deferral option that allows borrowers, who are able to return to making their normal monthly mortgage payment, the ability to repay their missed payments at the time the home is sold, refinanced, or at maturity. Learn more here.
- Federal housing problem assistance: Homeowners and renters can now visit a single federal website to find federal programs that can help with COVID-19-related housing problems. The site includes info for homeowners that have a mortgage backed by FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Click here to find out more.
- Florida Realtors updates
- All in-person meetings held at the state association's Orlando headquarters and the Tallahassee office are canceled until further notice.
- Please check with your local association on whether Florida Realtors' professional development classes will still be held at their location.
- Local actions
- The Florida Institute for County Government offers this convenient dashboard to locate various local actions related to coronavirus.
- Health: state & CDC guidelines
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic turmoil and new challenges. As the industry faced these unprecedented times, you adapted and adjusted to continue your business of listing and selling real estate.
The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly unprecedented, but is it considered, legally speaking, an "act of God"? Here, Juana Watkins, Florida Realtors Vice President of Law and Policy & General Counsel, takes a look at how a court may rule on real estate disputes that arise from transactions during this time.
Does COVID-19 qualify as a disability under the Fair Housing Act? Can agents ask customers about their health? Some answers aren’t clear and may require a court to decide, so make few assumptions – but it’s important to treat each buyer or seller in exactly the same way.