Keep up with our weekly COVID-19 Newsletters updates HERE
News & Updates
Congress Clears Coronavirus Relief Bill
The U.S. House passed legislation Thursday providing a fresh round of funding for coronavirus small-business relief programs championed by the National Association of REALTORS® and available to REALTORS® through the CARES Act. The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday.
President Trump is expected to sign the measure, which will clear the way for lending to resume as early as Friday under two Small Business Administration programs, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.
Under the agreement, the PPP will receive $310 billion in new cash, while the EIDL fund will receive an additional $60 billion. The bill sets aside $60 billion of the PPP funding for small and medium-sized community banks, which will provide extra help for self-employed individuals and small businesses that don’t have relationships with larger banks.
“The PPP and EIDL had tremendous demand. Although the rollout was rocky, this latest bill should provide enough funds for everyone who needs a loan to get it. REALTORS® still waiting should contact their lender again and keep trying,” says Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of advocacy for NAR. “We have a wealth of resources to help you through the process, including a new video just posted last night.”
The bill also includes $25 billion for coronavirus testing and $75 billion for hospitals.
**COVID-19 HEALTH MANDATE** Issued: April 22, 2020
By: Governor Mike Dunleavy
Commissioner Adam Crum, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer, State of Alaska
The State of Alaska is issuing its sixteenth health mandate, based on its authority under the Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration signed by Governor Mike Dunleavy on March 11, 2020. This Mandate will go into effect April 24, 2020. The State of Alaska reserves the right to amend the Mandate at any time.
To date, the State of Alaska has issued 15 mandates to protect the public health of all Alaskans. These mandates, which have been aimed at flattening the curve, have been beneficial in slowing the spread of the disease.
This Mandate seeks to balance the ongoing need to maintain diligent efforts to slow and disrupt the rate of infection with the corresponding critical need to resume economic activity in a reasonable and safe manner.
This Mandate is the first of a series that are intended to reopen Alaska responsibly. By issuing this Mandate, the Governor is establishing consistent mandates across the State in order to mitigate both the public health and the economic impacts of COVID-19 across Alaska.
This Mandate addresses and modifies a number of prior Mandates and Health Care Advisories, as appropriate, to implement Phase I of the “Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan.” If there is any discrepancy between this Mandate, including its attachments, and any other statements, mandates, advisories, or documents regarding the “Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan”, this Mandate and its attachments will govern. FAQs may be issued to bring additional clarity to this Mandate based on questions that may arise.
Health Mandate 016 – Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan – Phase I-A
Health Mandate 016 goes into effect at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020.
Reopening Alaska’s businesses is vital to the state’s economic well-being, and to the ability of Alaskans to provide for their families. At the same time, everyone shares in the obligation to keep Alaska safe and continue to combat the spread of COVID-19. As a result, businesses and employees must, to the extent reasonably feasible, continue to take reasonable care to protect their staff and operations during this pandemic. Meanwhile, all Alaskans have an obligation to help promote public health and fight this pandemic by continuing to follow public health guidance regarding sanitizing, handwashing, and use of face masks. Those that are at high risk of infection are encouraged to continue to self-quarantine, to the extent possible, and strictly follow social distancing mandates and advisories.
Unless explicitly modified by this Mandate as set forth below and in Attachments D through H, prior Mandates remain in effect unless and until they are amended, rescinded, or suspended by further order of the Governor. The Governor and the State of Alaska reserve the right to amend this Mandate at any time in order to protect the public health, welfare, and safety of the public and assure the state’s safe resumption of economic activity.
The activities and businesses listed below that were previously governed by the referenced Mandates may resume under the conditions and guidance provided in the following attachments.
Attachment D – Non-Essential Public Facing Businesses Generally – modifies Mandate 011
Attachment E – Retail Businesses – modifies Mandate 011
Attachment F – Restaurants Dine-In Services – modifies Mandate 03.1
Attachment G – Personal Care Services – modifies Mandate 09
Attachment H – Non-Essential Non-Public-Facing Businesses – modifies Mandate 011
PREEMPTION OF LOCAL MANDATES
The policies contained in this Health Mandate are most effective when implemented uniformly across the State. Conflicting local provisions will frustrate this Mandate’s health and economic objectives and, therefore, are irreconcilable with this Mandate’s purposes. Therefore, unless specifically authorized by this, or any another Mandate issued by the Governor, this Mandate, Attachment A (Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order), Attachment B (Alaska Small Community Emergency Travel Order), and Attachments D through G expressly and intentionally supersede and preempt any existing or future conflicting local, municipal, or tribal mandate, directive, resolution, ordinance, regulation, or other order.
Business operations and other activities permitted to operate under this mandate may not be prohibited by local, municipal, or tribal mandate, directive, resolution, ordinance, regulation, or other order.
Notwithstanding the above, businesses subject to this mandate that are located within the Municipality of Anchorage, must continue to operate under prior state and municipal mandates through 8 a.m. Monday April 27, 2020, at which time, this Mandate will control.
A violation of a State of Alaska COVID-19 Mandate may subject a business or organization to an order to cease operations and/or a civil fine of up to $1,000 per violation. In addition to the potential civil fines noted, a person or organization that fails to follow State COVID-19 Mandates designed to protect the public health from this dangerous virus and its impact may, under certain circumstances, also be criminally prosecuted for Reckless Endangerment pursuant to Alaska Statute 11.41.250. Reckless endangerment is defined as follows:
(a) A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.
(b) Reckless endangerment is a class A misdemeanor.
Pursuant to Alaska Statute 12.55.135, a defendant convicted of a class A misdemeanor may be sentenced to a definite term of imprisonment of not more than one year.
Additionally, under Alaska Statute 12.55.035, a person may be fined up to $25,000 for a class A misdemeanor, and a business organization may be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding the greatest of $2,500,000 for a misdemeanor offense that results in death, or $500,000 for a class A misdemeanor offense that does not result in death.
***This Mandate is in effect until rescinded or modified.***
Updated Bank Appraisal Information
Banks will soon be able to postpone some appraisals until 120 days after a mortgage closes
Citing the need to “extend financing to creditworthy households and businesses quickly in the wake of the national emergency declared in connection with COVID-19,” a trio of federal banking regulators announced Tuesday evening that banks will soon be able to delay getting an appraisal on a property for as many as 120 days after a mortgage closes.
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced the changes Tuesday, stating the rule change will be in effect until the end of this year.
Under the rule change, banks can postpone an appraisal on a residential or commercial property for 120 after the loan is closed.
It should be noted that the rule only applies to banks under the oversight of the Fed, FDIC and OCC.
More important, the rule change only applies to loans kept in banks’ portfolios.
Loans sold to or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac will still require an appraisal before closing, per each agency’s or company’s rules.
Meanwhile, each of those agencies has relaxed their appraisal rules in recent weeks to address social distancing protocols or stay-at-home orders in various states and cities.
In each case, the agencies moved to allow exterior-only appraisals (known as drive-by appraisals) or in some cases, desktop appraisals, where the appraiser doesn’t inspect the property or comparable sales. Instead, the appraiser relies on public records, multiple listing service information, and other third-party data sources to identify the property characteristics.
But the newly announced rules from the banking regulators go several steps beyond that, stating that appraisals may be pushed to 120 days after the mortgage closes.
The rule change is not official yet, however. The rule goes into effect when it is entered into the Federal Register.
When the rule change goes into effect, the rule will apply to “residential and commercial real estate secured transactions, including loans for new money or refinancing transactions.”
However, the rule excludes “transactions for acquisition, development, and construction of real estate.”
In the interim final rule, which can be read here, the regulators note how the current environment is impacting the ability of certain people to buy a home or refinance if they want to or need to.
“Due to the impact of COVID-19, businesses and individuals have a heightened need for additional liquidity,” the regulators state in the rule.
“Being able to quickly access equity in real estate could help address this need. However, government restrictions on non-essential movement and health and safety advisories in response to the National Emergency declared in connection with COVID-19,1 including those relating to social distancing, have led to complications with respect to performing and completing real property appraisals and evaluations needed to comply with federal appraisal regulations,” they continue. “As a result, some borrowers may experience delays in obtaining funds needed to meet immediate and near-term financial needs.”
But the agencies state that the ability to delay an appraisal does not absolve the lender of needing to conduct prudent lending practices.
“Regulated institutions that defer receipt of an appraisal or evaluation are still expected to conduct their lending activity consistent with the underwriting principles in the agencies’ Standards for Safety and Soundness and Real Estate Lending Standards that focus on the ability of a borrower to repay a loan and other relevant laws and regulations,” the regulators state. “These deferrals are not an exercise of the agencies’ waiver authority, because appraisals and evaluations are being deferred, not waived.”
The regulators continue:
Under the interim final rule, regulated institutions may close a real estate loan without a contemporaneous appraisal or evaluation, subject to a requirement that institutions obtain the appraisal or evaluation, as would have been required under the appraisal regulations without the deferral, within a grace period of 120 days after closing of the transaction. While appraisals and evaluations can be deferred, the agencies expect institutions to use best efforts and available information to develop a well-informed estimate of the collateral value of the subject property.
For purposes of risk-weighting of residential mortgage exposures, an institution’s prudent underwriting estimation of the collateral value of the subject property will be considered to meet the agencies’ appraisal and evaluation requirements during the deferral period. In addition, the agencies continue to expect regulated institutions to adhere to internal underwriting standards for assessing borrowers’ creditworthiness and repayment capacity, and to develop procedures for estimating the collateral’s value for the purposes of extending or refinancing credit.
The agencies also note the potential for the value of the property in question to drop during the 120-day delay, and state that banks must be prepared for that scenario.
“The agencies also expect institutions to develop an appropriate risk mitigation strategy if the appraisal or evaluation ultimately reveals a market value significantly lower than the expected market value,” the agencies state. “An institution’s risk mitigation strategy should consider safety and soundness risk to the institution, balanced with mitigation of financial harm to COVID-19-affected borrowers.”
As stated earlier, the delayed appraisal option does not apply to “transactions for acquisition, development, and construction of real estate.” In the rule, the regulators state that those loans “present heightened risks not associated with financing existing real estate.”
Beyond that, the regulators also state that “repayment of those transactions is generally dependent on the completion or sale of the property being held as collateral as opposed to repayment generated by existing collateral or the borrower.”
Typically, a rule change like this would require a comment period after the rule’s initial proposal, followed by a 30-day delayed effective date to ensure all affected parties have time to prepare.
But in this case, the regulators state that they are bypassing those procedures in order to enact this rule as quickly as possible.
“The agencies believe that the public interest is best served by implementing the interim final rule as soon as possible. As discussed above, recent events have suddenly and significantly affected global economic activity, increasing businesses’ and households’ need to have timely access to liquidity from real estate equity,” the agencies state.
“In addition, the spread of COVID-19 has greatly increased the difficulty of performing real estate appraisals and evaluations in a timely manner,” the agencies continue. “This relief will allow regulated institutions to better focus on supporting lending to creditworthy households and businesses in light of recent strains on the U.S. economy as a result of COVID19, while reaffirming the safety and soundness principle that valuation of collateral is an essential part of the lending decision. For these reasons, the agencies find that there is good cause consistent with the public interest to issue the rule without advance notice and comment.”
The regulators conclude the interim final rule by stating that they believe the change will help ensure credit goes to deserving borrowers and protect all involved.
“The agencies believe that the limited timeframe for the deferral will in some respects help to manage potential risk by balancing the need for immediate relief due to the National Emergency with safety and soundness concerns for risk to lenders,” the agencies state.
The agencies also note that the National Credit Union Association will consider a similar rule later this week that would apply the same standards to credit unions.
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.
1031 Like-kind exchanges. If an investor has taken the first step of a like-kind exchange by selling the old property, and either the 45-day or the 180-day deadline falls between April 1 and July 15, the deadline has been extended to July 15.
Opportunity Zones. If an investor who sold a capital asset planned to roll over the gain into an Opportunity Fund and the 180-day deadline to do so falls between April 1 and July 15, 2020, he or she can make the investment as late as July 15.
Also, sole proprietors who pay quarterly estimated taxes now have until July 15 to file their second quarter payment. As a result of an earlier IRS notice, first quarter estimated tax payments had already been extended to July 15. This means that any individual or corporation that has a quarterly estimated tax payment due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, can wait until July 15 to make that payment, without penalty.
NAR has advocated heavily for these extensions since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll have a full analysis of this announcement Friday on our dedicated coronavirus page.
NAR Updates 4-7-20
We have three important items we would like to share with our communications directors.
- Reminder: Join in to be a part of NAR’s Leadership Live event tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. eastern.
- Participate in Bi-weekly Communication Director Meetings at 3:30 on Friday, April 10.
- Share your stories of local REALTORS® being a good neighbor through volunteerism or philanthropic work during this pandemic.
Leadership Live: Real-time. Real experts. Real answers
Reminder: Tomorrow April 8, 2020, at 1:00 pm ET
Find out how the National Association of REALTORS® advances issues that are most important to members through legislative action and timely, free-to-member resources.
During this week’s Leadership, Live event members will have the opportunity to connect with NAR leadership and industry experts to learn how to utilize the CARES Act and stimulus package to leverage financial benefits for themselves and their agents.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that we provide members one-on-one access to the real estate industry and advocacy experts, who can:
- break down the CARES Act and stimulus package to help independent contractors and small business owners leverage benefits and resources that you may be entitled to;
- share details about NAR’s relaunched Right Tools, Right Now initiative and how to take advantage of free-to-members products and services and applicable benefits that can make a difference in your business today;
- and provide exciting updates on the upcoming REALTORS® Legislative Meetings Virtual Event, taking place May 12-14.
We are here to support you during this unprecedented time in our history. Stay connected to NAR’s many efforts in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and don’t miss this opportunity to get your most pressing questions answered in this live forum.
Join us and Register Here
Bi-weekly Communication Director Meetings
We invite Communication Directors to participate in a bi-weekly meeting to share the latest NAR updates and provide the opportunity for Communication Directors to ask questions and share their experiences. This is particularly important during these unprecedented times while we live with the impact of COVID19.,
The first meeting we be held at 3:30 p.m., Friday, April 10. Our agenda will include:
- Welcome introduction to panelist – Dan Eckels, NAR CD Chair, Nevada Realtors, Communications Specialist.
- Update on July CDI event – Dan
- NAR Update – Mantill Williams, NAR VP of Communications
- Economic and Research Media Update – Troy Green, NAR Director of Media Communications
- Advocacy Communications Update – Patrick Newton, NAR Director of Advocacy Communications
- Questions, comments and suggestions from Communication Directors
Share your stories of local REALTORS® being a good neighbor through volunteerism or philanthropic work during this pandemic.
As news media and social media are monopolized by stories about COVID-19, there are opportunities to highlight the philanthropic and service efforts by REALTORS® to help our local communities in these trying times.
For example, some reporters are looking for stories about how community leaders are helping others cope and deal with COVID-19. Others are seeking goodwill stories that show human kindness at its best even during a pandemic, to serve as a source of hope among all the alarming COVID-19 coverage.
Please share your stories, we may be able to share them as we reach out to national and local media. In addition, we may share them on NAR online properties.
Thank you and we look forward to staying in touch.
NAR Offers Members TeleHealthSM to Realtors® at No Cost in Response to COVID-19 Crisis
Group will fund two months of telemedicine for members who lack access to service
CHICAGO (April 2, 2020) – The National Association of Realtors® announced Thursday that it will be expanding access to Members TeleHealthSM at no cost to its members for those who register before April 15. The program comes as part of NAR’s larger ‘Right Tools, Right Now’ initiative – relaunched on March 27 – which is making numerous valuable resources available to the association’s 1.4 million members at reduced or no cost.
“While the nation continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis, we are doing everything we can to ensure our members and their families can stay safe, healthy and secure,” said NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. “After launching ‘Right Tools, Right Now’ last week, we promised to closely monitor the effects of this pandemic and update the initiative as needed. I’m pleased to announce today the addition of Members TeleHealthSM, a long-term REALTOR Benefits® partner offering, to the RTRN toolkit.”
Members TeleHealthSM provides around-the-clock access to non-emergency healthcare from more than 2,300 board-certified U.S. physicians. Common issues addressed through telemedicine include allergies, asthma, rashes, joint aches, flu and nausea, among others.
Beginning today, NAR is funding two months of services for members who currently lack access to telemedicine and enroll in this program by April 15. Recognizing that the opportunity will likely draw significant interest from its members, NAR has also negotiated a discounted rate for those who wish to retain coverage following the two month, no-cost period.
“As we continue to solicit input from our members regarding COVID-19’s impact on their lives and businesses, NAR is grateful to be able to offer expanded access to potentially lifesaving telemedicine services,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA. “Medical professionals are urging Americans who are sick to stay home, and telemedicine is playing a critical role protecting our communities and our health care workers. We continue to encourage members to limit their exposure and decrease the chance of spreading illnesses to others.”
Through RTRN, which was initially launched during the financial crisis in 2009, Realtors® can also access webinars with tips for managing finances in uncertain times; educational resources to build or hone professional skills; and a free copy of the widely-used Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, among other business-critical resources.
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
NAR Wins Major Provisions for REALTORS®
The U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package Wednesday night with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The bill now goes to the U.S. House, where it is expected to pass, and President Trump has said he will sign it into law.
The measure includes $350 billion for the Small Business Administration 7(a) loan program. Under the terms, eligible businesses (500 employees or fewer) can get up to $10 million toward mortgage interest, rents, utilities, and payroll costs. A portion of these loans will be forgivable.
“We worked with the drafters of this legislation to ensure that independent contractors and those living on a commission-based income will be eligible for the loans as well as the forgiveness provision,” said Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of government affairs for NAR.
The self-employed and independent contractors are also included in a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance that could provide benefits for up to 39 weeks. These workers are not usually covered under traditional state unemployment benefit programs.
In addition, the bill contains:
- A delay in payment of employer payroll taxes, with half due by the end of 2021 and the other half due by the end of 2022;
- $500 billion to support large businesses like airlines affected by the virus
- A one-time payment of $1,200 to most adult Americans and $500 per child
“This is the largest financial rescue package in our nation’s history,” McGahn continued. “Combined with two other relief packages that have already been signed into law and a likely fourth bill in the near future, this action represents a seismic and definitive action to help Americans and the economy through this national emergency.”
“We have worked closely with Congressional leaders and the administration during the past several weeks to ensure all three bills bring relief to the self-employed, independent contractors, and small businesses,” McGahn said. “The real estate industry is responsible for millions of jobs and is key to our national recovery.”
NAR will provide a complete analysis of the bill and how it affects REALTORS®. Watch for regular updates on nar.realtor.
NAR Right Tools, Right Now Program
The COVID-19 health crisis is a challenge, unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetime. NAR is taking steps to support you now. Today, we’re launching Right Tools, Right Now, a program first activated in 2009 in the midst of the financial crisis.
Through Right Tools, Right Now, we’re making new and existing NAR products and services available for FREE or at significant discounts to REALTORS® and REALTOR® associations. The program includes products, resources, and services from all areas of NAR, including:
Webinars to help members manage their finances;
Education courses to expand their skills;
And timely market reports informing their business and clients.
If you need help finding any resources, or have questions related to COVID-19 and real estate, NAR’s Member Support Team is ready to help. You can call our new hotline, 1-800-874-6500, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday–Friday.
Right Tools, Right Now is one of many ways NAR is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also having a huge impact in the advocacy arena, working with Congress to ensure relief for our industry during this unprecedented time.
Our national leaders have called the COVID crisis a war against an invisible enemy. I can’t thank you enough for your frontline leadership. Together, we will ensure that, when the battle is won, real estate comes back stronger than ever.
Freddie Mac Selling Guidance
On March 23, 2020, Freddie Mac issued Bulletin 2020-5, Selling Guidance Related to COVID-19, which contains temporary guidance on appraisal requirements. Under the guidance, lenders will be allowed to use desktop appraisal and exterior only appraisals for purchase transactions through May 17, 2020. Freddie Mac has also provided language that the appraiser must copy and paste into their report in order to accommodate the revised scope of work, statement of assumptions and limiting conditions, and certifications for some of the scenarios presented.
What REALTORS® Need to Know
Congress is speeding toward the passage of emergency coronavirus legislation. The bill passed by a wide margin early Saturday in the House and is headed to the Senate next week, where it is expected to pass easily. You can find a summary prepared by NAR staff here.
Last week, NAR’s advocacy team urged Congressional leaders to include support for self-employed professionals and other small business owners in this bill. We are pleased robust measures targeting these groups were included.
We expect few if any changes to the bill in the Senate, so here is where the measure stands now:
Family Medical Leave Expansion…
Allows up to 12 weeks of certain virus-related family medical leave through the end of 2020
Covers employees at businesses with between 50-500 employees
Provides a refundable tax credit for eligible self-employed individuals equal to their qualified family leave equivalent
Provides employers with a refundable tax credit equal to certain family leave wages paid to employees
Paid Sick Leave Expansion…
Allows two weeks of certain virus-related paid sick leave through the end of 2020.
Covers employees at businesses with fewer than 500 employees
Provides a refundable tax credit for eligible self-employed individuals equal to their qualified sick leave equivalent
Provides employers with a refundable tax credit equal to certain paid sick leave wages paid to employees
Medicare, Medicaid, Health Insurance and Unemployment Changes…
Requires insurers, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs to fully cover testing and related services for COVID-19, without cost-sharing
Increases funding to Medicaid to help cover uninsured populations
Provides additional funds for certain programs aiding elderly Americans
Increases funding for emergency transfers to state unemployment programs and increased flexibility for states to modify unemployment policies based on effects of COVID-19, such as waived work search requirements.
About the Tax Credits
Refundable tax credits are considered especially generous since any amount above taxes due is paid in the form of a refund. The payroll tax credit provided to employers will provide cash to them relatively quickly as it is creditable against their portion of an employee’s Social Security tax liability, which is generally due monthly or semi-weekly. And since most self-employed persons are required to pay quarterly estimated tax payments, they will not have to wait until the end of the tax year to see the cash.
A Final Note
Many of the tax credits and benefits mentioned above have limits and/or qualifications, so we encourage you to explore NAR’s comprehensive briefing document for more details.
This bill mainly addresses employment issues–NAR’s advocacy team expects legislation targeting the overall economy to come later.
Small business owners and the self-employed are crucial to the growth and stability of the national economy and also face disproportionate burdens if they are forced to shut down, temporarily lose employees, or see their customer base drop.
They deserve equal access to emergency funding and programs, and we will continue to engage with Congress as this public health emergency unfolds.