OAR COVID-19 Updates

As we are in the midst of changing actions by the Federal, State, and local governments with their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic; OAR is sharing the following information to help you and your clients navigate the impacts on the real estate industry. OAR will continue to provide relevant updates over the next several weeks.


How to Operate in Compliance with OSHA Requirements

OAR members should be aware that Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends to do its part to enforce Governor Brown’s coronavirus-related executive orders. On Friday, March 27, Oregon OSHA released a Questions and Answers Document designed to inform employers and workers about OSHA’s legal interpretation and understanding of their role in administering the orders. It appears the agency intends to take seriously any complaints it receives about employers lacking clear social distancing policies and seems ready to investigate complaints concerning employer inflexibility to facilitate employees working from home whenever possible. REALTOR® offices and REALTORS® are encouraged, as appropriate, to work closely with their legal counsels to ensure they operate in compliance with these requirements.

What OAR Members Need to Know:

  • As of March 25, Section 9 of the State Home, Save Lives Executive Order No. 20-12 prohibits businesses and nonprofits from work in offices whenever telework or work-at-home options are available, in light of position duties, availability of teleworking equipment, and network adequacy.
  • Employers are required to designate an individual employee to establish, implement, and enforce social distancing policies.
  • If an employee is alleging worker exposure as a result of the failure to provide for teleworking, OSHA may investigate that business.
  • The evaluation of whether a business or nonprofit is in violation will be a fact-specific and complex determination. As long as an employer has implemented a social distancing policy and is able to demonstrate they have made a reasonable effort to determine whether telework options are available, they are unlikely to be able to be cited for a violation of the executive order.

April 3, 2020 – Small Business Act (SBA) & Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) program launched

Title I of the federal CARES Act contains the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a new $366 billion SBA lending program intended to alleviate disruption to small businesses caused by the coronavirus. $349 billion is marked for direct lending to small businesses. The PPP is modeled on the existing Small Business Act 7(a) program, but loans through the PPP are given a 100% government guarantee, an increase from the current 75% under the 7(a) loan program, and may be forgiven if used to maintain payroll and related expenses. The program will apply to small business, nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, and a myriad of qualifying individuals. Small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for the Payment Protection Program beginning April 3rd and independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning April 10th. The application is here and U.S. Treasury guidance for prospective borrowers is available here. The measure includes a provision for loan forgiveness for businesses that retain their workers or rehire ones that were laid off. Businesses that meet the payroll requirements would be eligible for forgiveness on the portion of the loan used for costs including payroll, rent, mortgage obligations, and utilities.


April 3, 2020 – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

On Thursday, the National Association of REALTORS® updated their FAQ page for members with questions about newly expanded pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) benefits. Benefits must be applied for at the state level, and with the Oregon Employment Department is still awaiting official guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, members interested in applying for or discussing PUA benefits with the Oregon Employment Department are encouraged to visit their website or contact their local WorkSource Oregon center. While application guidance specific to independent contractors and sole proprietors is not yet available, OAR will continue to monitor the Department for updates and keep members informed.

NAR FAQ on Unemployment


March 28, 2020 – Washington State approves real estate activities along with mortgage lending activities as essential activities

Today, Washington State approved  real estate and mortgage lending as essential business activities. Now it is permissible to engage in real estate sales, as appraisers, settlement agents and escrow officers, property inspectors, mortgage loan originators, processors, and underwriters, and other necessary office personnel including IT professionals, and back office staff necessary to maintain office operations, along with those government workers necessary to review real estate excise tax and record documents. There are still some guidelines to follow, please see documents below for details.

StayHomeStayHealthy_March28thFAQ

Essential Business Guidance – Real Estate Memo


NAR HUB

Be sure to visit the NAR coronavirus Hub for updates and explanations of legislation. NAR has great guides for Realtors®, associations, and employers.
Featured Guides:

Oregon REALTOR® Guide to COVID-19 Financial Relief for Individuals and Businesses

The U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package Wednesday night, which includes coverage for
independent contractors and those living on a commission-based income. The bill now heads to the House for a vote. Under the bill, Realtors® and brokerages may be eligible for no interest or forgivable loans and unemployment insurance that could provide benefits for up to 39 weeks.

Read a full summary of COVID-19 Financial Relief for Individuals and Businesses. This guide will review what will be available from the recently passed bill as well as previous federal and state efforts.

 


March 26, 2020 Oregon Should Allow Remote Online Notarization

By allowing Remote Online Notarization, Oregon can keep a critical part of the real estate purchase and refinancing infrastructure functioning while also promoting the goals of social distancing and ensuring compliance with Governor Browns “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order.

Remote Online Notarization (RON) allows the consumer and notary to be in different locations using two-way audiovisual communication, multifactor identification proofing and secure document transmission to securely execute electronic documents.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, twenty-three states allowed RON.  Since then, several additional states have enacted RON through legislation, executive orders, or accelerating implementation of laws already passed but not yet in effect.  Oregon is now in a minority of states that does not allow some form of RON at least on a temporary basis.

Last week OAR sent a letter to Secretary of State Bev Clarno Remote Online Notarization Letter arguing that under current law Oregon should be accepting RONs conducted by notarial officers of other states that allow them.  We are also looking into the possibility of legislation to authorize RONs during Oregon’s emergency legislative session, likely to take place next week.

We have been in communication with state officials all of whom believe this is an important issue and are working to develop a solution that allows for some form of remote notarization in Oregon during this crisis.  We will keep you posted on updates.


What You Should Know About Moratoriums on Evictions & Foreclosures

The bill institutes a moratorium on foreclosures for all federally-backed mortgages, including those covered by HUD, USDA, FHA, VA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for 60 days beginning on March 18, 2020. Under the bill, a borrower with a federally-backed mortgage experiencing a financial hardship due to coronavirus may also request a forbearance for up to 180 days, which may be extended for another 180 days at the request of the borrower.

The law allows multifamily housing owners with a federally-backed mortgage to request a forbearance for up to 30 days, which can be extended by another 60 days at the request of the borrower, on the condition that they agree not to evict tenants or charge tenants’ late fees.

The bill also institutes a moratorium on filings for evictions for renters in homes covered by a federally-backed mortgage for 120 days of enactment.

The bill provides a temporary moratorium on evictions for most residents of federally subsidized apartments, including those supported by HUD, USDA or Treasury (Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments).


March 24, 2020 – Buyer & Seller Advisory COVID-19 Updates

The Oregon Association of REALTORS® has created the following Buyer and Seller Advisories with tips for buyers and sellers navigating home selling and purchasing during the COVID-19 crisis.  Make your clients aware of these tools.  In addition to the COVID-19 information, they provide your clients with comprehensive information about the home buying and selling process.

OAR Buyer Advisory _COVID-19 Update

OAR Seller Advisory_COVID-19 Updates

View the full OAR Buyer/Seller Advisory


March 23, 2020

Today Governor Brown issued her ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ order. The order lays out significant restrictions on individual and business activity in Oregon. The order does not shut down real estate offices or activity at large, but it does include specific guidance for businesses that remain open.

In an effort to help OAR members navigate during this pandemic, we have put together some guidance on the following items:

Office guidelines

Working with clients

Open houses

Service providers

Alternative marketing

COVID-19 addendum

These tips are meant to be helpful to OAR members trying to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus and comply with the Governor’s Executive Order. They do not represent official guidance from the government and they may not be comprehensive.

OAR Tips for Operating During COVID-19 Crisis


March 23, 2020

Governor Kate Brown Tightens Social Distancing Measures, Tells Oregonians to “Stay Home, Save Lives”

Governor Kate Brown today issued Executive Order 20-12, directing everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible and adding to the list of businesses that will be temporarily closed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. The order is effective immediately, and remains in effect until ended by the Governor.

The Governor’s Order Does Not Close Real Estate Businesses But Does Implement Social Distancing Requirements

The safety and health of not only our members but all Oregonians is our first priority. OAR continues to support the real estate industry and is joining NAR and many other states by advocating for the opportunity for real estate transactions to continue within the parameters of all CDC recommendations. If social distancing requirements and additional sanitizing criteria cannot be met, the activities cannot be conducted.

Effective March 25, 2020 All Businesses MUST:

Facilitate telework and work-at-home by employees, to the maximum extent possible. Work in offices is prohibited when telework and work-at-home options are available for the particular position duty and subject to the availability of teleworking equipment and network adequacy.

Where teleworking and work-at-home options are not available, businesses must designate an employee or officer to establish, implement and enforce social distancing policies, consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority.  Such policies must also address how the business will maintain social distancing protocols for business-critical visitors.

Businesses that do not comply with these provisions will be closed until they demonstrate compliance.

Closures & Restrictions

The order does close certain businesses (effective March 24 at 12:01am) including: 

Shopping: Outdoor and indoor malls and retail complexes, although individual types of businesses not subject to the measures may stay open.

Fitness: Gyms, sports and fitness centers, health clubs, and exercise studios

Grooming: Barbershops, beauty and nail salons, and non-medical wellness spas

Entertainment: Theaters, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys, and pool halls

The order also establishes additional restrictions on individual gatherings: 

All non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals are prohibited immediately, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained. Gatherings of members of the same residential household are permitted.

Failure to comply with the individual restrictions will be considered an immediate danger to public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor

The order also closes state government office buildings to the public, to the extent possible. Services will be provided by phone and, when only possible in person, strict social distancing guidelines will be implemented. The order lays out additional restrictions and guidelines for child care facilities and outdoor recreation facilities.

Read the press release
Read the Executive Order
Get the latest news and information on COVID-19 from the Governor’s Office

March 23, 2020

FHFA Directs Enterprises to Grant Flexibilities for Appraisal and Employment Verifications

Today, to facilitate liquidity in the mortgage market during the coronavirus national emergency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to provide alternative flexibilities to satisfy appraisal requirements and employment verification requirements through May 17, 2020.​ Read More


March 23, 2020

Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to Oregon Small Businesses Dealing with Fallout of COVID-19

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal economic injury disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  All of Oregon is considered a disaster area so businesses anywhere in Oregon can apply.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.

SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response.  We will keep you posted on additional developments.

Click here for more on the Economic Injury Disaster Loans and how to apply (the list of designated states on the website is outdated. Oregon is a designated state)

Click here for more comprehensive information on resources available from the Small Business Administration during this crisis.


March 22, 2020

Last week OAR submitted a letter to Governor Brown, Real Estate as Essential Service_19MAR20, urging her to exempt real estate services from any orders issued in Oregon. We know the prospect of a shelter in place order has caused tremendous anxiety within the industry and have followed up our letter with multiple conversations with Governor Brown’s administration and local elected officials.

OAR, together with our partners in the business community, are working together to submit recommendations to state lawmakers considering policies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are continuing to develop additional recommendations for lawmakers to consider as they meet in a special session sometime in the next few weeks.


March 22, 2020

Governor Brown announced a statewide residential eviction ban for 90 days. She says she is looking for opportunities to assist borrowers if they will need financial help during this moratorium.  Read more here. 


March 20, 2020

OREF Has New COVID-19 Extension Addendum 

The COVID-19 virus and response are causing unprecedented changes in our day to day behavior, including all of the potential parties in a real estate transaction.  OAR worked with OREF to develop an addendum which provides for an automatic extension of the transaction deadlines if parties are unable to meet their obligations because of COVID-19.  If you are an OREF Subscriber the form should be available by the afternoon of March 20 or the morning of March 21 in your forms library through the zipLogix, Dotloop, or Redfin platforms.  If not, here is a sample version, OREF 096 – COVID Addendum Secured.  You may want to consider similar language.

There will be situations or parties which are not going to be addressed by this agreement.  In those instances it will be incumbent on each of you to exercise your professionalism and expertise to address the needs of your individual clients.  Parties can always use a standard addendum to modify the terms of the Purchase and Sale Agreement, as needed.  We encourage you to seek legal advice when appropriate.

 

Legal Hotline Can Provide Guidance on Transaction Issues that Arise as a Result of COVID-19

If you are a Legal Hotline subscriber and COVID-19 related issues are coming up in your transactions, reach out to the Hotline to get up to date risk-management advice.  We have attorneys available 5 days per week via phone and email.  The hotline takes calls from 9 until noon Monday through Friday, and you can email at any time.  A hotline attorney will respond with in 24 hours. Contact the Legal Hotline

The OAR Legal Hotline does not give legal advice and users acknowledge that no attorney/client relationship is intended or desired.  If there is a legal dispute, we recommend you suggest that the parties retain legal counsel.  Be sure to inform your client that you are not an attorney and do not purport to provide legal advice.  Any information provided is intended for general guidance and information.  The user is responsible for verifying all information for accuracy and completeness before taking any action on the basis of the information. The recipient may not convey or imply to others any information obtained through this service in such a manner so as to be construed that the recipient or OAR is rendering legal advice.


March 19, 2020

The Senate passed emergency legislation to provide support to workers and families during the coronavirus pandemic.

Summary: Impact of H.R. 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” on NAR Members:

https://narfocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/35/3578.pdf

Corona Virus Emergency Legislation One Pager:

https://narfocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/35/3577.pdf

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced today it will suspend foreclosures and evictions on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA-insured mortgages until April 30. Follow all of HUD’s updates at hud.gov/coronavirus.


OAR COVID-19 GUIDE & FAQ’S