COVID-19 Impact on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket Real Estate
March 16, 2020 Industry News, COVID-19
Below is important information for REALTORS® related to COVID-19 virus, commonly referred to as coronavirus. This information is to help REALTORS® respond to the coronavirus's impact on the real estate industry.
An Update from CCIAOR CEO Ryan Castle on March 21
NAR has released continually updated guidance about conducting real estate in the time of the coronavirus. This includes how to properly ask if any of your clients have been exposed to the coronavirus, precautions to take in your listings, in your offices and more.
This resource is automatically updated as NAR releases new information, so please consider bookmarking this page.
Update as of 3/16/2020 at 9:33 am
The Registry of Deeds is presently open for RECORDINGS ONLY. NO CLOSINGS , RESEARCH or COPY SERVICES.
In an effort to minimize potential spread between registry staff and members of the general public, customers of the registry must opt for the following:
- For documents or instruments that are not time sensitive, please submit via US Postal Service to PO Box 368, Barnstable, MA 02630. Items sent in this fashion will be recorded/reviewed in the order that they are received. Please make sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope along with your filing.
a. Items may also be sent via FEDEX or UPS to 3195 Main St. Barnstable, MA 02630
- For time sensitive documents that have to get on record and electronic filing is not an option, you may come to the registry and be allowed into the building ONLY for the purpose of presenting your documents for recording.
- For entities that are presently set up to electronically file, we encourage you to use that medium as opposed to in-person filing.
- For document and plan copies you MUST visit the website www.barnstabledeeds.org
- For registry questions CONTACT the registry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time or by phone @ (508)362-7733 during the hours of 8a to 4p.
Update as of 3/16/2020 at 9:33 am
The Dukes County Registry of Deeds will be closed Monday March 16 and Tuesday March 17 and updates will be posted as the situation unfolds.
Documents that are submitted electronically during this time will be filed.
In the case that a document must be recorded in person over the next two days, please reach out directly to the registry at email@example.com.
Update as of 3/16/2020 at 10:30 am
ll Town and County of Nantucket offices will be closed until March 30th. This included the Nantucket Islands Land Bank and the Nantucket County Registry of Deeds; there will be no electronic filing during this closure.
According to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Cape Cod’s visitors are primarily domestic, originating from the northeast corridor, and over 96% arrive by automobile. Vacation bookings and cancellations should not be affected by this virus yet and it is too early to tell any impact on summer travel.
The MAR Short-Term Rental Lease does not contain any provisions that would require refunds for tenants not wanting to fulfill their vacations; however, you and the owners should consider customer service best practices and the long-term impact on customer service.
Brokers should use their best judgment when formulating a plan. In addition to performing regular environmental cleaning with special attention paid to frequently touched surfaces, brokers should implement a mandatory "stay-home" policy for any staff member or agent exhibiting any sign of illness. Brokers may want to consider imposing a mandatory or maximum flexibility remote work policy for employees and instructing agents to stay out of the office. In addition, in the wake of the CDC’s recent guidance recommending that in-person events consisting of 50 or more people be cancelled or postponed, brokers should take measures to hold virtual meetings when possible, and potentially postpone or cancel in-person meetings or events to take to limit close contact between individuals.
Be sure to monitor updates from the CDC, as well as your state and local health authorities for additional information and guidance on holding meetings or events. For travel considerations, review NAR's "Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTOR® Associations".
In the event that a party to a transaction or lease agreement is placed into quarantine due to COVID-19, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, current forms should address most situations.
Standard Residential Purchase and Sales Agreement
Paragraph 10 applies to extensions and would provide protection to a seller subject to quarantine at home at the time for performance. While this language does not grant similar protections to a buyer subject to quarantine, a simple agreement for an extension of time should be drafted by the parties’ attorneys involved in the transaction.
Standard Residential Lease (Fixed Term & Tenancy at Will)
Much like the Purchase and Sales Agreement, the MAR Standard Residential Lease has provisions (paragraph 7) that would protect landlords in the event a unit is unable to be delivered at the beginning of a new tenancy due to the previous tenant being under home quarantine at the termination of their lease term. This language does also provide some level of protection to the new tenant as they would not be liable for rent payments until they were able to take possession of the unit.
MAR does not recommend creating any addendum or otherwise modifying the current forms to address potential situations. While we may see some disruptions in transactions as a result of COVID-19, the possible scenarios are not particularly unique to the current situation. Many situations could cause similar disruptions to a transaction, such as hospitalization due to a sudden illness, or a natural disaster, which our members have successfully navigated for years. MAR will continue to monitor the situation closely, and revisit this recommendation should the conditions warrant it.
Showings on Social Media
It is important to remember as REALTORS® to follow legal and ethical rules as you change your business practices to adapt to less in-person showings and ramping up your social media activities.
It is important to follow Massachusetts real estate license law and ensure your brokerage is mentioned (either verbally or in print) in each social media post whether it's a post or a story (i.e. Facebook/Instagram).
For a full recap of social media advertising guidance, see our Resource Directory, here:
May I ask those I interact with in my real estate business if they have traveled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness?
Yes, you may ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. To avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to ask all clients the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities.
Should I Still Conduct Open Houses?
We are recommending that you do not host open houses during the coronavirus outbreak to help ensure the safety of your clients, your open house guests and yourself. We are making this recommendation in light of the governor's ban on gatherings of more than 25 people, and the federal government's guidance on gatherings of more than 10 people, and the ban on serving food and drink. In the end, it is a call that needs to be made between you and your seller.
The Division of Professional Licensure is currently open only for limited operations due to the state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and will not be providing any window service. Renewals should be processed online. See the attached announcement for more information.