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NC REALTORS® Coronavirus Information

Get the latest on North Carolina’s response to COVID-19 at nc.gov/covid19, including:

Text COVIDNC to 898211 to receive regular alerts on the rapidly evolving situation and North Carolina’s response.

Real estate professionals are eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine in Group 4, starting April 7, 2021. Learn more.

This page serves as a resource and information hub to give you a better understanding of everything going on during this pandemic. NC REALTORS® will continue to review updates and information to determine any additional requirements for members and local associations. As always, please make sure to follow all health and safety guidelines.

NC REALTORS® Coronavirus Best Practices

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting members in unprecedented ways and raises numerous unique and novel issues for the real estate industry. Through this guidance, NC REALTORS® aims to respond to commonly asked questions and to empower members to successfully navigate their real estate businesses during these challenging, and continually evolving, circumstances.

Download the Best Practices Guide

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

With the Governor’s Safer at Home Order, should NC REALTORS® continue to conduct open houses on their listed properties?

It is recommended to avoid open houses at this time. Before scheduling an open house, agents should first consult with their BIC and consider how federal, state and local authorities’ recommendations, actions, and mandates, along with local MLS rules, impact the advisability, and even permissibility of open houses. If scheduled, open houses should be conducted in strict adherence to the guidelines in this document and mass gathering restrictions.

How does COVID-19 impact a REALTOR®’s fair housing obligations?

REALTORS® must continue to adhere to fair housing laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help REALTORS® navigate their fair housing obligations, as well as some of the novel issues presented by COVID-19, NAR has developed a Guidance for Fair Housing Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

May I ask clients or others 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.

May I limit in-person showings to pre-qualified buyers?

Yes. Both listing and buyer’s agents may ask if a buyer is pre-qualified to purchase and limit showings to qualified buyers. Be sure to ask all buyers for a pre-qualification letter to avoid a potential Fair Housing violation. Keep in mind that it may be difficult for buyers just entering the market to obtain a pre-qualification letter given the current circumstances, as many mortgage companies have been impacted by the pandemic with high volumes of refinancing applications and other operational issues.

Have other questions?

If you have additional questions, please reach out to NC REALTORS® Legal Hotline by emailing legalhotline@ncrealtors.org during our regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You may also refer to our more detailed Coronavirus Q&A page.

Tips for Virtual & Remote Work

Need tips on how to keep your business thriving in the midst of social distancing? View a full list of current professional development options including virtual courses, online courses and webinars on the Education Roundup page.

NC REALTORS® Mobile Mondays
Mobile Mondays is a Facebook Group for NC REALTORS® offering short video trainings and a community platform to connect with your REALTOR® peers.

Join the Group

 

 

Other Resources

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Small Business Assistance and Federal Unemployment

Small Business Administration Programs

NAR 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. Many REALTORS® are small businesses or work with them as clients. In the first relief package passed into law in April 2020, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or CARES Act, there were significant provisions aimed at assisting small businesses during this difficult time. The CARES Act appropriates more than $360 billion total for new Small Business Administration (SBA) programs – the 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) advance grants program.

In February 2021, Biden Administration announced several changes to the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide more loan money for small businesses, like sole proprietors and independent contractors. The program’s most significant change is that beginning Wednesday, February 24, for 14 days, applications will only be accepted from businesses with fewer than 20 employees. After the end of that period, applications will once again be accepted for all eligible businesses.

For the latest information on the PPP programs and how to apply, please visit the National Association of REALTOR® Small Business Relief Resource Center.

In addition, the December 21 COVID-19 relief bill made some major changes to PPP, including:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Second Draw Borrower
    The year-end Omnibus/COVID-relief bill signed into law on December 27 allows certain hardest hit small businesses which have already received PPP loans to apply for a second-draw loan. Learn more.
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Forgiveness
    Previous PPP borrowers may be eligible to have their loans fully forgiven if certain requirements are met. Learn more.

While PPP benefits received are not liable for Federal taxation, please be aware that North Carolina may impose a negative tax treatment on these funds. Any resulting tax levies would be small compared to the PPP benefits, but you should consult your accountant during tax preparation if you have taken PPP loans. Your NCR government affairs team is working to determine whether there can be a change in NC tax code to remove any tax liability.

Unemployment Benefits for REALTORS®
On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a COVID-19 relief package, which also included an Omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2021. The relief package included extensions of the previously enacted unemployment assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed into law on March 27, 2020, which provides relief to families, small businesses, and individuals who are self-employed and independent contractors.

For the latest information on available unemployment assistance, please visit the National Association of REALTOR® Coronavirus: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQs.

NAR's Response & Resources
Commercial REALTOR® Resources

NAR Coronavirus Guidance: Commercial Real Estate
NAR has developed a resource page specifically tailored to commercial REALTORS®. They regularly update the links so check back often.

NAR Resources for Property Owners
This list of resources is of particular benefit to property owners and commercial practitioners who represent them.

CCIM COVID-19 Resources and Guidance
CCIM Institute prepared this resource page for commercial real estate professionals to provide additional professional guidance around this issue. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

IREM COVID-19 resources and information for property managers 

Property Management Resources

Launch of CFPB Rent Assistance Web site/New NAR Resource

In anticipation of the July 31, 2021 ending of the eviction moratorium, today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new toolkit/landing page for renters and housing providers who are in need of rental assistance here: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance/renter-protections/find-help-with-rent-and-utilities/.

Ahead of its release the White House requested that NAR participate in a call-to-action to spread awareness of the toolkit/rental assistance options, so it will be shared on our social media accounts today.  They also provided an Emergency Rental Assistance ERA call-to-action toolkit for social media.

In addition, the policy team has updated its resource page (including a new page with information on the end of the eviction moratorium), federal resources (including the CFPB toolkit, and info from Treasury and HUD), and resources from other industry groups (like NMHC resources on communicating with tenants who owe rent).  That is here: https://www.nar.realtor/political-advocacy/rental-assistance-resources

 

NC REALTORS® engages with Chief Justice regarding eviction proceedings in North Carolina

Following Chief Justice Berry’s initial order on March 15 dictating the procedures of the state court system during this time, NC REALTORS® Government Affairs team has engaged with her office to receive needed clarification regarding the order’s prohibition on non-essential activities, including summary ejectments. We were able to receive important information that the order did not prohibit ejectment proceedings for health and safety reasons. We continue our engagement with her office in light of her subsequent orders extending the court system limitations until June 1.

We have also engaged with industry partners, most notably the Apartment Association of NC, to request that the Chief Justice issue additional guidance further reinforcing the allowable evictions during this period, following information of “rent strikes” being distributed at properties around the state. Our joint letter can be found here.

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 Institute of Real Estate Management

National Apartment Association

National Association of Residential Property Managers

 NAR Frequently Asked Questions: Property Managers

The full FAQ on Coronavirus Advocacy can be found at https://www.nar.realtor/political-advocacy/coronavirus-advocacy-faqs-re-transactions-independent-contractors-nar-grants

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, which applies to all federal mortgage (FHA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae), but hopefully it won’t get to that. You may also be eligible for mortgage forbearance. That means that your payments are frozen while under the forbearance period. You must contact your servicer to request forbearance, though. There are no fees and after the forbearance period you can request a modification to have the missed payments extended onto your payment term. NAR has worked with a coalition of organizations(link is external) to lobby for security in all of the real estate waterfall. We are trying to ensure that when evictions are stopped for tenants, relief is provided for property owners.

 

What relief is provided for renters?

Renters in properties that have a federal mortgage are entitled to a 120-day moratorium on eviction. Note that this does NOT eliminate the responsibility to pay. Renters should contact their property owner to develop a payment plan. At the end of the 120 days, all past rent will be due, if no other payment plan agreed to with their landlord.

So my renters do not have to pay their rent?

The eviction moratorium does not relieve renters from the responsibility to pay rent. The lease remains in place. That said, tenants cannot be evicted for failure to pay, or charged fees or interest on late payments during this time, if they are subject to the moratorium. They will be responsible for all rent payments at the end of the prohibition. You should be clear in explaining this to residents, and you will want to consider working with them on repayment plans now. Be mindful of fair housing laws, and ensure you are offering the same options to all residents.

What provisions apply to single-family rentals?

Owners of single-family rentals are eligible for the same forbearance as homeowners, if they have some federally related loan (FHA, VA, RHS, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae). These same owners are also required to halt evictions for 120 days.

If an owner of a small number of rental properties suffers a reduction of income due to the coronavirus, does he or she meet the definition of having “adverse financial consequences” to allow them to take a “coronavirus-related distribution” that qualifies for the tax-favored treatment?

 Until we get an official interpretation from Treasury and IRS as to what constitutes “adverse financial consequences” we will not know for sure. By its literal meaning, adverse financial consequences could arguably be even $1 less in income due to tenants not paying rent due to the shutdown. However, it is possible that the regulations would not recognize the ownership of a small number of rental properties as meeting the definition of a business. We hope that the regulations will be liberal in their interpretation, but until they are released, we cannot say for sure.

Is there any other tax relief I am eligible for?
Owners of commercial and multifamily rental real estate whose primary business is owning/managing that property may be eligible for a new provision in the CARES Act that allows businesses to carry back tax losses against earlier years when tax was paid. Specifically, the bill allows businesses to carry back net operating losses from 2018, 2019 or 2020 against profitable years, up to five years, and get immediate refunds. The current taxable income limitation is also temporarily removed to allow a net operating loss to fully offset income.

Are commercial and multifamily owners eligible for any other programs?

Property owners may also be eligible for some of the programs offered by the Small Business Administration. A rental housing provider that qualifies as a small business and operates in a state with a Presidential declaration of disaster is eligible for SBA-sponsored Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and possibly also the Payroll Protection program. For additional information, please visit our Coronavirus SBA CARES Act FAQs page.  

 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.

 

Business Resources

Resources for Employers and Associations
NAR continues to gather other resources for brokerages and associations regarding how to address issues facing employees during this time. This guidance is in addition to the other information about federal programs.


General Business Resources
These sites include a whole host of resources developed by federal and state-focused organizations and government entities. As they are not focused on one specific topic, they are included as general business resources. Check out the following sections for more detailed information about specific programs


Federal Resources



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