Dear Real Estate Licensees:
We have put together a short legal video for Nevada Agents and Brokers addressing concerns regarding the Coronavirus.
Please note, this training is for informational purposes only and is not being offered for CE credit.
Lee Drizin: Hi, everyone. This is attorney Lee Drizin. We recognize the concerns that licensees have had in light of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve fielded many calls from agents, and it led us to realize that it’s important to get information out to everyone about the types of issues that we’re currently facing and likely to face in the future as a result of the coronavirus. The Drizin Firm will be posting weekly blogs addressing the types of issues that we think are important for agents to recognize. This is the first of those blogs. What this blog will address are just some common-sense recommendations for both buyers’ agents and sellers’ agents to follow. The calls that we’ve gotten have given us real insight, and, quite frankly, we’re confident that if the agents who contacted us had these concerns, there’s many agents out there that probably have the same questions.
One of the questions was whether or not as an agent you’re even permitted to ask a client if they’ve traveled recently or showing signs of respiratory illness, and the answer to that is definitely “yes”. You have the right to ask these questions of clients, but best practices is that you should be sure to ask all your clients the same screening questions and not limit them to any particular ethnicity.
In fact, I think that the question could even be broadened to ask beyond whether they’re showing any signs of respiratory illness. Have they interacted with anybody recently who has shown such signs? Not only do I think that you should broaden the question, but the simple most important thing that I teach agents and my real estates continuing education classes is the importance of documentation. Document, document, document. I think when you make these inquiries and a client responds that they haven’t traveled out of the country, that they haven’t been exposed to anybody who’s had respiratory illness, and that they haven’t shown any signs themselves, I think it’s important to send an email confirming because should something down the road arise, and I assure you we’re going to be addressing these issues, and one of our future vlogs will be about how to minimize the, or address the concerns about clients suing licensees claiming that they were the source of transmitting coronavirus to them. All the more reason that this kind of documentation should become part of your regular practice.
Another question that arose was about the ability to drive clients. Or in other words, the ability not to drive clients. Can you refuse to drive a client to a home? The answer is “yes”. You’re not required to take someone to a showing, but best practices is that this type of refusal should be across the board. However, if for some reason you are going to nevertheless drive clients to showings, then it’s important that you make sure that you frequently clean and disinfect all the surfaces that they’re likely to touch. The seat, the door handles, the seat belt latches, buttons for the windows, maybe even the radio. I also think you should be asking clients to use hand sanitizer. I know six months ago, if we had asked clients to take these kinds of precautions, they would have rolled their eyes at us, but it’s a completely different atmosphere, and these kinds of requests are very appropriate.
Buyers are going to be also concerned about, after the close of escrow, moving into a house that has surfaces may contain the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has advised that the coronavirus may persist on surfaces for days. In fact, there are some indications that it could be upwards between four and six days. One of the things to consider in the residential purchase agreement is negotiate for the seller to provide for a post move out cleaning and sanitizing of the property at his expense.
If the seller is unreasonable and they’re unwilling to do that, then one of the things that you should think about is making sure that you advise the client to consider delaying moving into the property until after four to six days after the seller has vacated the property, very, very important, and to document that recommendation also.
Amazingly, sellers are still, during this time, requesting open houses, and the NAR, in March of this year, a couple of weeks ago actually, just had a survey that it sent out. It found that across the nation, 40% of the members reported they have suspended open houses.
What was amazing to me was that the majority, 60%, had indicated that they were still having open houses. The question that was posed to us is that, in light of the pandemic, can you in the State of Nevada, conduct an open house? The answer is “yes”, but the NAR is strongly suggesting that you don’t do it. In fact, recently, LVR president, Tom Blanchard, posted on Facebook his recommendations against having open houses, and we wholeheartedly agree. Ultimately, that decision belongs to the client. If the client insist on doing this and that you conduct an open house, the question is, do you have to do it, and the answer is “no”.
You always have the right to make that decision. Now, you may not keep that client, but you are never required to put yourself at risk in servicing a client. My suggestion is, if you have a client that strongly suggests or expresses the strong desire to have the open house, I think you have to have a really honest and open conversation with them. I think you share with them what your concerns are of whether or not this would even be effective, and the risk that it poses to both you and the client.
However, if you are in agreement with the client to go forward and conduct the open house, there are certainly precautions that you should cover with the seller. These recommendations don’t just apply to open houses. I really think this should become part of your practice each and every time a seller has any prospective buyer and an agent come into their home to view it and make a determination of whether it’s an appropriate home for them to move forward and submit an offer. First and foremost, is that in accordance with the guidance from the Center for Disease Control, you should always ensure that there’s less than 10 people in the house at any given time.
If for some reason there were going to be more, then you need to take whatever reasonable steps to ensure that no more than 10 people are there. Then as people leave, then others can come in. More importantly, I think that you also need to make sure that all guests in the home are maintaining six feet apart – social distancing. I think that as soon as people come into the house, you either discuss it with them or you give them a set of written instructions that say that it is our intention to be rude, but we’re not having any contact and shaking hands. We’re also requesting everybody who enters the house be at least six feet apart at all times, but, in addition, request buyers to immediately wash their hands or to use alcohol-based sanitizers as soon as they get into the house. Also, consider removing their shoes and using booties.
Finally, you should be stressing to the seller the importance that each and every time someone comes into their house, afterwards that they should be sanitizing and disinfecting all the types of surfaces that the person was likely to touch. Doorknobs, faucets, certain surfaces that you just know as an experienced agent someone’s going to touch. For sellers, this can actually be a real selling point. I think that it’s something that can be conveyed to potential buyers that these are the steps that they’ve taken to ensure that this is going to be a safe environment for them to come into, and not to have a fear of coming into the house to conduct any kind of viewing or inspections.
Those are the common-sense approaches and recommendations that we have for both buyers and sellers agents up to this point. As I mentioned, we’re going to be doing a series of videos, including one on the coronavirus addendum, as well as one on termination and disclosure issues. I want to remind everybody that you can continue to download our e-books on divorce, estate planning, as well as probate. If you have questions, you can send those questions to us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll plan on having a session where we can address some of those questions as well.
For those of you who have other questions that you do not want to have shared, you can call me directly as well, and we’re more than happy to see if we can point you in the right direction. In the meantime, be safe, be smart, use your common sense, and we’ll talk with you soon.
For more than 30 years, Attorney Lee A. Drizin has practiced in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, guardianship and real estate matters representing clients throughout the state of Nevada.
Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.