Safely reopening Marin County from COVID-19

Real Estate

Real Estate related businesses are defined as a commercial or residential real estate office or firm, or related businesses that conduct activities such as real estate sales, rentals, inspections, surveys, photography, staging, movers and escrow-related procedures.

Current Status

Under the May 15 Shelter-In-Place order, service providers that enable real estate transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, are allowed to operate provided that appointments and other residential real estate viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit (except that in person visits are not allowed when the occupant is present in the residence).

On June 12, updated guidance was issued to provide Real Estate businesses with best practices for operating and performing real estate transactions -- including property showings -- in a safe manner.

Reopening Guidance

Each real estate related business must create, adopt, and implement a written COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan that incorporates and addresses all applicable Best Practices included in this guidance.

(Paste this information into the “Business/Industry Best Practices” section of your Site Specific Protection Plan)

  • Using signage at sites and offices or by other means, all parties involved in real estate transactions must be made aware of the current Site-Specific Protection Plan, industry guidelines, and social distancing protocols. Display information for agents and home viewers at the entrance of the property that are to be a condition of entry. The rules must include instructions to use face coverings and hand sanitizer. It must include instructions to maintain physical distancing and avoid touching surfaces of the shown property. The rules or a link to the rules should be part of online public and MLS listings. Posted rules should be clearly visible and include pictograms. Real estate and rental agents must confirm understanding of the rules with visitors before showing the property and provide a digital copy of the Site-Specific Protection Plan to clients, appraisers, inspectors, stagers, purchasing agents and contractors and obtain their agreement to follow the plan prior to entering the property.
  • In-person real estate activities including, but not limited to, viewing, staging, and document signings should occur only when necessary and when virtual options are not feasible. In this context, “not feasible” means that no virtual option exists or the existing virtual option has already been used and does not fully meet the needs of the situation (i.e. a post-closing walk through or a pre-purchase showing for qualified and serious buyers)
  • Discontinue holding open houses and showings open to the general public on a walk-in basis; use an appointment or digital sign-in process to control the number of people in the house or property.
  • In-person real estate viewings will take place only when residents or renters are not in the building whenever possible. If current occupants are present and/or participate during property showings, in accordance with their legal rights, they should adhere to the same standards regarding physical distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and promote a safe environment for all persons present.
  • In-person open houses are not permitted, nor are paper flyers or other marketing materials left on site
  • If an in-person visit to a property is necessary, only the agent and no more than two adults may be inside a dwelling at the same time. If others are present at the site, they must wait outside or in their cars in order to adhere to social distancing protocols
  • Visitors shall bring or be provided with appropriate PPE including hand sanitizer, gloves, and face coverings. At the end of each visit, disposable PPE should be taken offsite and discarded.
  • During a showing, introduce fresh outside air, for example by opening doors/windows, weather permitting, and operating ventilation systems.
  • Real estate licensees or sellers/renters must open doorways or other areas of ingress and egress prior to in-person property showings to minimize clients touching surfaces.
  • All people entering a property, including agents, brokers, inspectors, and clients, must wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer immediately upon entry and before touring or inspecting the property.
  • All persons on property for in-person showings should avoid touching knobs, faucets, toilets and toilet handles, light switches, garage door opener buttons, handles and pulls, alarm system controls, fan pulls, remotes, thermostats, switchboxes, gates and gate latches, window locks and sashes, pool coverings, and other such items.
  • Avoid passing transaction materials such as pens, paperwork, and keys back and forth between employees and customers. Instruct employees to wipe down and disinfect equipment that passes between employees and customers, including clipboards and keys after each use.
  • Parties visiting a site from different households should travel to the site in separate vehicles.
  • After an in-person visit to a home or to an office, parties shall thoroughly clean and disinfect areas after each visit, paying special attention to items touched such as lockboxes, door handles, light switches, computer keyboards, pens, etc. Parties shall follow any relevant additional guidelines provided by the California Association of Realtors that govern who is responsible for cleaning. Otherwise it is up to the specific professional that entered the property to fulfill this requirement.
  • Documents involved in real estate transactions, other than those that require wet signatures for recording, must be signed using remote platforms such as DocuSign, etc. Complete real estate transactions with all related parties digitally if feasible. Maintain physical distance when in-person meetings are required with escrow agents, loan officers, mortgage brokers, etc. Meet in spaces that allow for at least six feet of physical distance, such as outside.
  • Notary acknowledgments should be completed in signers’ residences using mobile notaries who adhere to the Site-Specific Protection Plan.
  • Payments involved in real estate-related transactions should be made using wire transfers and online or over-the-phone payments unless they are not practical or feasible.
  • Unavoidable in-person activities at closing are permitted and include inspections, appraisals, contractor bids, final walk-throughs, and signoffs.

INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC GUIDANCE OF THE HEALTH OFFICER OF

THE COUNTY OF MARIN REGARDING REQUIRED BEST PRACTICES FOR REAL ESTATE

This industry-specific guidance is being issued pursuant to the May 15, 2020 Order of the Health Officer of the County of Marin Directing All Individuals in the County to Continue Sheltering in their Place of Residence (the “Shelter in Place Order”) and unless otherwise defined below, initially capitalized terms used in this guidance have the same meaning given them in that order.  This guidance goes into effect June 12, 2020.

This guidance remains in effect until suspended, superseded, or amended by the Health Officer, is supported by the justifications set forth in the Shelter in Place Order, and automatically incorporates any revisions to that order or other future orders issued by the Health Officer that supersede that order or reference this guidance. All businesses addressed herein and allowed to operate under the Shelter in Place Order are required to follow this industry-specific guidance and implement all Best Practices detailed below.

This guidance and its enumerated Best Practices may be revised by the Health Officer, through revision of this guidance or another future order, as conditions relating to COVID-19 require, at the discretion of the Health Officer. Each business identified herein must stay updated regarding any changes to the Shelter in Place Order, this guidance, and the Best Practices specifically applicable to it by checking the Marin Recovers website regularly.

UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTIONS 101040, 101085, AND 120175, THE HEALTH OFFICER DIRECTS AS FOLLOWS:

  1. This guidance applies to all owners, operators, managers, supervisors, employees, state licensees, independent contractors, and customers of any business that Shelter in Place Order permits to be open to the public in the County of Marin (the “County”) and that consist of any of the following:
  • Real Estate Related Businesses; e.g. a commercial or residential real estate office or firm, or related businesses such as those that conduct activities such as real estate sales, rentals, inspections, surveys, photography, staging, movers and escrow-related procedures (“Real Estate”).
  1. Each Real Estate must create, adopt, and implement a written COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan (a Site-Specific Protection Plan template is available online at MarinRecovers.com) that incorporates and addresses all applicable Best Practices included in this guidance.
  1. Depending on the nature of the business covered by this guidance, there may be certain people associated with the business that are subject to this guidance. Collectively those people are referred to by this guidance and the Best Practices as “Personnel”, and those people include all of the following who provide goods or services associated with the business in the County: employees; contractors and sub-contractors (such as those who sell goods or perform services onsite or who deliver goods for the business); independent contractors (such as “gig workers” who perform work via the business’ app or other online interface); vendors who are permitted to sell goods onsite (such as farmers or others who sell at stalls in farmers’ markets); volunteers; and other individuals who regularly provide services onsite at the request of the business. This guidance requires the business to ensure that Personnel who perform work associated with the business are addressed by the COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan and comply with those requirements.
  1. Implementation of this guidance augments—but does not limit—the obligations of each Real Estate under all other existing Health Officer Orders, including, but not limited to, all requirements of the Facial Coverings Order and the obligation to prepare, post, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol as required by the Shelter in Place Order.
  1. Best Practices for Real Estate:
  • Using signage at sites and offices or by other means, all parties involved in real estate transactions must be made aware of the current Site-Specific Protection Plan, industry guidelines, and social distancing protocols. Display information for agents and home viewers at the entrance of the property that are to be a condition of entry. The rules must include instructions to use face coverings and hand sanitizer. It must include instructions to maintain physical distancing and avoid touching surfaces of the shown property. The rules or a link to the rules should be part of online public and MLS listings. Posted rules should be clearly visible and include pictograms. Real estate and rental agents must confirm understanding of the rules with visitors before showing the property and provide a digital copy of the Site-Specific Protection Plan to clients, appraisers, inspectors, stagers, purchasing agents and contractors and obtain their agreement to follow the plan prior to entering the property.
  • In-person real estate activities including, but not limited to, viewing, staging, and document signings should occur only when necessary and when virtual options are not feasible. In this context, “not feasible” means that no virtual option exists or the existing virtual option has already been used and does not fully meet the needs of the situation (i.e. a post-closing walk through or a pre-purchase showing for qualified and serious buyers)
  • Discontinue holding open houses and showings open to the general public on a walk-in basis; use an appointment or digital sign-in process to control the number of people in the house or property.
  • In-person real estate viewings will take place only when residents or renters are not in the building whenever possible. If current occupants are present and/or participate during property showings, in accordance with their legal rights, they should adhere to the same standards regarding physical distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and promote a safe environment for all persons present.
  • In-person open houses are not permitted, nor are paper flyers or other marketing materials left on site
  • If an in-person visit to a property is necessary, only the agent and no more than two adults may be inside a dwelling at the same time. If others are present at the site, they must wait outside or in their cars in order to adhere to social distancing protocols
  • Visitors shall bring or be provided with appropriate PPE including hand sanitizer, gloves, and face coverings. At the end of each visit, disposable PPE should be taken offsite and discarded.
  • During a showing, introduce fresh outside air, for example by opening doors/windows, weather permitting, and operating ventilation systems.
  • Real estate licensees or sellers/renters must open doorways or other areas of ingress and egress prior to in-person property showings to minimize clients touching surfaces.
  • All people entering a property, including agents, brokers, inspectors, and clients, must wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer immediately upon entry and before touring or inspecting the property.
  • All persons on property for in-person showings should avoid touching knobs, faucets, toilets and toilet handles, light switches, garage door opener buttons, handles and pulls, alarm system controls, fan pulls, remotes, thermostats, switchboxes, gates and gate latches, window locks and sashes, pool coverings, and other such items.
  • Avoid passing transaction materials such as pens, paperwork, and keys back and forth between employees and customers. Instruct employees to wipe down and disinfect equipment that passes between employees and customers, including clipboards and keys after each use.
  • Parties visiting a site from different households should travel to the site in separate vehicles.
  • After an in-person visit to a home or to an office, parties shall thoroughly clean and disinfect areas after each visit, paying special attention to items touched such as lockboxes, door handles, light switches, computer keyboards, pens, etc. Parties shall follow any relevant additional guidelines provided by the California Association of Realtors that govern who is responsible for cleaning. Otherwise it is up to the specific professional that entered the property to fulfill this requirement.
  • Documents involved in real estate transactions, other than those that require wet signatures for recording, must be signed using remote platforms such as DocuSign, etc. Complete real estate transactions with all related parties digitally if feasible. Maintain physical distance when in-person meetings are required with escrow agents, loan officers, mortgage brokers, etc. Meet in spaces that allow for at least six feet of physical distance, such as outside.
  • Notary acknowledgments should be completed in signers’ residences using mobile notaries who adhere to the Site-Specific Protection Plan.
  • Payments involved in real estate-related transactions should be made using wire transfers and online or over-the-phone payments unless they are not practical or feasible.
  • Unavoidable in-person activities at closing are permitted and include inspections, appraisals, contractor bids, final walk-throughs, and signoffs.
  1. This guidance is issued in furtherance of the purposes of the Shelter in Place Order. Where a conflict exists between this guidance and any state, local, or federal public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including, without limitation, the Site-Specific Protection Plan, the most restrictive provision controls. Failure to carry out this guidance is a violation of the Shelter in Place Order, constitutes an imminent threat and menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.

Date: June 12, 2020

Matt Willis, MD, MPH

Health Officer of the County of Marin

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Questions?  Contact us.

Group Lead

  • Shelly Scott, Assessor Recorder Clerk

Group Members

  • Jodi Olson, County of Marin
  • Romeo Arrieta, Marin Association of REALTORS
  • Bruce Raful, North Bay Real Estate Appraisers
  • Larry Hoytt, Hoytt Inspection Services, Inc.
  • Uyen Nguyen, Fidelity Title Co.
  • David Tattersall, Tattersall Advisory Services
  • Josh Woelbing, CSW/Stuber-Stroeh
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