COVID-19 Resources for Florida REALTORS
UPDATED: April 29th, 2019
We are here for you!
We have assembled these resources to help you efficiently navigate the Coronavirus pandemic. As always, we are here to help you with your customers, with our technology or with any transaction related issues. You can call, email, text or Facetime us whenever you need anything, even if you just need someone to talk to.
Rich Barnhart: 954-980-7795
Susan Warner: 954-857-9856
What are we doing to be safe?
- Our office is closed to the public, but our agents have everything they need to work remotely. We already utilize a full suite of web based tools that allow us to work safely from home while taking care of our customer’s critical real estate needs. We offer online property tours, virtual showings and open houses, and we can setup web based meetings through various conferencing platforms like Zoom and JoinMe. And, of course we are always available via cell phone, text, email, FaceTime and Skype.
- We are strictly following guidelines from the CDC as well as the National Association of REALTORS® guidance to help our REALTORS® respond to the coronavirus’s potential impact on the real estate industry.
- We are limiting all “in-person” activities to those that are necessary to complete our active real estate transactions. When in-person interactions are absolutely necessary we are strictly observing all CDC guidelines regarding social distancing. In-person activities include, but are not limited to property tours (see below), inspections, surveys, appraisals, etc.
How are we conducting property tours?
- RECOMMENDED: Virtual “Live” Video Chat Tours: Join us via Zoom, FaceTime or Skype for a virtual walk-through of any approved listing. We will visit the property on your behalf, show you every nook and cranny of the property and answer all questions you may have.
- In-Person Property Tours: Under certain circumstances we can arrange for an in-person property tour:
- The property owner and seller’s broker must approve the showing.
- All buyers and sellers must agree in writing to in-person showings.
- Broward County Emergency Order 20-08 requires that all agents and customers wear facial masks during in-person activities, and it is our policy to comply with this order for all property showings and tours. In addition, our agents will provide hand sanitizer and masks for customers who do not have personal protective equipment.
- For in-person property tours we also request the following procedures:
- Please meet us at the front door of the house with your facial mask on.
- Property tours are limited to a maximum of 2 buyers at a time.
- Do not touch anything during the tour. We will open all doors.
- Please stay in eyesight of your showing agent at all times while maintaining CDC social distancing guidelines.
Important update: Banks are now requiring your 2019 Schedule C along with your Form 1099 in order to approve independent contractors for a PPP loan. If you have not filed your 2019 taxes you still need to fill out a Schedule C (as you intend to file) and submit it as part of your supporting documentation. Also, if you are not getting anywhere with your current bank, you are allowed to apply with multiple banks if you have not already been issued an SBA loan number.
NAR has finally clarified how independent contractors can apply for the PPP loan program. See the link below for more details. First, contact your bank to see if they do SBA loans. If they don’t then SBA has a list of participating banks on their website. Many banks are prioritizing their current customers, so if your bank does SBA that is your best bet. Please note: you must apply for your own loan (starting April 10th). Brokerages should not count their agents on their company payroll as stated by NAR:
On April 2, the SBA released its interim final rule on the SBA 7(a) PPP loans. The rule clarifies that because independent contractors can apply for their own loans under the program (beginning April 10), they should not be included in the payroll or employee count calculations of other businesses.
Independent Contractors Can Apply for a PPP Loan Starting Friday April 10th!
There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic will fundamentally change the way we sell real estate, not just in the coming months, but likely for our lifetime. Even after the pandemic is a distant memory it is likely that in-person activities in our business may become unnecessary for many people. It is imperative that we embrace the technologies we need to survive this crisis and then carry those technologies into the future of our real estate business. Make sure you participate in all of our technology training sessions which are now focused on the following essential activities.
- Meeting with our customers: In-person meetings are considered essential to REALTORS® so we can build rapport and get to know our customers. Some customers may find this unnecessary and will only meet with us virtually, at least until they get to know us. So, learn to use Zoom and/or Google Meet, and don’t be afraid to turn that video camera on. Zoom’s free service may meet your needs initially, but upgrading to a Pro account is certainly recommended if you plan to grow your business in this new era of real estate. Try Google’s Meet service too. Its provided free to you with your G Suite account. Blog: Tips to Help You Meet Like a Pro
- Showing Property and Open Houses: While we are not doing open houses and in-person property tours are limited, this will soon change and we should be back to “new normal” showing practices soon. Just don’t expect the volume of showings to be the same. As we learn to utilize new technologies for online property tours and as real estate videos become more main stream, expect you’ll be spending more time at your computer than out driving around. Schedule Virtual Open Houses in the MLS
- 3D Spaces – 3D virtual tours were traditionally utilized for our luxury property listings only, but now we are offering to create 3D spaces and virtual walk through tours for ALL of our listings. There are many 3D tour providers available today, but we prefer the original Matterport Spaces for our 3D walk-through tours.
- Electronic Signatures and Cloud Document Management: eSignature platforms have been mainstream in real estate for years, yet many agents still don’t know how to efficiently manage their online documents and how to get customer signatures from multiple platforms. Form Simplicity and Transaction Desk both provide their own eSignature platforms that should meet most of your real estate needs, and our board provides classes on how to use them both. And, the state of Florida has approved electronic notarization, so we can even close our deals entirely electronic. We’ve been storing and sharing our documents through the company transaction management system for years, so that part is easy.
Can you imagine closing a real estate deal without ever meeting your customer in person?
Not ideal, but entirely possible!
Read our Blog “We Have The Technology” for more details.
Broward County Emergency Order 20-04 regarding essential businesses, includes real estate sales:
Broward County Emergency Order 20-08 regarding facial coverings:
The State of Florida recognizes “Residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services” as essential services.
Communicating with our customers effectively is always important, but during difficult times like now it is even more important. Make sure you are reaching out to your customers and offering to help them in any way you can. Let them know that you are available by phone, text, email or video conferencing, but that they can reach out as they normally would with any questions or concerns.
Listen to your customers with compassion. Ask how you can help them in any way. If they have an urgent business need related to buying or selling real estate, that’s great, but let them bring it up. Closing deals shouldn’t be your ultimate priority when your customers may have more grave concerns on their minds.
Be sure to send out our company COVID-19 announcements as they become available through Mailchimp.
Check out the following educational programs and resources. This is a great time to learn something!
Yale’s most popular class ever is available free online – In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits.
- NAR Online Learning Center – The National Association of REALTORS® is currently offering free courses and other programs at a significant discount. Get certified, Get CE, Get Smart!
- G Suite Training – As an agent at By The Sea Realty, you have access to Google’s full suite of software applications. Why not learn how to use them like a pro. Get the most out of G Suite in your workplace with training guides, tips, customer examples, and other resources.