• Transaction Resource Center

    Frequently asked questions and resources to help you continue your business operations amid the current “Shelter in Place” Order

The latest information

March 31, 2020   Santa Clara County and 5 other Bay Area Counties (San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda) jointly announced that real estate agents now have a narrow exception to practice residential real estate as an essential business. Click here to learn more

March 30, 2020   The Federal Government has updated its list of essential services and expressly included residential real estate. C.A.R. has released best practices guidelines for assisting you in safely practicing real estate and adhering to the new federal legislation.

March 27, 2020   President Trump signed the CARES Act into law, a $2 trillion piece of legislation that is the largest ever in US history. NAR has released a summary of the provisions in the CARES Act that will be of most benefit to REALTORS® and their consumers as secured by NAR’s advocacy efforts over the past two weeks. Read more on NAR’s Website.

March 19, 2020   MLSListings Suspends all Broker Tours and Open House Listings: The MLSListings Board of Directors recently decided that Broker Tours and Open House listings will be disabled, effective immediately, on the MLSListings service. This policy will remain in effect until the current “Shelter in Place” Order is rescinded. This decision includes all Broker Tours and Open House listings that have already been scheduled. No new postings will be accepted until the “Shelter in Place” Order is lifted. If you have any questions, please contact MLSListings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on 3/20: The Santa Clara County Recorder’s office has issued the following statement:

“There will be no real estate recording accepted for walk-in customers. We encourage customers to submit documents through title companies who can submit them electronically.  We will also process documents sent through the mail.”

You can find the latest updates on the Santa Clara County Recorder’s website.

This guide contains information about recording services available in all Bay Area Counties. It will be updated regularly (last updated 3/20)

Other counties outside of Santa Clara County may have a different policy in place and we recommend that you contact the local County Recorder’s Office or your local Title Representative for an update on the current status of the County Recorder’s Office outside of Santa Clara County.

Updated on 3/18: Per the “Shelter in Place” Order, there are certain essential businesses listed that are allowed to continue operations, such as:

  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  •  Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities
  • Housing Construction: The City of San Jose has confirmed with the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department that the County Order exempts “Housing Construction” from the requirement to cease activities, because housing is considered “Essential Infrastructure”. Housing Construction is not limited to affordable housing or homeless housing. As part of “Essential Business”, Essential Infrastructure is ‘strongly encouraged to remain open’ and to comply with Social Distancing Requirements to the greatest extent feasible. Other construction activities are not exempted and must comply with the Order.

For the full list, refer to Section 10 of Santa Clara County’s “Shelter in Place” Order.

Other real estate affiliated companies may have differing interpretations of this order. We suggest that you  reach out to them directly.

We are seeking clarification from the County regarding other essential real estate related services that are not specifically mentioned above. We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.

Housing Construction: The City of San Jose has confirmed with the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department that the County Order exempts “Housing Construction” from the requirement to cease activities, because housing is considered “Essential Infrastructure”. Housing Construction is not limited to affordable housing or homeless housing. As part of “Essential Business”, Essential Infrastructure is ‘strongly encouraged to remain open’ and to comply with Social Distancing Requirements to the greatest extent feasible. Other construction activities are not exempted and must comply with the Order.

Updated 3/24: Both Santa Clara County and the State of California have implemented a Shelter from Home Mandate. The strictest language of the two ordinances must be followed meaning if either establish a business as non-essential the business must abide.

Santa Clara County Ordinance: Click Here
Santa Clara County FAQs: Click Here
California Executive Order: Click Here
California Essential Businesses Explained: Click Here 
California FAQs: Click Here

Updated on 3/18: There is currently a “Shelter in Place” Order in the following Bay Area and surrounding counties: Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, Napa and Sonoma. Open Houses in these areas should be canceled or postponed until the “Shelter in Place” Order is lifted.

We suggest you seek the advice of your broker for further clarifications and consider the wishes of your clients in how to market their properties at this time.

Updated on 3/31: Santa Clara County and 5 other Bay Area Counties (San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda) jointly announced that real estate agents now have a narrow exception to practice residential real estate as an essential business. The exact language of the order is as follows:

“Service providers that enable residential transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, provided that appointments and other residential 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 still residing in the residence)” 

Some important takeaways:

  • Showings should be done virtually, if at all possible.
  • All activities should be completed electronically, if at all possible.
  • If a virtual showing is not realistic, a private showing can occur with the following stipulations:
    • Only 1 REALTOR® can be present.
    • A maximum of 2 other people are allowed. These 2 people must reside in the same household.
    • The property must be VACANT, meaning no person currently still lives at the residence.
  • Open houses are still not allowed under any circumstances.

From MLSListings:

In light of the Shelter in Place (SIP) order, the MLSListings Board of Directors approved a policy to suspend the accrual of days on market (DOM) on all listings from March 17, 2020 until the SIP order is rescinded.
Specifically, this means that:
  • All Active listings will stop accruing DOM effective March 17, 2020.
  • Any DOM accrued prior to March 17, 2020 will remain with the property. For example,

    • A property listed on 3/1/20 would show 16 DOM and will not increment until the SIP order is lifted. If the order is lifted on 4/7/20, then on 4/8/20 it will show 17 DOM.
    • A property listed on or after 3/17/20 will show 0 DOM. If the order is lifted on 4/7/20, then on 4/8/20 it will show 1 DOM.
    • If a listing is Cancelled, it will show only DOM accrued through 3/17/20.
  • All Withdrawn listings (which do not accrue DOM) after 3/1/2020 will be marked as New in Matrix only, when returned to Active.
Rest assured that not only is the MLSListings system up and running, the company is now 100% remote and completely available to serve and support you. We are ready to respond to any of your questions or concerns as always, by phone, email, or chat. Please feel free to contact us anytime.

Updated on 3/17: We are all concerned about the current state of the economy with the current restrictions in effect, however, we know that everyone is experiencing it together. We would like to ask all Buyers and Sellers to please be patient and see the process through before reacting to fear and uncertainty. We believe that everything will be back up and running in a few weeks time.

Updated on 3/20: We recommend all existing transactions have a COVID-19 Addendum in place to handle any delays that are out of the control of the parties to the contract. C.A.R. has recently released a new form called the Coronavirus Addendum/Amendment (Form CVA). It is available in zipForm® now, and you can download it by clicking the button below. The form provides that when circumstances related to the coronavirus are affecting the closing date, the Buyer and Seller agree to extend escrow for a default of 30 days. There is also an optional clause where the buyer and seller can mutually agree to cancel the Agreement and an additional optional clause where the buyer or seller can cancel even after removing the loan contingency if inability to fund is caused by Covid-19 related loss of income. This form can be used either as an amendment to a contract that is already in place or as an addendum to a contract that has not yet been formed.

Please note that SCCAOR does not provide legal advice and is not giving any legal recommendations.

Requires login to C.A.R. account

Updated 3/19: No. All major Brokerages have ceased all open houses during the “Shelter in Place” Order . However, home stagers are able to pick up furniture inventory in existing homes that had already been staged.

Updated 3/23: Yes. Virtual Staging is okay as long as the structure and items fixed to the structure (e.g. flooring, ceiling fans, outlets, switches, etc.) are not virtually changed.

Updated 3/19: The City of San Jose enacted an eviction moratorium for residential tenants. Back rent that cannot be paid is still due when the moratorium is listed. Details on how long tenants will have for repayment is still being determined. The City of San Jose is drafting a similar ordinance for commercial tenants as well to be completed next week. Additionally, the federal government enacted a nationwide moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and mortgages until at least the end of April.

Updated 3/19: Please refer to your Broker, most have discontinued open houses during this “Shelter in Place” Order.

Updated 3/19: It would be reasonable for you to be able to collect your property. A section of the ordinance states that companies are allowed to continue “the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory” You must coordinate with the listing agent to make arrangements that are acceptable to the seller. You must also consider the potential risk you are exposing your employees to as well.

Updated 3/24: Property management and repair work, which generally involves maintaining sanitary and safety conditions is permissible.

Updated 3/24: The loss of value in a stock portfolio does not, in and of itself, provide grounds for a buyer or seller to cancel a contract unless the contract is contingent upon the value being maintained. The C.A.R. Residential Purchase Agreement does not contain such a preprinted contingency. If a buyer was relying on the stock portfolio to provide the needed down payment or closing costs, the opposite is true. The last sentence in paragraph 3J(2) specifically states that the buyer’s contractual obligation regarding deposit, balance of down payment and closing costs are not contingencies.

Some people have heard of something called a “force majeure” clause. These clauses can limit a contractual obligation, or otherwise, based on “Acts of God.” However, California Civil Code, section 1511, paragraph 2 provides that performance of an obligation is excused when it is prevented or delayed by an irresistible, superhuman cause unless the parties have expressly agreed to the contrary.   The C.A.R. contract does not have such a clause. “Force majeure” or “vis major” is not necessarily limited to the equivalent of an act of God, but the test is whether under the particular circumstances there is such an insuperable interference occurring without the party’s intervention as could not have been prevented by prudence, diligence and care (Pacific Vegetable Oil Corporation v. C. S. T., Ltd. (1946) 29 Cal.2d 228, 174 P.2d 441). While ordinarily, a drop in value in the stock market, be it dramatic or mild, would not excuse failure to perform, the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the coronavirus outbreak may be considered a circumstance warranting if not complete failure of performance then at least delay in performance.

Given the uncertainty, buyer and seller are encouraged to discuss alternatives to timely performance and reach a voluntary amendment during this period of state and national emergency.

Updated 3/24: If a property is not yet listed, a broker may take a listing with a postponed effective date with written instructions from the seller. C.A.R. form SELM can be used for this purpose. In that form, paragraph 8C can be checked and a future date can be inserted in the blank fields. If the COVID-19 scare is not over by that date, then the broker and seller can agree to extend that date to another specific future date. If the seller wants to begin marketing and listing the property before the initial or extended date has been reached, then a written instruction to the listing broker will suffice. If the local MLS has already adopted the NAR Clear Cooperation Policy, then the seller must be informed that the property will be submitted to the MLS within one business day of any public marketing of the property.

If property is not yet listed, another option is to enter into a listing agreement with a future effective date. However, if the seller sells the property prior to that date, then the broker is not entitled to any compensation since the contact has not become effective. And, in such a circumstance the listing agreement may not even become binding on the delayed effective date since the seller no longer owns the object of the listing.

If the property is already listed for sale, the broker and the seller can mutually agree to postpone marketing of the property and extend the effective date. While paragraph 3A(3) of the residential listing agreement (C.A.R. form RLA) provides that the broker is entitled to compensation if the seller unilaterally withdraws the property for sale or makes it unmarketable, proceeding on such a clause in the current environment is risky. The best approach would be to seek a mutual agreement.

On March 23, 2020, Freddie Mac issued Bulletin 2020-5, Selling Guidance Related to COVID-19, which contains temporary guidance on appraisal requirements. Under the guidance, lenders will be allowed to use desktop appraisal and exterior only appraisals for purchase transactions through May 17, 2020. Freddie Mac has also provided language that the appraiser must copy and paste into their report in order to accommodate the revised scope of work, statement of assumptions and limiting conditions, and certifications for some of the scenarios presented. Visit the Freddie Mac website for more information.

The Department of Real Estate (DRE) is cancelling real estate salesperson and broker license exams in all exam centers through April 30, 2020. This action is being taken to comply with state and local public health agencies ordering residents to shelter in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Examinees affected by these cancellations will be notified by email and will be allowed to reschedule their canceled exam dates using DRE’s eLicensing system. Exam rescheduling fees will be waived for canceled exams.

Examinees with questions or concerns regarding canceled exams can contact DRE’s Licensing program at (877) 373-4542 or by email at Ask.DRELicensing@dre.ca.gov.

Updated on 3/17: In response to the “Shelter in Place” Order, we will be temporarily closing our offices in both San Jose and Gilroy and our staff will be working remotely until April 7th. These office closures will go into effect on Tuesday, March 17th. There are several ways that you can get in touch with us if you have any membership related issues or questions:

You can submit additional questions and comments by filling out the form located further down this webpage.

Legislation and Relief for Tenants, Housing Providers, and Homeowners

Updated 3/26:

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency will begin offering mortgage forbearance to multifamily property owners on the condition that they suspend all evictions for renters who can’t pay their rent because of the coronavirus. Click Here for More Information
  • Several of the largest banks in America, along with hundreds of state chartered banks and credit unions have waived mortgage payments in the short term from those experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. They have also agreed to a foreclosure moratorium. We recommend reaching out to your specific bank for exact details on these programs. Click Here for More Information
  • $11 Million Local Rental Payments / Crucial Bill Relief Fund: The County of Santa Clara, the City of San Jose, and Bay Area companies have partnered to help low-income residents (those making 80% or less of the AMI) pay rent and other crucial bills during this crisis. Click Here to Read More
  • We encourage all tenants and housing providers to familiarize themselves with this program, as it is the best route to make everyone financially whole immediately. This provides tenants with the resources to limit back rents burdens when the moratorium ends. It also gives housing providers the much needed immediate income for mortgages, property taxes, and their own living expenses. 

Updated 3/26:

  • The IRS has delayed the federal tax payment deadline by 90 days. Click Here for More Information
  • The CA Franchise Tax Board announced that state tax filings and payments deadline has been delayed until July 15, 2020. Click Here for More Information
  • Only the state has the ability to delay property taxes due to the County in April. Below is information on how to apply for a possible waiver of late fees and penalties. A coalition has been created with the CA Apartment Association to urge state legislators to delay property taxes. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Clara County Department of Tax and Collections individuals and businesses can apply for a “Request for Cancellation of Penalty” pertaining to late and partial payments. This will be handled on a case to case basis, proof must be shown that substantial loss of income occurred as a direct result of COVID-19, and there is no guarantee that penalties will be waived. Click Here for More Information
  • PG&E have implemented a series of billing and service modifications to support customers who have been impacted by the pandemic. Click Here for More Information
  • Silicon Valley Power (Santa Clara Residents) has announced no planned power outages or utility disconnection for nonpayment through at least April 7th. Click Here for More Information

Updated 3/27:

Federal

  • President Trump signed the CARES Act into law, a $2 trillion piece of legislation that is the largest ever in US history. NAR has released a summary of the provisions in the CARES Act that will be of most benefit to REALTORS® and their consumers as secured by NAR’s advocacy efforts over the past two weeks: Click Here for More Information
  • The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended all evictions of tenants on HUD owned property (mostly apartment complexes with deed restricted affordable housing units).  Click Here for More Information
  • The Federal Housing Administration has enacted a foreclosure moratorium that applies to homeowners that have an FHA-insured Title II Single Family forward and Home Equity Conversion mortgage. Click Here for More Information
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency will begin offering mortgage forbearance to multifamily property owners on the condition that they suspend all evictions for renters who can’t pay their rent because of the coronavirus. Click Here for More Information

State

  • Friday, March 27th Governor Newsom signed a statewide executive order creating a statewide eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 financial hardships. However, if a local jurisdiction has a more comprehensive moratorium the local ordinance supersedes the state executive order. Due to this see the information below regarding the Santa Clara County Eviction Moratorium which supersedes the state executive order. Click Here for the Executive Order

Santa Clara County Eviction Moratorium

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve an eviction moratorium effectively immediately as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020, for all residential tenants and commercial tenants defined as a small business. Due to emergency powers granted to the County under an executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom this moratorium applies to all unincorporated areas AND all cities within the County’s jurisdiction. It is important to note all of the following information from the moratorium.

  • It is in effect until May 31, 2020.
  • ALL back rent unpaid during this moratorium is still owed by the tenant to the housing provider.
  • The tenant will have 120 days from the end of the moratorium to pay all back rent, in addition to new current rent due. After this point, late fees and penalties can begin to be assessed.
  • When the moratorium is lifted during the 120 days grace period late fees and evictions can still continue for unpaid new rent due.
  • The moratorium only protects tenants who can prove significant financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19. Other forms of evictions can still occur. The tenant must be proactive and provide documentation to the landlord showing proof in any of the following ways: 
    • Substantial loss of income from: (i) job loss; (ii) layoffs; (iii) a reduction in the number of compensable hours of work; (iv) a store, restaurant, office, or business closure; (v) a substantial decrease in business income caused by a reduction in opening hours or consumer demand; (vi) the need to miss work to care for a homebound school-age child or a family member infected with coronavirus; or (vii) other similarly-caused loss of income, where the conditions listed in (i) through (vii) resulted from frorn the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic or related guidance or public health orders from local, state, or federal authorities
    • Substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses for themselves or their immediate family members related to the 2020 COVID-l9 pandemic.
  • Failure to comply as a housing provider is not a criminal offense but punishable through civil fines and penalties. 
  • Any notice of termination served on a Tenant during the 2020 COVID-I9 pandemic must also include a notice of Tenant’s rights under this Ordinance as well as a notice of emergency rental assistance programs.
  • SCCAOR encourages all tenants and housing providers to read the entire ordinance for a comprehensive understanding of the moratorium. Click Here to Read the Ordinance
  • If any local Cities that have enacted an eviction moratorium have a stricter ordinance it still applies along with the County ordinance
  • Click Here for City of San Jose Eviction Moratorium Information
  • Click Here for City of Santa Clara Eviction Moratorium Information
  • The City of Gilroy may explore a local eviction moratorium at their next Council meeting in April as well as rental subsidies
  • The cities of Campbell, Milpitas, and Morgan Hill have all deferred to the County Eviction Moratorium

Resources Available for Small Businesses

Updated 3/20:

  • The US Small Business Administration will provide Disaster Assistance Loans for those impacted by COVID-19. Click Here for More Information
  • President Trump has signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) providing support to American workers, families, and businesses, including the expansion of paid sick leave and family medical leave. It will enter into effect on April 2, 2020. Click Here for More Information
  • Bank of America is allowing its borrowers to pause mortgage payments and is offering other support to small businesses. Click Here for More Information
  • The IRS has delayed the tax payment deadline by 90 days. Click Here for More Information
  • Opportunity Fund is an organization that provides loans to underserved small business owners. They have developed a program to help those struggling from COVID-19 impacts. Click Here for More Information

Updated 3/20:

  • Governor Newsom has requested the legislature work on emergency bills to draw resources from the General Fund to provide immediate assistance regarding the COVID-19 Crisis, which may include small business support.
  • The CA Franchise Tax Board announced that state tax filings and payments deadline has been delayed until July 15, 2020. Click Here for More Information
  • CA IBank Small Business Finance Center’s loan guarantee programs are designed for Disaster Relief specifically. It is currently available to small businesses needing assistance to overcome economic injury caused by COVID-19. Click Here for More Information
  • CA EDD Rapid Response Program can provide small businesses with guidance and assistance to help prevent massive layoffs and closures. Click Here for More Information

Updated 3/20:

  • County Business Liaison COVID-19 Resources

cboliaison@eoc.sccgov.org
CBO/Business Liaison
County of Santa Clara Emergency Operations Center
Website: http://sccphd.org/coronavirus
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sccpublichealth/
Instagram: @scc_publichealth
Twitter: @HealthySCC

Updated 3/20: 

Additional Resources (free for SCCAOR Members)

C.A.R. COVID Relief Hotline

Phone: (213) 351 8450

C.A.R.’s COVID Relief Hotline is a one-stop resource offering assistance with applying for financial relief efforts available to REALTORS®, such as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

Hours
Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:45  p.m.

C.A.R. Legal Hotline

All Agents
(213) 739-8282

Broker-Owners, Office Managers, Designated REALTORS®
(213) 739-8350

Get free legal advice over the phone on a vast array of real estate related topics. You can speak directly with one of C.A.R.’s attorneys about things like contract interpretation, arbitration, litigation, tax issues, commission disputes, disclosure requirements, and so on.

Hours
Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

C.A.R. Mortgage Rescue ™ Helpline

Phone: (213) 739-8383
Email: financehelpline@car.org

Providing both answers and assistance with moving your stalled real estate transactions forward. It provides you with invaluable one-on-one assistance with finding a Lender, loan qualifications, Down Payment Assistance, closing transactions, underwriting, short sales, funding, payoffs, REOs, Deeds in Lieu, and more.

Hours
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

SCCAOR Tech Helpline

Phone: (888) 784-5410
Email: support@techhelpline.com
Also available via online chat

Unlimited free tech support. They can help with new devices, slow devices, viruses, and any other tech-related issue. You can call as many times as you like and the Tech Helpline’s friendly staff will stay on the line with you until your issue is resolved.

Hours
Monday – Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Submit your questions or comments

Please let us know if you have any additional questions, concerns, or comments. A member of the SCCAOR Staff will do our best to provide you with an answer.

Transaction Resouce Center Questions