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Michigan Realtors® Receives Clarification From Governor’s Office

(March 25, 2020 10:25 AM) Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office notified Michigan Realtors®, the state trade organization for Realtors®, that real estate brokers and salespersons are not “critical infrastructure workers” and may not leave their home for work.

Michigan Realtors® sought guidance from the Governor’s office as to whether real estate brokers and salespersons could continue working.  According to Michigan Realtors®,  last evening the Governor’s Office issued further guidance on real estate services under Executive Order 2020-21. The FAQ makes clear that real estate brokers and salespersons are not “critical infrastructure workers” and therefore may not leave their homes for work.  The only narrow exception to the order is the instance where work is absolutely necessary to assist those with a genuine and emergent need, such as an immediate lack of shelter. 

In a statement to members, Michigan Realtors® said, “ The FAQ also uses the ambiguous term of “real estate service employees” which we do not know how to interpret. We have already communicated our concerns over the wording of this FAQ.”

The statement continues, “As for now, Michigan Realtors® current interpretation of Executive Order 2020-21 still stands. Real estate services, like the showing of homes and other property, open houses, and other client contact should be considered to be non-critical and travel to do so is prohibited through April 13, 2020.  Willful violation of the Governor’s Order is a Misdemeanor. We have already received reports of law enforcement officers enforcing the Executive Order on the streets and establishing communications for the reporting of non-essential services that continue to operate.

“For those Realtors® with clients with a scheduled closing in the next three weeks, we have been advised that a number of Michigan title companies and appraisers will continue to do business under the federal government’s general category for financial/insurance services and that closings will proceed. Realtors® should check with the specific title company/appraiser regarding its policy.

“Real estate brokerages have the ability to participate in closings via conference calls or other video conferencing methods to comply with the Governor’s order.

If you have a purchase agreement in place and the parties wish to agree to an extension, this can be accomplished by utilizing the Michigan Realtors® Amendment to Purchase Agreement. As with any contract, please make sure that you are consulting with legal counsel.”

According to Melissa Tee, Executive Vice President of the Jackson Area Association of Realtors, “we are currently seeking clarification on whether …appraisal, title services, and other settlement services fall under critical “financial services.” We are communicating these concerns directly to the Governor’s office.”

Tee says JAAR has been advised that a number of Michigan title companies and appraisers will continue to do business under the federal government’s general category for financial/insurance services. Realtors® should check with the specific title company/appraiser regarding its policy.”

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