On April 15, 2020 the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) released new guidance for its previous determination that real estate activities are an “essential business” during the stay-at-home order issued by Governor Mills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This latest guidance adds new requirements and restrictions to buyers and sellers of all residential properties, and commercial multi-unit properties with more than four units. The guidance does not specifically address other types of real estate activities or other types of commercial real estate properties. The DECD guidance can be viewed here.
For real estate activities involving commercial multi-unit properties of more than four units, the following requirements are imposed:
- Showings must be conducted virtually by the listing agent.
- The listing agent must wear a cloth face covering, foot coverings, and gloves when entering a property.
- Inspections must be completed by the building inspector only. Building inspectors must wear a cloth face covering, foot coverings, and gloves when entering a property.
For all residential real estate activities, the following requirements are imposed:
- Agents and buyers must narrow down houses to “a few” to view.
- An agent must “live stream” the viewing to the potential buyer from the property—the potential buyer may not be present. The agent must wear a cloth face covering and foot coverings when entering a property.
- A potential buyer may select one house to conduct a walk through, with the approval of the seller. Both the potential buyer and the agent must wear cloth face coverings, foot coverings, and gloves during the walk-through.
- The purchase and sale agreement must be executed electronically.
- Inspections must be completed by the building inspector only. Building inspectors must wear a cloth face covering, foot coverings, and gloves when entering properties.
- Appraisers must use all efforts to avoid entering a property. If it is necessary to enter, the appraiser must wear a cloth face covering, foot coverings, and gloves.
- Closing must take place using as many social distancing practices as possible.
City of Portland Extends Stay-at-Home Order and Includes Further Restrictions on Real Estate Activities
In addition to the requirements contained in the DECD guidance, the Portland City Council voted on April 14, 2020 to extend its own stay-at-home order. In doing so, the city decreed that real estate agency activities shall not be allowed with regard to any occupied residential multifamily properties of more than four units, or with regard to an occupied residential multifamily property of four units or fewer in which the property owner is not a resident. The city’s order notes that all other real estate activities must comply with the DECD guidance outlined above. A copy of the April 14 City Council order is here.
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