As New York City enters Phase Two of reopening from coronavirus-induced closures, co-op and condo boards need to establish protocols to ensure that apartments can be safely sold and sublet. The Real Estate Board of New York has put together suggested protocols for the three major facets of the sales process:
Showings and Open Houses
• Showings and open houses are permitted only in unoccupied or vacant properties, meaning the seller/occupant is not present.
• All showings and open houses should be conducted by appointment only. Stagger appointments to leave time for appropriate cleaning.
• Face coverings are always required by all parties.
• Agents/brokers are responsible for disinfecting high-touch surfaces between showings.
• Agents/brokers are encouraged not to show amenity spaces in person.
• Agents/brokers are encouraged to show only one party inside a property at a time while maintaining six feet social distance at all times.
• Agents/brokers should open windows whenever possible to introduce fresh, outside air.
• Buyers should be discouraged from bringing children or extra guests to showings.
• Remote walk-throughs are encouraged whenever possible.
To the extent possible, there should be universal adoption of electronic lease preparation in order to limit unnecessary exposure at in-person lease signings. Supporting software includes DocuSign, SignX, Adobe EchoSign, and various other comparable platforms.
• If a lease signing must be done in-person, meetings should take place in large open areas to maintain at least six feet social distancing.
• All parties must wear appropriate face coverings during any in-person meetings. This expectation must be established ahead of time via email agreement. Should any party arrive without an appropriate face covering, any party may reschedule the appointment without prejudice or penalty upon any indication of fever or other illness.
• When possible, funds should be transferred electronically upon lease signing. Hand-to-hand exchanges of funds should utilize envelopes or other containers of the recipients’ choosing.
Many closings still require a certain amount of in-person contact. Should the attorneys and appropriate parties need to close a transaction in person, the following should apply:
• A hybrid model of the “Escrow Closing” should be utilized. Documents and collateral can be delivered to the attorneys involved in the transaction or a third-party escrow company prior to the closing.
• In-person closings should be limited to only essential parties. Real estate brokers or agents, mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, principals and family members should not attend closings.
• All parties must wear appropriate face coverings during any in-person meetings. This expectation must be established ahead of time via email agreement. Should any party arrive without an appropriate face covering, any party may reschedule the appointment without prejudice or penalty.
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