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On May 6, the Pennsylvania Department of State announced that it waived the requirement that real estate professionals attend certain required pre-licensing and continuing education courses in person. Such courses may now be live-streamed.
On May 4, the Pennsylvania Department of State announced that it extended the deadline for individuals whose applications to become certified real estate appraisers have been approved to take and pass the appraiser certification examination. Previously, approved applicants had one year to take and pass the examination. The department waived the one-year limitation for applicants whose one-year approval is in danger of expiring due to the closure of testing sites. Impacted applicants now have two years to sit for the examination.
On May 1, the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Real Estate Commission, adopted an emergency rule extending the time period during which applicants for a sales agent license have to pass the sales agent examination after they successfully complete the sales agent course. The time is extended from one year to 180 days after testing sites fully reopen.
On May 1, Minnesota’s commissioner of commerce issued an order modifying certain regulatory deadlines as set forth in Regulatory Guidance 20-25 and 20-26 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Guidance 20-25 extends the deadline for certain insurers to file annual reports due on or before May 1, 2020 until June 1, 2020. Guidance 20-26 allows banks that acquire “other real estate” as defined by Minn. Stat. § 48.21 to defer the requirement to obtain an appraisal for up to 120 days.
On April 29, the governor of Texas temporarily permitted persons to appear before a notary public via videoconference when executing real estate instruments such as mortgages. The Office of the Attorney General issued a set of conditions that must be met when using remote methods of notarization. These include the use of two-way video and audio communication permitting contemporaneous interaction, verification of identity, recordkeeping requirements, and attestations of the signatory and notary that they are physically located in Texas.
On April 28, the Pennsylvania Department of State issued revised guidance for real estate professionals, appraisers, notaries, title companies, and home inspectors in light of the Covid-19-related closures of non-essential businesses. The revised guidance limits in-person residential real estate activities to transactions related to existing homes under contract prior to March 18, 2020, new construction homes under a contract calling for closing or delivery on or after March 18, 2020, where a buyer can demonstrate that they had entered into an agreement for sale of their prior residence prior to March 18, 2020 or where a property subject to sale, home equity loan or home equity refinancing is located in certain regions of Pennsylvania.
On April 22, the Texas Credit Union Department announced the temporary waiver of certain appraisal requirements. The waivers allow credit unions to defer certain appraisals and evaluations for up to 120 days after closing and raise the threshold level when an appraisal is not required for residential real-estate transactions from $250,000 to $400,000.
On April 15, the California Department of Real Estate updated its FAQs for licensing processes. The FAQs answer questions relating, among other things, to the closure of DRE offices, the cancellation and rescheduling of licensing exams, renewal of real estate license, and electronic signatures on licensing documents.
California Department of Real Estate issues guidance regarding late submission of certain required reports
On April 13, the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) issued guidance providing that the DRE will review situations on a case-by-case basis with respect to deadlines for filing certain DRE required reports. Entities that are late in submitting their reports are requested to add a signed explanation as to the delay, if possible. The DRE will work with brokers who miss deadlines due to disruptions resulting from Covid-19.
On April 6, the Virginia governor signed HB 819 to add additional sections to the state code related to real estate settlements and settlement agents. Among other things, the amendments discuss the prohibition against the “payment or receipt of settlement services kickbacks, rebates, commissions, and other payments”—whether directly or indirectly—pursuant to an agreement or understanding to refer business incident to a settlement. The amendments also allow for the imposition of penalties and liabilities if a person is found to have willfully engaged in an act or practice in violation of this chapter. Specifically, the state attorney general may recover civil penalties of not more than $5,000 per violation, as well as costs, reasonable expenses, and attorney’s fees. The amendments take effect July 1.